Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Alan Parsons Project

Perhaps, the most intelligent music I've ever come across with is that of Alan Parsons Project (now just Alan Parsons). Alan Parsons, together with Eric Woolfson pioneered the concept of the producer's album. That is, the album is named after and credited to the one who produced it and not to the band or its players, although the project was a forum for a revolving pool of talents interpreting Woolfson's and Parsons conceptually linked works.

Their albums are thematic and revolve in a single idea or concept that display a somewhat peculiar sound. The project debuted with an album that explores the mind of Edgar Allan Poe in TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION in 1975, after Parson's had just finished his collaboration with Pink Floyd with what would become the best Floyd album ever--Darkside of the Moon. Pink Floyd is another of my favorites.

I got hold of this album, in fact, I got to learn about the project when I was working in Riyadh. I was mistaken to think that Riyadh is a backward society with ultra-Islamic culture and oblivious to the western world. I was damn wrong! They have the most extensive collection of music albums in their numerous record bars found in some of the biggest shopping malls I've ever seen. There I saw and got to acquire albums that I thought were "out of print" like Dead Kennedys, Velvet Underground and Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars by Edie Brickell and the new Bohemians. I even got to buy LOKAL BROWN's Sa Ikalawang Yugto (Wishing You Were Brown, Ay! Pedro!, etc) It is there where I started building my music library, at first in cassettes and later on in CD's. Now, all my music is instored in a 160gig Western Digital external HD. That's another story.

After the success of Tales, they released other albums totaling to more than 20 to date including compilations and a live album. They never held any live performances until 1990 when the technology to put the complexity of their orchestration and instrumentation already existed. I got hold of that album, too!

Perhaps, The Project's most recognizable tune is Eye In The Sky from the album of the same title, released in 1982. The first song with lyrics is also the first single, Eye in the Sky, preluded by an instrumental called Sirius. Sirius, for its part is the most recognizable Parsons instrumental due to the fact that the Chicago Bulls used it as their official entrance song to the NBA.

But my most favorite Parsons song is OLD AND WISE, a rather sad song tackling man's eventual mortality, not in a morbid but in a celebratory and somewhat anxious but eager anticipation. (naks!) I am out of words in describing this beautiful song. Both the melody and lyrics are superb. Plus the vocals was breathy. When I die, I want this to be my burial song. Take a listen:

Old And Wise

As far as my eyes can see
There are shadows approaching me
And to those I left behind, I wanted you to know
You've always shared my deepest thoughts
You follow where I go

And Oh, when I'm old and wise
Bitter words mean little to me
Autumn winds will blow right through me
And someday in the mist of time

When they ask me if I knew you,
I'd smile and say you were a friend of mine
And the sadness would be lifter from my eyes
When I'm old and wise

As far as my eyes can see
There are shadows surrounding me
And to those I left behind, I want you all to know
You've always shared my darkest hours
I'll miss you when I go

And Oh, when I'm old and wise
Heavy words that tossed and blew me
Like autumn winds will blow right through me
And someday in the mist of time

When they ask you if you knew me
Remember that you were a friend of mine
As the final curtain falls before my eyes
Oh, when I'm old and wise

As far as my eyes can see....

Their themes include the life and works of Antonio Gaudi, the Spanish architect who created the eternal La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona; I Robot, their take on man and machine; On Air, tackling aviation, Stereotomy about man's relationship to society and himself; Vulture Culture, the modern world's need to feed on one another; Ammonia Avenue, the album touches upon how the lines of communication between people are diminishing, and how we as a society grow more spiritually isolated and antisocial.*Eve, The album's concept deals with the female's overpowering effect on man. And more.

God, this is intellectual music!

And by the way, The Alan Parsons Project was the first to release an album in the CD-ROM format back in the early 90's with On Air, a double CD album, one being audio CD and the other a CD-ROM. Unheard of during that time. And up to now, 2010, Alan Parsons the man continues to involve himself in numerous projects. He now released

Get to know the concept, the man and the project:


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