Let’s start out by pointing out one thing: the title of this album is a complete misnomer. There are, indeed, at least a couple of songs that were pitched as potential Alan Parsons Project numbers, but the bulk of Eric Woolfson Sings The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was is taken up by songs that were intended, from the start, to feature in Woolfson’s post-Project stage musicals. There’s nothing wrong with that – I’ve tried to follow Woolfson’s music as well as Parsons’ – but it just seems that this album’s title is more than just a little bit misleading. Perhaps it should be Eric Woolfson Boosts Sales By Mentioning His Past Association With The Alan Parsons Project.
In a way, the album serves as a Woolfson “best of” collection, drawing from his numerous musical productions. The pieces heard here are not sung by the cast, however: these are demos or fresh recordings of the songs, arranged and sung by Woolfson himself. There are no repeats of known Project material here; if you’re new to Woolfson’s musicals, this material will be new to you. The only pieces I recognized were a couple of songs from his Poe concept album (which was more or less a commercially-released demo to prove the viability of the concept of a musical based on the life of Edgar Allan Poe), but they appear here in very different forms.
Listeners who soaked up the series of remastered Project albums will find two familiar pieces of music here: Rumour Going Round, previously presented as a mostly-instrumental backing track with a very incomplete rough vocal, is fleshed out with full vocals here (though the very 1985 backing track makes it a bit of a novelty by default). And if fans need a further stamp of Parsons Project authenticity, longtime Project guitarist Ian Bairnson lays down some brand new riffs on “Any Other Day”, the album’s only other bona fide Project song that never was.
But there’s plenty more for Woolfson’s longtime fans to enjoy. “Golden Key”, the lead track, bears more than a passing resemblance to 1983’s minor Project hit “Don’t Answer Me”. One of the best songs on the album, “I Can See Round Corners”, is an ethereal song with some haunting multitracked harmonies. “Nothing Can Change My Mind”, heard originally on Poe, is perfectly suited to Woolfson’s vocal range and his unique delivery. One of the most intriguing demos is a rootsier, raw rock version of Poe‘s “Train To Freedom”, here titled “Train To Wuxi” (after the Chinese tin-mining city Woolfson was visiting when he wrote the song); not only does the song have an unusually stripped-down sound, but Woolfson himself plays a decent guitar riff throughout.
The title may be a bit of a misdirection, but the music here is still solid. I’d really like to hear Woolfson cook up another album like Poe, but along the lines of classic Project concept albums like I Robot and The Turn Of A Friendly Card. With this album, he’s demonstrated that he has musical colleagues he can call upon to instrumentally make up for the other half of the Project. It may never be the production piece that it would be with Parsons aboard, but I’d like to hear some more original music from Woolfson. This album shows he could do it.
- Golden Key (4:12)
- Nothing Can Change My Mind (4:00)
- Rumour Goin’ Round (4:39)
- Any Other Day (3:08)
- I Can See Round Corners (5:15)
- Steal Your Heart Away (3:20)
- Along The Road Together (3:21)
- Somewhere In The Audience (4:36)
- Train To Wuxi (4:19)
- Immortal (6:02)
Released by: Limelight Records
Release date: 2009
Total running time: