Ladyhawke (newly expanded edition)

Ladyhawke (newly expanded edition)Either an awkward or awesome fit for its movie, depending upon whom one asks, 1984’s Ladyhawke veered away from the usual (indeed, almost stereotypical) Korngold-inspired heraldry expected of swords-and-sorcery films and, courtesy of composer Andrew Powell and his producer/collaborator Alan Parsons (of Alan Parsons Project fame), dared to score a period piece with synthesizers and rock music.

The result is practically a lost Project album in style and execution, and not a bad one at that. La-La Land Records expands the Ladyhawke score (last issued in the 1990s by GNP Crescendo) to two discs, including every note of the score, plus goodies such as demos, unused cues, and bite-sized edits of the movie’s music intended for radio advertising. If you already like the score, this release will delight you: there’s more where it came from, including fascinating alternate cues. If you didn’t like the score to begin with, steer clear: nothing here is likely to change your mind about it unless you’re prepared to go in with an open mind and open ears.

3 out of 4The packaging is a huge improvement on the almost-generic presentation of the 1990s release, with liner notes including interviews with Powell, Parsons, and director Richard Donner. This 2-CD set balances out the synth-heavy Crescendo single CD release by revealing that Powell prepared as much “traditional” material as he did anachronistic material; it’s still a fun listen.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Main Title (03:02)
  2. Phillipe’s Escape From Dungeon (01:51)
  3. Phillipe’s Escape Through Sewer (01:43)
  4. The Search For Philippe (03:27)
  5. Navarre At Sunset (00:22)
  6. Tavern Fight (Philippe)
  7. (02:10)

  8. Tavern Fight (Navarre)
  9. (02:43)

  10. Navarre’s Saddlebag (00:37)
  11. Navarre Dreams Of Isabeau (00:56)
  12. Pitou’s Woods (04:07)
  13. Marquet’s Return To Aquila Part 1 (01:01)
  14. Philippe Describes Isabeau (01:14)
  15. Marquet’s Return To Aqula Part 2 (01:17)
  16. Bishop’s Garden (00:45)
  17. Navarre Has Returned (00:27)
  18. Monk’s Chant In Bishop’s Garden (01:58)
  19. Isabeau Chases A Rabbit (00:25)
  20. Navarre’s Sunset / Philippe’s Capture (00:36)
  21. Navarre Is Ambushed / Hawk Injured (04:55)
  22. Philippe And Imperius Enter Abbey (01:18)
  23. Philippe Discovers Isabeau’s Secret (01:28)
  24. Imperius Removes Arrow From Isabeau (01:37)
  25. The Bishop Interviews Cezar (01:33)
  26. “You Must Save This Hawk” (01:07)
  27. Chase Up The Turret / Isabeau’s Fall Part 2 (02:49)
  28. Isabeau’s Transformation (00:39)
  29. Isabeau Flies Free (01:14)
  30. Navarre And Imperius (00:42)
  31. Navarre And Philippe Leave The Abbey (01:45)
  32. Wedding Party (01:45)
  33. Navarre’s Transformation (00:44)
  34. Wedding Dance (02:38)
  35. Cezar’s Woods (05:32)
  36. “She Was Sad At First” (02:09)
  37. Navarre Rides To Aquila (01:40)
  38. Philippe And Imperius (00:28)
  39. Wolf Trapped In Ice Pool (02:38)
  40. Navarre And Isabeau’s Dual Transformation (03:24)
    Disc Two

  1. Navarre Sees Phillipe’s Wounds (00:44)
  2. Return to Aquila (02:44)
  3. Phillipe’s Return Through Sewer (01:03)
  4. Bishop’s Procession Chant 1 (01:32)
  5. Bishop’s Procession Chant 2 (01:48)
  6. The Service Begins (Part 1) (00:50)
  7. Navarre’s Instruction to Kill Isabeau (00:50)
  8. The Service Begins (Part 2) (00:40)
  9. Navarre Enters the Cathedral (01:36)
  10. Navarre and Marquet Cathedral Fight (04:27)
  11. Marquet’s Death (02:02)
  12. Isabeau Appears (00:50)
  13. Bishop’s Death (02:30)
  14. The Final Reunion / End Titles (06:07)
  15. Chase Up the Turret / Isabeau’s Fall Part 1 (00:53)
  16. Chase / Fall / Transformation (02:10)
  17. Phillipe Discovers Isabeau’s Secret (01:44)
  18. Imperius Removes Arrow From Isabeau (01:33)
  19. Navarre and Phillipe Leave the Abbey (01:45)
  20. Navarre’s Transformation (00:46)
  21. Wolf Trapped in Ice Pool (02:36)
  22. Phillipe’s Jewel (00:51)
  23. Ent Titles (05:00)
  24. Spot 01 Radio Bed A – 30′ (00:35)
  25. Spot 02 Radio Bed A – 30′ (00:35)
  26. Spot 03 Radio Bed B – 30′ (01:05)
  27. Spot 04 Radio Bed C – 30′ (00:56)
  28. Spot 05 Radio Bed A – 60′ (01:03)
  29. Spot 06 Radio Bed B – 60′ (01:09)
  30. Spot 07 Radio Bed C – 75′ (01:16)
  31. Spot 08 Radio Bed A – 90′ (01:31)
  32. Spot 10 Radio Bed B – 90′ (01:38)
  33. Spot 09 Radio Bed A – Full (03:32)
  34. Ladyhawke Theme (Single) (03:37)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: February 10, 2015
Disc One total running time: 1:08:23
Disc One total running time: 1:01:38

Alan Parsons Project – The Turn Of A Friendly Card: 35th Anniversary Edition

The Turn Of A Friendly Card: 35th Anniversary EditionTime, as the hit single from this album croons, keeps flowing like a river, but the sight of a new 2-CD remaster of the Alan Parsons Project’s The Turn Of A Friendly Card makes me feel like time is bearing down on me like an oncoming flood. It can’t really have been 35 years, can it?

Indeed it can, and in that time The Turn Of A Friendly Card has already been remastered once, and deservedly so: while I Robot and Pyramid and the other early Project albums were nothing to sneeze at, there was some kind of harmonic convergence going on here, putting the right vocalists on the right songs at the right time to get massive radio airplay. “Time”, sung by the late, great Eric Woolfson, and “Games People Play”, sung by Lenny Zakatek, are immortal 1980s radio staples, and they’ve never sounded better. The remainder of the first disc is filled by the bonus material from the earlier remastered release.

The second disc, however, is completely new to this release, containing recently unearthed home demos – billed here as a “songwriting diary” – from the archives of the late Mr. Woolfson, who wrote all of the Project’s songs (despite what any shared credit on the album sleeves might state). There are basically cleaned-up transfers of garden-variety cassette tapes that Eric Woolfson kept rolling as he sat down to discover and shape his songs at the piano, long before any of them went into a studio. For those interested in the process of songwriting, this is fascinating stuff, as we hear Woolfson travel down various unexplored avenues, occasionally landing on gold…and occasionally putting it in reverse and backing up to his original idea.

But the highlight of the second disc, and the real reason to buy this whole album one more time, is down to a single track: the unaccompanied orchestral backing track from “Time”, which also includes backing harmony vocal overdubs performed by the late Chris Rainbow. This is, quite simply, one of the best orchestral backing arrangements that has ever graced a pop song, giving 4 out of 4what was already a gorgeous song incredible depth and power. I can listen to this one track over and over again (and I have done).

It’s rare that I recommend something on the basis of a single track of barely two minutes’ duration, but if you’re already a fan of the Alan Parsons Project and/or a student of how music is put together (by masters of the craft), that track, and indeed the whole second disc, is worth the upgrade.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. May Be A Price To Pay (5:01)
  2. Games People Play (4:23)
  3. Time (5:09)
  4. I Don’t Wanna Go Home (4:59)
  5. The Gold Bug (4:32)
  6. The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part I) (2:43)
  7. Snake Eyes (3:17)
  8. The Ace Of Swords (2:58)
  9. Nothing Left To Lose (4:07)
  10. The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part II) (3:31)
  11. May Be A Price To Pay (intro demo) (1:32)
  12. Nothing Left To Lose (instrumental backing track) (4:37)
  13. Nothing Left To Lose (Chris Rainbow vocal overdub compilation) (2:01)
  14. Nothing Left To Lose (early studio version with Eric’s guide vocal) (3:11)
  15. Time (early studio attempt – instrumental) (4:42)
  16. Games People Play (rough mix) (4:32)
  17. The Gold Bug (demo) (2:50)
    Disc Two

  1. May Be A Price to Pay (Eric’s Songwriting Diary) (3:26)
  2. Games People Play (Eric’s Songwriting Diary) (3:06)
  3. Time (Eric’s Songwriting Diary) (4:06)
  4. I Don’t Wanna Go Home (Eric’s Songwriting Diary) (2:12)
  5. The Turn of a Friendly Card (Eric’s Songwriting Diary) (3:19)
  6. Snake Eyes (Eric’s Songwriting Diary) (3:13)
  7. Nothing Left to Lose (Eric’s Songwriting Diary) (2:46)
  8. Turn Of A Friendly Card / Snake Eyes / I Don’t Wanna Go Home (Eric’s Songwriting Diary) (4:32)
  9. May Be A Price to Pay (Early Version – Eric Guide Vocal & Unused Guitar Solo) (5:03)
  10. Games People Play (Early version – Eric Guide Vocal) (4:32)
  11. Time (Orchestra & Chris Rainbow Backing Vocals) (4:19)
  12. The Gold Bug (Early Reference Version) (5:08)
  13. The Turn of a Friendly Card Part 1 (Early Backing Track) (2:18)
  14. Snake Eyes (Early Version – Eric Guide Vocal) (3:20)
  15. The Ace of Swords (Early Version with Synth “Orchestration”) (3:03)
  16. The Ace Of Swords (Early Version with Piano on Melody) (2:40)
  17. The Turn of a Friendly Card Part Two (Eric Guide Vocal and Extended Guitar Solo) (3:32)
  18. Games People Play (single edit) (3:35)
  19. The Turn of a Friendly Card (single edit) (3:44)
  20. Snake Eyes (single edit) (2:26)

Released by: Sony / Legacy
Release date: November 13, 2015
Disc one total running time: 64:05
Disc two total running time: 70:20

Alan Parsons Project – Gaudi (remastered)

Alan Parsons Project - Gaudi (remastered)The last Alan Parsons Project album to be released under that band name is also the last of the Alan Parsons Project remasters, and thus Gaudi ends two stories at the same time. I can’t really tell how much actual remastering was done here – Gaudi was originally recorded on fairly high-end digital equipment to begin with, and though that means digital-to-tape rather than a hard drive, it was always a very sharp recording. It’s probably best known for “Closer To Heaven” and “Money Talks”, both of which appeared on Miami Vice at the time of the original release, and “Paseo de Gracia”, which I remember being a staple of the Weather Channel forecast music at the time.

In remastered form, we get to hear the gestation of several of the songs, with early drafts of “Paseo de Gracia” and “La Sagrada Familia” on display, and an interesting look at the sonic components that made up “Money Talks”. The first draft of “Too Late” is heard here, with Eric Woolfson “la-la-ing” his way through the rhythm for the still-to-be-written vocals, though apparently it was already known that the song would be “Too Late” (however, even the placement and expression of that phrase within the embryonic lyrics is vastly different from what finally appeared). In this form, the song also has a wildly ’80s intro that vanished before the final recorded version.

I was never the biggest fan of Gaudi at the time of its release; it has, in “Standing On Higher Ground” and “Too Late”, two of the best straight-ahead, unaffected rock songs that the Project turned out in the 1980s, and in “Inside Looking Out”, one of Eric Woolfson’s best ballads. I seem to recall not being a huge fan of Stereotomy, Gaudi‘s immediate forerunner, too, though going back and listening to those albums with Woolfson’s post-Project musicals in mind, I can now appreciate Gaudi and Stereotomy for what they were: course corrections of varying degrees trying to keep the Project on a rock/prog rock/pop music path rather than giving in to Woolfson’s theatrical tendencies.

Don’t get me wrong: the final Project album with Woolfson (the concept album for Freudiana, which was credited to Woolfson himself rather than the Project despite featuring Parsons and all of the usual studio suspects) is great stuff, but in many places it really ceases to be rock music. Gaudi was the last gasp of Woolfson even trying to make it look like he wanted to be doing rock music. Following Freudiana, Parsons and Woolfson went their separate ways with wildly divergent solo careers both heavily influenced by the Project. Parsons’ first post-Project album, 1993’s Try Anything Once, was almost indistinguishable from a Project album except for Woolfson’s absence; Woolfson would go on to create a string of musicals using new arrangements of classic Project tunes revamped for the theater stage.

3 starsGaudi still elicits the same sitting-on-the-fence response from me now that it did back then – some great songs, but also some material that I can live without. In retrospect, perhaps it was best for the Project to split at this point, as the different musical directions of the group’s two principals was on the verge of giving us a schizophrenic sound. With Woolfson continuing to fill theaters with his musicals, and Parsons venturing solidly into electronica, it’s hard to imagine two more divergent musical directions – whether it ended at Gaudi or Freudiana, the only thing that seems certain is that it would’ve ended sooner rather than later.

