[MIXTAPE] My Top 10 ALAN PARSONS PROJECT Songs

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Thank God Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson – two of the most notable geniuses of progressive rock, decided to join creative forces in 1975 and create The Alan Parsons Project, a band whose presence entirely redefined progressive rock and the music scene of the time. Accompanied by talented session musicians and various vocalists, The Alan Parsons Project quickly established a name as the ultimate pioneers of concept album releases.

Alan Parsons, or as I like to call him Mr Everything, already had a long list of achievements, including engineering Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” and helping with The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” and “Let it Be”. For such an outstanding songwriter, audio-engineer, producer, signer and most importantly – a man with a unique perspective and approach to music, the sky was the limit. He saw a respectful partner in crime in the early 1970s in the face of the equally talented lyricists, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Eric Woolfson and… the rest was history.  

The Alan Parsons Project debuted with in 1976 with a concept album titled “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”. The band’s identity was yet to be solidified, though. In the years to come, the duo crafted groundbreaking albums like “I Robot” (1977), “The Turn of a Friendly Card” (1980), “Eye in the Sky” (1982), “Ammonia Avenue” (1984) which cemented the duo as one of the highest and most important British progressive rock towers in the mid-1970s and 1980s.

In their 40-year career, Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson managed to craft some serious magic. Ten studio albums, each with its own thought-provoking concept, spawned numerous timeless hit singles, still relevant and appreciated by (progressive) rock fans all over the world. Heavily-orchestrated, enigmatic, a bit melancholic even, decorated with powerful lyrics – their music has always been my biggest soothing agent. It is impossible to cherry-pick ten songs from their extensive catalogue and label them as “my absolute favorites”, however I did my best to at least craft a reasonable playlist for the fans who wish to experience the music of The Alan Parsons Project. I do hope you enjoy it!


Eye in the Sky (1982)

The mesmerizing “Eye in the Sky” is among Alan Parsons Project’s biggest commercial successes. Coming from their 1982 album with the same name, the track brought them top chart positions in countries all over the world. Eric Woolfson provided lead vocals for “Eye in the Sky”, which perfectly aligned with the soothing, quiet, yet funky and thrilling rhythms of the song. The lyrics are what captivate the listener the most, in my opinion. Just listen…


Games People Play (1980)

“Games People Play” – another immensely satisfying tune, this time coming from Alan Parsons Project’s 1980 album “The Turn of a Friendly Card”Lenny Zakatek brought so much life into the tune with his memorable vocals. The concept of the song is pretty straightforward, directly related to the overall theme of the record. The lyrics are once again the strongest point, at least to me.


Time (1980)

“Time” comes from “The Turn of a Friendly Card”(1980) and is in my opinion one of the saddest songs ever to be made. Eric Woolfson’s quiet and gentle vocal delivery is everything but comforting. – It just makes me so emotional. Interestingly, this is one of the few songs in which we can hear Alan Parsons himself singing on the background.


Sirius (1982)

“Sirius” and “Eye in the Sky” are meant to be listened one after the other; however I separated them because the 2-minute instrumental has its own charm and sometimes I just play it on a loop, without moving on to the next tune. “Sirius” segues into “Eye in the Sky” and both were usually played as a package on radio stations. The instrumental, however, made a name for itself by becoming an opening number for many sport events.


Ammonia Avenue (1984)

The title track of Alan Parsons Project’s 1984 “Ammonia Avenue” album became one of the reasons why I got into the band in the first place. It seems like songs, performed by Eric Woolfson somehow always get to my heart. A little bit dramatic, but highly enjoyable, this soothing tune has often been there to help me when I am feeling down. I highly recommend it to everyone, it’s just so calming…


Children of the Moon (1982)

“Eye in the Sky” is indeed a very special album to me, as you can see. Another tune from that fabulous progressive rock extravaganza found its place in my top 10. “Children of the Moon” with David Paton on vocals is a rhythmic treasure with a sweet reggae aftertaste and gorgeous lyrics. Have a listen~


Some Other Time (1977)

Alan Parsons Project’s 1977 “I Robot” was their coming out party. Filled with outstanding progressive rock jewels, the record signalled the arrival of a strong prog rock force. The epic “Some other Time”, performed by Peter Straker and Jaki Whitren, stood out to me with its triumphant horn sections and memorable lyrics.


In the Real World (1985)

This tune represents a stronger, more rock-oriented side of Alan Parsons Project which is equally intriguing and worthy of appreciation. “In The Real World” comes from their ninth album, titled “Stereotomy” (1985). The highlight of that record has to be the instrumental “Where’s The Walrus?” which even got them a Grammy Award. However, the uplifting rocker “In The Real World”, performed by Graham Dye, appealed the most to me.


