Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Alan Parsons Project (III): reaching their peak with Eye in the Sky

A few weeks ago, I wrote two posts about the British band The Alan Parsons Project (you can read them here and here). I know I’m getting a bit stuck in Jethro Tull/ The Alan Parsons Project/ folk music and I apologize, but hey I’m almost done with this band, it’s only this post and another one. Or two. And sorry about spamming you with the facebook page in every single post, but maybe there you discover more music!


After the amazing The Turn of a Friendly Card,  and after their first “gap year”, 1981, their next album was Eye in the Sky (1982). This is their best known album, but, as saying it’s also their best one in terms of quality would be easy and boring, I’ll say it’s not the case (as I may have mentioned, my favourites are peobably Tales of Mystery and Imagination and The Turn of a Friendly Card), however it’s certainly very good.




Sirius and Eye in the Sky kick off the album. Again, they are two “connected” songs (there’s not a real pause between them): an instrumental intro and a “proper” song. Eye in the Sky is the band’s best known song; Parsons and Woolfson manage again to produce a sweet melody (well, Woolfson’s voice helps a lot) which becomes almost creepy once you listen to the lyrics (the sweetness of the melody makes the whole thing creepier, as in, for example, The Cask ofAmontillado). Fantastic song. However, Sirius, its intro, is also very well known amongst certain people. Two examples: it’s the song that plays when the mighty Chicago Bulls make their appearance in their arena, and it was, for some time, WWF wrestler Richie Steamboat entrance music.

I have a funny memory about Eye in the Sky (the song). A few years ago (eight or so, I'd say), my mother was driving me to high school, and they were playing this song on the radio. By that time, I  knew only The Alan Parsons Project's debut album, which is fairly different in style and which doesn't feature Woolfson's voice. And still, when I heard the song, I thought "holy cow, this has to be The Alan Parsons Project, it's amazing!". Ok, not so funny I guess, but it's what I thought when a year or so later I found this album in a shop and bought it.



This album has one of the best four or five songs of the band (thinking of a list is too hard, to be honest): Silence and I. The seven minute song has an amazing contrast between the slow, languid vocals the outstanding and often cheerful instrumental parts (kudos again to Andrew Powell and his orchestral arrangements). All in all, a true masterpiece.




There are some other pretty good songs in the album, such as Children of the Moon (interesting lyrics) or the dreamy Gemini, but the last real jewel there is the last song, Old and Wise, with its beautiful melancholic melody and its closing sax solo.





The problem with this album is that while the songs I’ve mentioned are excellent, there are others that are just not good enough to make Eye in the Sky an outstanding album. You're Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned is not more than a decent catchy soft rock song, Mammagamma is a good instrumental but probably one of the band’s worst (or less good?) and I’m not a huge fan of Psychobabble or Step by Step.





All in all, a very good album, but after listening to the first couple of songs I have the impression that somehow it could have been even better, pity. Of course, not everyone will agree with this and some will say it's their best CD and all the songs are amazing, but well, this is just my humple opinion.

Bonus track: a funny thing. What happens when some cheesy Italians mix The Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd and 80's disco music? Actually this one's not so cheesy, but some others...


2 comments:

  1. Yes about not all tracks being tops, but as you wrote, those that are good are among their best.

    I'm still uncertain about "Silence and I". This is among their most brilliant, yet the middle section breaks the emotional flow of the song.

    It's like "Don't Let It Show".

    It's probably Woolfson. He had a thing for broadway show-tunes, and I think sometimes he couldn't help but sneak in such high-flown "interludes".



    Hmmm, so you're only in your 20's? I expected an old timer like most of us APP fans.

    Pretty cool. It means the band won't be forgotten when the last of us 70's/80's gen-ers dies off.

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    1. I don't know, it kinda breaks the flow as you say, but I find it so incredibly brilliant that it's not a problem at all. For me, that is.

      I'm 24, and I actually have two or three friends who are also fans. So well, the band is being forgotten little by little... but there'll still be fans here and there!

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