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