Order this CD

  1. La Sagrada Familia (8:47)
  2. Too Late (4:30)
  3. Closer To Heaven (5:53)
  4. Standing On Higher Ground (5:48)
  5. Money Talks (4:26)
  6. Inside Looking Out (6:26)
  7. Paseo de Gracia (3:47)
  8. Too Late (Eric Woolfson’s rough guide vocal) (4:13)
  9. Standing On Higher Ground / Losing Proposition (vocal experiments) (3:58)
  10. Money Talks (Chris Rainbow / percussion overdubs) (0:37)
  11. Money Talks (rough mix backing track) (4:28)
  12. Closer to Heaven (Chris Rainbow / sax overdub section) (0:50)
  13. Paseo de Gracia (rough mix) (3:46)
  14. La Sagrada Familia (rough mix) (7:25)

Released by: Sony / Arista
Release date: 1987 (remastered version released in 2008)
Total running time: 68:46

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Alan Parsons Project – Ammonia Avenue (remastered)

Alan Parsons Project - Ammonia Avenue (remastered)At first glance, Ammonia Avenue had everything going for it – some great songs, a band in its prime, and, oh yeah, that whole riding-the-high-of-Eye-In-The-Sky-topping-the-charts thing. How could Alan Parsons, Eric Woolfson & co. possibly go wrong? The answer: studio interference. Ammonia Avenue was a detour into Arista mandating how the group should sound: since Eric Woolfson’s voice graced past Project hits such as “Eye In The Sky” and “Time”, his voice should grace as many songs as possible on the new album.

Originally recorded as a double album, Ammonia Avenue was pared down to a single album (with the excised tracks eventually seeing release as the Project’s 1984 album Vulture Culture), and on both Ammonia and Vulture, Eric Woolfson’s nearly-operatic, virginal voice is all over songs that just aren’t suited to it. Even Woolfson has admitted that Arista’s directive put his voice on songs that weren’t originally written for himself. It’s great for “Don’t Answer Me”, Ammonia‘s singular bona fide hit, but “Prime Time” and “One Good Reason” could’ve done with a rockier delivery. Lenny Zakatek, returning here for “You Don’t Believe” and “Let Me Go Home”, would have helped either of those songs tremendously, and Chris Rainbow could’ve done either of them proud too. John Miles is conspicuous by his absence here. Lathering up both albums with a thick coating of Woolfson vocals does a disservice to some otherwise fine songs.

The bonus tracks here offer interesting glimpses into the genesis of songs such as “Don’t Answer Me” and “You Don’t Believe” (which appears here in two forms, the second being a twangy, spaghetti-western-plus-synths instrumental that has to be heard to be believed). As usual, the “added value” tracks will really depend upon how much importance the listener places on hearing the musical equivalent of DVD deleted scenes. If there’s a real standout in the bonus tracks, it’s the rhapsodic minute-and-a-half selection of the orchestral overdub session for “Ammonia Avenue” – I think I like the song better in orchestra-only form than as released!

3 out of 4Ammonia Avenue was meant to be a great album, a worthy follow-up to Eye In The Sky, and by all rights it should’ve been. The group didn’t let the side down on the songwriting or instrmental performance fronts. But I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the group’s label hastened the demise of the Project by stepping in and demanding a particular vocalist. The beauty of the previous Project albums was that no two songs were alike, not even in vocal delivery; in “normalizing” the range of voices to favor Woolfson, the label took away a lot of the Project’s uniqueness.

Order this CD

  1. Prime Time (5:03)
  2. Let Me Go Home (3:21)
  3. One Good Reason (3:37)
  4. Since The Last Goodbye (4:35)
  5. Don’t Answer Me (4:11)
  6. Dancing On A Highwire (4:23)
  7. You Don’t Believe (4:26)
  8. Pipeline (3:57)
  9. Ammonia Avenue (6:45)
  10. Don’t Answer Me (early rough mix) (5:09)
  11. You Don’t Believe (demo) (2:22)
  12. Since The Last Goodbye (Chris Rainbow vocal overdubs) (0:30)
  13. Since The Last Goodbye (Eric’s guide vocal rough mix) (4:25)
  14. You Don’t Believe (instrumental tribute to The Shadows) (3:08)
  15. Dancing On A Highwire / Spotlight (work in progress) (3:57)
  16. Ammonia Avenue (Eric’s demo vocal rough mix) (2:42)
  17. Ammonia Avenue (orchestral overdub) (1:21)