Pipeline (1984)

“Pipeline” is one of the alluring instrumentals on “Ammonia Avenue” (1984) and generally, one of my favorite instrumentals of all time. Alan Parsons Project just know how to craft a time-enduring pieces of art that are equally intriguing with or without lyrics.


Separate Lives (1985)

Alan Parsons Project’s 1985 “Vulture Culture” was probably the last commercial and critical success of the duo. The ‘80s arrived and with them new musical trends, directions and possibilities. There was just little room left for progressive rock. Nevertheless, I find this record to be exceptional, especially “Separate Lives”, once again performed by Eric Woolfson.


+ I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You (1977)

A bonus tune – “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” from Alan Parsons Project’s highly successful “I Robot” (1977).  Vocalist Lenny Zakatek brought so much to the table, it was no wonder that later on he would sing so many of the band’s songs. You can’t but be compelled by this funky, disco-sounding tune!


P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Want to Get Drunk on Progressive Rock? Listen to These 5 Albums:

One of my greatest musical passions is progressive rock. There is just something so magical and immensely captivating in mixing rock with elements of classical music, all wrapped up under layers of complex instrumentation, life-changing lyrics, intense experimentation and supreme technicality. Not to mention the groundbreaking album artworks those beautiful compositions come with. The origins of progressive rock are quite debatable – many people, including myself, believe that it all started in the late 60s as a logical advancement of psychedelic rock. It’s important to mention the significance of albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles which is credited by many critics as the album where the idea of progressive rock began. It wasn’t until the ‘70s when prog rock found its way to the hearts of the general audience. Albums like “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) by Pink Floyd completely transformed the notion that this type of music is very difficult to enjoy. For the rest of the decade, prog rock was a predominant force on the worldwide music scene, especially among British audiences. Rock acts like YES, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Frank Zappa and many more are notable names in the genre.

My gigantic adoration for progressive rock grew out of a couple of albums which till today remain my ultimate soul-feeding musical pieces. The following albums are definitely part of the list. Not only that, but each of them has its own unique place in the history of progressive rock and music in general. If you are not so familiar with the genre and are looking for the start, look no further – these five records are surely going to provide you with the ultimate progressive rock experience. Noticeably, I haven’t included the earth-shattering prog rock titles like “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd because I wanted to demonstrate a little bit of variety and give the green light to other equally essential records. Also, Pink Floyd are a completely different monster.
Please enjoy my selection and I hope those albums can bring you at least a little bit of the comfort they bring me.


King Crimson – In The Court of the Crimson King (1969)

king-crimson-in-the-court-of-the-crimson-king-1969This might be a bit heavy for some listeners who are not accustomed to the sound of progressive rock but bottom line is – every conversation about progressive rock should begin and end with this album! Historically relevant, highly experimental, critically acclaimed and seen by many as the birthplace of progressive rock – meet King Crimson’s 1969 debut album “In The Court of Crimson King”. Personally, I see is as one of the most impactful forces in the history of rock in general. Where do we even begin with this album? Jazz, blues, classical influences, psychedelic rock elements, mind-blowing lyrics, questioning your entire existence. “In The Court of Crimson King” is THE progressive rock album! The monumental artwork is another reason behind the album’s significance – just look at it! That is how you will react when you listen to King Crimson for the first time!


Yes – Fragile (1971)

Yes - Fragile - Roger DeanIf you want to experience progressive rock at its fines, YES’ “Fragile” (1971) is another album you should devote your time to. “Roundabout” is YES’ ultimate classic and one of the reasons behind the commercialization of progressive rock. People were, and still are, simply in love with the elegant guitars of Steve Howe, accompanied by mindblowing organs, stunning keyboards, mind-altering drums and of course Jon Anderson’s a-list vocals. This whole record is a fantasy coming alive. It became a rock staple and influenced generations of musicians.


Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery (1973)

emerson-lake-palmer-brain-salad-surgery-1973And ladies and gentleman the album that changed my life – Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery” (1973). This record is like a door to a new colorful world, a world in which there are no limitations to what your body and soul can experience. I can’t even begin describing why this album is such a huge masterpiece. “Still. . . You Turn Me On”,“Toccata”,“Karn Evil 9” – all sending you on a mind-altering journey after which you feel like a different person. The trio is simply phenomenal – Keith is running through the keyboard with unimaginable precision; Carl is the king of the drums and Greg’s impactful but gentle vocal delivery is releasing you from every little trace of stress and negativity. That’s just how it affects me…


Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick (1972)

jethro-tull-thick-as-a-brick-1972Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” is just one 44-minute song which really does it for me. Concept, parodies and tricks aside, I do really enjoy diving into the atmosphere of this musical treasure from time to time. You click on “play” and for the next 40 minutes you have the perfect background to your work. I feel like this type of music synchronizes quite well with your work tempo and gives you that extra push! (Or maybe It’s just me). It’s a beautiful piece of progressive rock and musically speaking it is the whole package, not to mention the dozens of instruments we get to enjoy throughout this tune – trumpet, saxophone, timpani, violin and so much more.


