The Secret

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    Alan Parsons has a new album out in April! [LINK]

    Alan Parsons confirmed his first studio album in 15 years, with the working title The Secret, is tentatively due for release in early 2019.

    “The writing and recording sessions are going incredibly well,” Parsons told Prog in a new interview. “The album already has a working title, which is The Secret, and it will include musical and lyrical themes that are very close to my heart and my own interests and passions. I do not really want to reveal a lot about it, except that for the moment everything that surrounds The Secret is going to be just that … a secret!”

    The report added that the musical approach was “expected to be in keeping with the symphonic rock … explores on his earlier solo records and the Alan Parsons Project albums,” adding that guest artists would be announced later.

    Parsons’ last studio outing was 2004’s A Valid Path, which featured old colleague David Gilmour. “I look back on the album a little bit unfavorably.” he said in 2013. “I wanted to do something different and hopefully capture a younger audience. We did to a certain extent, but I think we lost our core audience in the process.”

    The veteran producer and engineer said he was “sorely disappointed by the sales” of the last LP. “It didn’t achieve anything like some of my previous albums,” he noted. “The reason could be that people felt it was too much of a break from the tradition of what I had done previously, which was heavily orchestrated, catchy, melodic songs.”

    Awwww, I really liked A Valid Path. There was a bit of a warm-up period before I really got into it, but I didn’t see it as that much of a departure. I knew he was working with new guest vocalists, etc., as well as his son, who is heavily into electronic dance music, and I just saw the new sound as an extension of that – sort of Alan Parsons: TNG. Guess others didn’t latch onto it that way. Then again, at the time I was also listening to a lot of Royksopp and other electronic stuff, so I really dug the melding of old and new styles.

    I’ll post a store link as soon as it’s up for pre-order.

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    Actually…already added to the store: [LINK]


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    I came in here and added something to another Parsons-related topic and realized that I had never followed up on the news of the new album. And…it’s really, really, good, very much a return to form – Ian Bairnson on guitar on some tracks, full orchestra for most of the album, a running theme (though not the one that the press material said it was), and all of the hallmarks of what some of us longtime Parsons fans love about the music he’s involved in.

    1 – “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”

    Yes…it’s that Sorcerer’s Apprentice. With Steve Hackett, original guitarist for Genesis, shredding throughout. My only issue here is that I was expecting a short excerpt that would segue into the first song with vocals…not a nearly six-minute instrumental opener.

    2 – “Miracle”

    Vocal: Jason Mraz. This is a bit more like it. This song sticks to the press release definition of the album’s theme, that it was supposedly about magic. But what kind of magic?

    3 – “As Lights Fall”

    Parsons sings! For one of the very few times since “The Raven” in 1976 (!!)! Both song and video seem very autobiographical, though I have to question: “This will be my last call?” I mean, I know Parsons is 70, but…Alan, buddy? Do you know something we don’t?

    4 – “One Note Symphony”

    This was the song that, on first listen through the full album, kind of grabbed me and shouted “he’s back!” Somewhere between the entire lead vocal being a single note (with backing vocals building into some elaborate harmonies), the Apollo 17 soundbytes, and the song being at least partly Schumann resonances [LINK]*, I’ll admit this song made me break into a big grin. This is what I’m after when I go to listen to Alan Parsons.
    * it’s possible that Parsons is leaning into the “woo” definition of the Schumann resonances, but that’s not even what the song is about – it’s about unity. (See also: “Voice Of The Wild” from Parsons’ 1999 album The Time Machine.)

    5 – “Sometimes”

    With Foreigner’s Lou Gramm doing the vocal honors. Kind of a bummer of a song, but Gramm sounds incredible here.

    6 – “Soiree Fantastique”

    Again with the lexicon of stage magic, but as metaphor only: could it be that the “magic” that the album is about is somewhere at the intersection of mortality and love? (Alan, buddy? Do you know something we don’t?) Great vocals on this one again.

    7 – “Fly To Me”

    More magic, but…yeah, I think we’re clued in by now. The album’s not actually about illusionist-type magic. More than a little Beatlesque, though some of that is down to Mark Mikel’s lead vocal.

    8 – “Requiem”

    Kind of a dirty-burlesque-blues feel on this one. I can’t think of anything similar in Parsons’ catalog to compare this to, it’s a really unique song.

    9 – “Years Of Glory”

    Man. More mortality. Great song with PJ Olsson vocals and Ian Bairnson on guitars – the solo that kicks in around 2:10ish is classic Project. (So…Alan, buddy? Do you know something we don’t?) This and “Fly To Me” are really kind of dreamy.

    10 – “The Limelight Fades Away”

    This one really seals the deal: the magic that the album is concerned with isn’t the magic of an illusionist, it’s the magic that is a brief life – and that when someone’s dead and gone, in many respects it’s like they’ve performed a disappearing act…which makes every life its own one-of-its-kind magic track. The miracle alluded to earlier in the album? The miracle is that you’re alive to hear this. (Hey Alan? Um… well… you know what I’m gonna ask here.)

    11 – “I Can’t Get There From Here”

    Some time back, there was a lot of chatter about Parsons being involved in the music for Patrick Read Johnson’s Star-Wars-centric semi-autobiographical movie 5-25-77, a movie that makes the rounds at film festivals but which still hasn’t made it to VOD, DVD or Blu-Ray, despite having been in the works for something on the order of two decades. This is the first time I’ve ever seen any footage from it, which makes me want to see it even more – spot not only the Star Wars references, but CE3K, Space: 1999, and 2001, among others. Putting this at the end of the album was a good idea, because there’s something of a disconnect from the rest of the album’s theme (and yet, largely by coincidence, the whole thing about reaching for your dreams while you have time and vitality on your side tracks perfectly).

    Now that I’ve heard The Secret, yeah, A Valid Path does seem like a great big flashing-neon-sign outlier in Parsons’ catalogue – The Time Machine and On Air were very much concept albums in line with the Project’s discography, and so is this one. But The Secret really is the most Project-ish album Parsons has done since Try Anything Once in 1993. The Project used have gorgeous walls of backing vocals, frequently performed by the late Chris Rainbow, and it seems like the album tries to return to that, as well as returning to the kind of thoughtful lyrics that typified the Project’s output (Parsons has co-writing credit on every song on the album). I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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    The tour is hitting Dallas in March at The Bomb Factory.

    “All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925

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    ATTN Ubik:

    Feb. 13
    401 2nd St NW Albuquerque, NM 87102
    19:30 – 21:30

    Coincidentally, either the ABQ or Denver shows are as close as this tour gets to me. Ah well. I could very well be living in a different state by the end of the tour.

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    Ticket bought. Thanks for the tip. Expensive, though. About $120 plus fees which makes it $144 total for just one ticket. I guess I’m spoiled on TMBG concert tickets which are usually in the $50 range.

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