Inspired by the thrills and occasional lose-it-all spills of gambling, The Turn Of A Friendly Card was a turning point for the Alan Parsons Project, turning the band from a strictly underground but well-respected prog rock act known for intricately produced concept albums to a group that actually made a dent on the mainstream charts. For whatever reason, “Time” and “Games People Play” both made an impact far beyond the Project’s usual fan base, creating the anticipation that helped to fuel the meteoric rise of Eye In The Sky (as both album and song).
As usual, the album we’re all accustomed to is remastered nicely, and Turn also boasts, hands-down, the best bonus tracks of this second wave of Project reissues. A lot of the attention on the bonus tracks is lavished on the song “Nothing Left To Lose”, which was, along with the hit single “Time”, one of the first two Project tunes with a lead vocal by Eric Woolfson. “Nothing” is heard in an early instrumental mix, a demo mix with Woolfson’s vocal and a rough synth attempt at the song’s accordian solo, and – the real treat – the multi-tracked backing vocal magic of Chris Rainbow with everything else mixed down. That selection is particularly impressive because the background vocals were literally all just one guy, and it’s beautiful stuff.
The other gem of the bonus material is an alternate take of “Games People Play”, with a slightly different take on the vocals by Lenny Zakatek and a slightly different approach to the percussion (the liner notes booklet even mentions the infamous Christopher Walken “more cowbell!” sketch from Saturday Night Live here). The song isn’t madly different, but it’s neat to hear a slightly altered version of it. “Time” is included as an instrumental, along with an early demo of “The Gold Bug” instrumental. Also rescued from the demo heap is the first attempt at the intro from “May Be A Price To Pay”, which is actually longer in this form and starts to approach the kind of complexity more listeners would associate to the echoplexed keyboards of “Mammagamma”. The bonus material on this album is great listening in and of itself, and though the entire series of Project remasters has promised to bring us rough mixes, alternate takes and other material to let you hear the evolution of the songs, Friendly Card may be the remastered album that comes closest to fulfilling that promise.
Highly recommended for fans of the Alan Parsons Project, though there may even be some interest in the bonus material for more casual listeners as well.
- May Be A Price To Pay (5:01)
- Games People Play (4:23)
- Time (5:09)
- I Don’t Wanna Go Home (4:59)
- The Gold Bug (4:32)
- The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part I) (2:43)
- Snake Eyes (3:17)
- The Ace Of Swords (2:58)
- Nothing Left To Lose (4:07)
- The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part II) (3:31)
- May Be A Price To Pay (intro demo) (1:32)
- Nothing Left To Lose (instrumental backing track) (4:37)
- Nothing Left To Lose (Chris Rainbow vocal overdub compilation) (2:01)
- Nothing Left To Lose (early studio version with Eric’s guide vocal) (3:11)
- Time (early studio attempt – instrumental) (4:42)
- Games People Play (rough mix) (4:32)
- The Gold Bug (demo) (2:50)
Released by: Sony / Legacy
Release date: 2008 (original album released in 1980)
Total running time: 64:05