Released by: Sony / Arista
Release date: 1983 (remastered version released in 2008)
Total running time: 63:52

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Alan Parsons Project – Eve (remastered)

Alan Parsons Project - Eve (remastered)One of my favorite Alan Parsons Project albums, Eve is a bit of a “dark horse” for most fans. Indeed, it really is an oddball in the Project canon: the only album (apart from Freudiana, which some fans refuse to count as a Project album) with female lead vocals, and the odd one out of the revolving future/past themes of the Project’s 1970s output. And yet, in breaking with all of the above traditions, Eve showed the Project’s seemingly limitless range, and I was disappointed that the group really didn’t get this adventurous again.

Remastered until they’re crisp and tasty, the original album tracks have never sounded better – really. “Damned If I Do” is one of my all-time favorite Project singles, and it’s fair to say that I’ve listened to it more than the average bear…and even so, I picked out stuff from the remaster that I’d never heard before, nearly 30 years later.

The bonus tracks start off with something that, for longtime Project fans, has to be close to the Holy Grail: a track from the legendary unreleased album The Sicilian Defence. I apparently had Sicilian misplaced in time; I thought it was recorded in the 1980s, not between Eve and Turn Of A Friendly Card. (Sicilian Defense was an all-instrumental album concocted and delivered by Parsons and Eric Woolfson with the intention of fulfilling and getting out from under their Arista Records contract, and while it did indeed displease the label – as intended – it did result in a contract renegotiation that, fortunately for Arista, kept the Project there for a few more albums which would be the group’s biggest.) “Elsie’s Theme” is the sole Sicilian track to see the light of day on any of the remastered CDs, and it’s a quiet solo piano piece – perhaps not what you were expecting, but almost certainly not what Arista was expecting either.

Following that are demos and intermediate, work-in-progress mixes of such tracks as “Secret Garden”, “Damned If I Do” and “Lucifer”, which – as with most of the Project bonus tracks – are interesting if you’re a diehard fan and/or fascinated with the recording/production process, but whether or not these tracks will hold any real appeal beyond that crowd is the real question. Unlike most of the other Project remasters, Eve at least gives us some “new” music in “Elsie’s Theme”, but a piano instrumental is probably not what Project fans envisioned when thinking of lost treasure bonus tracks.

Eve is a hard sell, even for the group’s biggest fans, and it may well be that those same fans may drool over the Sicilian Defence track and then shrug as the sum total of the bonus tracks. Given that Parsons himself holds The Sicilian Defence in much the same 4 starsregard as George Lucas holds the Star Wars Holiday Special, it’s amazing that we got to hear even one track (apparently under considerable pressure from the label, if the liner notes are to be believed), but ultimately the album remains very strong on its own merits. If you already liked Eve (surely I’m not alone there), the remaster is worth the price of admission; if you didn’t, the bonus material is unlikely to sway you.

Order this CD

  1. Lucifer (5:08)
  2. You Lie Down With Dogs (3:48)
  3. I’d Rather Be A Man (3:53)
  4. You Won’t Be There (3:43)
  5. Winding Me Up (3:55)
  6. Damned If I Do (4:52)
  7. Don’t Hold Back (3:37)
  8. Secret Garden (4:43)
  9. If I Could Change Your Mind (5:59)
  10. Elsie’s Theme From The Sicilian Defence (The Project That Never Was) (3:00)
  11. Lucifer (demo) (2:48)
  12. Secret Garden (rough mix) (4:42)
  13. Damned If I Do (rough mix) (4:46)
  14. Don’t Hold Back (vocal rehearsal rough mix) (3:43)
  15. Lucifer (early rough mix) (4:17)
  16. If I Could Change Your Mind (rough mix) (5:46)

Released by: Sony / Arista
Release date: 1979 (remastered version released in 2008)
Total running time: 68:40

Alan Parsons Project – Stereotomy (remastered)

Alan Parsons Project - Stereotomy (remastered)Released in 1985, and carefully crafted to fit in snugly with the post-new-wave synth-rock sound of the day, I’ll confess up front that the Alan Parsons Project’s Stereotomy, after all these years, remains my least favorite of the group’s string of albums from the 1970s and ’80s. Of all the Project albums, Stereotomy has almost no discernable theme, breaking a long string of nicely-thought-out concept albums, and at least two of its songs – the title track and the rambling instrumental “Where’s The Walrus?” (a title reportedly coined by an associate of the band complaining that the album didn’t sport anything as instantly catchy as “I Am The Walrus”, and you know, he was right!) – just waffle on too long for the sake of being too long, and long after the band had shed most of its prog rock credibility in exchange for short, catchy singles too.

So does Stereotomy reveal anything new in remastered form? Maybe. I’m still a bit underwhelmed by the original album program, and this time around, even the bonus features are a bit thin, with the liner notes booklet pointing out that Parsons had gone to all-digital recording by this time, which made it easier – and, due to the expensive nature of the equipment and recording media, necessarily more economical – to just roll back over outtakes rather than hanging on to them. As a result, most of what we get here are the same songs we already know, except either with no vocals or with an early guide vocal long since mixed out of the released version. There’s one legitimately new song here, “Rumour Goin’ Round”, which is an interesting rock number not too far from the sound of “In The Real World”. It has no lyrics, so it’s presented here as a bit of a rough-hewn instrumental, and one wonders what the finished product would have been like. The liner notes point out that Parsons and songwriter Eric Woolfson felt that the album was full and ready to deliver to the label without finishing out this song, and I’m not entirely sure I agree with that. In any case, as it appears here, it’s not exactly the undiscovered gem that “No Answers Only Questions” was.

I was hoping for some mention of the infamous unreleased ’80s instrumental album The Sicilian Defense, and the controversy which surrounded it as Parsons and Woolfson tried to get out from under their demanding Arista contract, but the liner notes of these releases have steadfastly stayed away from that topic, despite this being a perfect opportunity to separate fact from rumor (were the Sicilian songs mined as material for later albums, or is there really an entire Project album we’ve never heard?), and that whole vetted-by-the-label safe approach has left me disappointed. The liner notes booklets in the Project remasters play it very safe, and even recycle the same liner notes about the post-Project careers of Parsons and Woolfson, word for word. It’s not like Sony’s ELO remaster series opened the vaults and told all in its accompanying literature, but at least one didn’t get the sense that those essays were being phoned in; here, one gets precisely that impression.

2 out of 4Stereotomy, even in shiny remastered form, doesn’t get out from under the position of being my least favorite Alan Parsons Project album, and truth be told, it’s one of the weakest remasters from a standpoint of bonus material too, making it a completists-only item.

Order this CD

  1. Stereotomy (7:16)
  2. Beaujolais (4:28)
  3. Urbania (5:00)
  4. Limelight (4:38)
  5. The Real World (4:21)
  6. Where’s The Walrus? (7:33)
  7. Light Of The World (6:17)
  8. Chinese Whispers (1:01)
  9. Stereotomy II (1:23)
  10. Light Of The World (instrumental backing track only) (6:14)
  11. Rumour Goin’ Round (5:01)
  12. Stereotomy (rough mix with Eric’s guide vocal) (6:39)
  13. Stereotomy II (rough mix) (1:22)

Released by: Sony / Legacy
Release date: 2008 (original album released in 1985)
Total running time: 61:13

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Alan Parsons Project – The Turn Of A Friendly Card (remastered)

Alan Parsons Project - The Turn Of A Friendly Card (remastered)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 3 out of 4hear 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.

Order this CD

  1. May Be A Price To Pay (5:01)
  2. Games People Play (4:23)
  3. Time (5:09)
  4. I Don’t Wanna Go Home (4:59)
  5. The Gold Bug (4:32)
  6. The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part I) (2:43)
  7. Snake Eyes (3:17)
  8. The Ace Of Swords (2:58)
  9. Nothing Left To Lose (4:07)
  10. The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part II) (3:31)
  11. May Be A Price To Pay (intro demo) (1:32)
  12. Nothing Left To Lose (instrumental backing track) (4:37)
  13. Nothing Left To Lose (Chris Rainbow vocal overdub compilation) (2:01)
  14. Nothing Left To Lose (early studio version with Eric’s guide vocal) (3:11)
  15. Time (early studio attempt – instrumental) (4:42)
  16. Games People Play (rough mix) (4:32)
  17. The Gold Bug (demo) (2:50)

Released by: Sony / Legacy
Release date: 2008 (original album released in 1980)
Total running time: 64:05