Alan Parsons had already been well acclaimed for his work as an engineer on The Beatles Abbey Road and The Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. Now in 1975 was time for Alan Parsons and his partner in crime Eric Woolfson to commit their ideas to Vinyl (as it was then) Please bear in mind that the version of this great album i am reviewing is the remixed and remastered version from 1987 featuring new guitars from Ian Bairnson and synths from Alan himself....The difference is not much...Parsons wanted to update the album but be sympathetic to the era it was recorded in. The results are an absolute classic of an album. The album starts off with a narrative from Orson Welles which springboards the band into the album proper. “The Raven” starts off in melancholy mood but rears up to show the most beautiful of ugly heads in the orchestra section with Ian Bairnson adding a meaty lead guitar solo before winding down with a real choir (Mellotron style) The next track is an up tempo rocker about a man who has murdered and put the body beneath the floorboards...but is tormented by what he thinks he can hear as the murdered mans beating heart. Taunting him...defying him.... Who else could you give a vocal job to for a tale like this but mister "Fire" himself? Arthur Brown. Great riffing by Bairnson a Floyd like middle section, with Arthur Brown’s screaming vocals telling the tale.... worth the price of admission for this track alone. "The Cask Of Amontillado" shows how many progressive rock bands were influenced by the classical elements, again the dominant force is the orchestra conducted by Andrew Powell but at the same time is not over drenched. A simple piano and vocals tell the tale of the horrific fate of being walled up in a wine cellar...The pleadings of the victim in the second vocal are heartrending. Most bands would approach this subject like a death metal band...but The Alan Parsons Project are cute enough to approach it from an oblique angle. The next track "(The System Of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” I admit I have no knowledge of what the song is about...but as soon as you hear it you will be hooked. Simply put a great song with a great hook.... great playing by Ian Bairnson mixed with Hammond organ and electric piano...John Miles supplies a great vocal. In fact the song is not unlike "John Miles” brilliant song "Highfly" Alan Parsons sure knew what he was doing. So to the epic...The fall of the house of usher.... I recently watched this movie on video. The soundtrack was well inferior to this orchestra, Mandolin and guitar fest. Again the opening is spoken by Orson Welles, leading into the most frightening yet beautiful suite you are ever likely to hear...again Floydy in places but without being derivative...The first orchestra part leads into that Floydy section, then settles down into a mandolin and bass melancholic section...from here things build up into a crescendo with the ending orchestra part echoing The Beatles “A Day In The Life”. Finally the album winds down with "To One In Paradise" a beautiful song drenched in harmony vocals. This album was an experiment by Parsons and Woolfson and was supposed to be only a one off project ( pardon the pun ) But it was received so well that demand went through the roof. As a result Parsons and Woolfson went on to record a whole clutch of albums between the 70s and 80s.... Most of them to my flavor...but this was the twist of fate for Parsons and Woolfson.
Rating - 10/10
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