Rush – Moving Pictures (1981)

rush-moving-pictures-1981Another album you have to listen to if you are into “progressive rock mood” would be Rush’s “Moving Pictures” (1981). Both critically and commercially acclaimed this is one of the albums that truly deserve a spot on your shelf and in your heart. I included it as a part of my selection because despite coming out relatively late, compared to other progressive rock jewels, it did manage to leave a lasting trail of classic prog rockers and radio staplers. It’s a perfect combination between hard rock, adopting a lot of experimental techniques and state of the art technologies to craft the perfect sound. It’s accessible progressive rock at its finest; a natural evolution of a genre!


 

P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

10 Things You (Should) Know About YES

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Before we go to YES, do you know what is art rock or progressive rock?

Progressive rock emerged as a musical trend and evolved in the late 1960s and early 1970s, falling under the umbrella of the so called “art rock”. Art rock can be quite difficult to explain due to its complexity and numerous forms it can take, however simply put, it’s rock music that goes above and beyond. What I mean by that is that the style itself surpasses the norms of the ordinary hard rock as we all know it, by experimenting with instruments and various other elements, taken from other genres and forms of art, such as literature and theater. When we think of “art rock”, the first name that should come to our minds is definitely David Bowie – he revolutionized and popularized the concept of “art rock” with its music, looks and stage performances.

Now, let me get back to progressive rock. I couldn’t just jump in without saying a few words about art rock because progressive rock is often thought to be a subcategory of art rock. Briefly put, progressive rock is a sophisticated mixture of classical music elements; complex instrumentation;  supreme musical technicality; conceptualism; abstract and imaginative lyrics; heavy experimentation with sound and new technologies, such as keyboards and synthesizers; lengthy songs; visually stunning stage theatrics; and all that wrapped under beautifully drawn fancy cover album artworks that can make your imagination go wild. The roots of progressive rock are questionable but many people say that it all begun in the States with psychedelic bands, such as The Doors, before it moved to the UK, where it was mastered and transformed into a fully developed style and genre. Yes, it was once again the British who formulated and perfected it. It was only natural, giving in mind their rich traditions, refined literature and classical European music influence. One of the very first British bands to fully adopt the qualities of progressive rock were King Crimson in the late 1960s.

Progressive rock, however, fully developed and reached its commercial peaks in the 1970s. When we talk about progressive rock and the 70s, there are a few bands that should immediately appear in front of your eyes. Those bands are also often referred to as “The Big Four in Progressive Rock in the 1970s”. I’m talking about YES, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Emerson Lake & Palmer, of course!

Today I will specifically draw your attention to YES, because I think there are a few things that should be said and reminded about this outstanding band of classically trained musicians, creating structured rock music that simply sends us to another realm. Just like many other progressive rock bands, they moved on to more commercial, radio-friendly sound in the 80s which divides their career into two distinguishable periods. Maybe some of you know more about YES than me and it won’t be interesting to read those facts I’ve gathered for you but for those of you who want to know more about YES, here we go!


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  • YES is a British progressive rock band, founded in 1968 in London by singer Jon Anderson who previously played with other bands such as The Warriors and Gun. He briefly went solo before the fateful meeting with bassist/vocalist Chris Squire from the band the Syn. Both of them quickly bonded over similar interests and pursues in music and assembled a line-up, featuring Tony Kaye on keyboards, Peter Banks on guitar and Bill Bruford on drums.

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  • The name of the band “YES” came from their guitarist Peter Banks and was chosen due to being short, striking, straightforward and even a little sweet.
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The band’s logotype was designed by artist Roger Dean and used since 1972.

 

  • YES’ debut, self-titled album was released in July 1969. The record included cover versions of rock, folk and jazz acts, including The Byrds and The Beatles. The majority of original compositions on the record were written by Jon Anderson. “YES” received positive reviews and signaled the arrival of a strong progressive force, despite both released singles failing on the charts. The album displayed brilliant harmonies and a classical approach to music, all wrapped up in a rather futuristic, even space aura; it clearly established the grounds of the band which would later on develop into the YES as we know them.

  •  YES had numerous line-up changes throughout the years, mainly due to disagreements in the musical directions of the band. For instance, Tony Kaye (keyboards) was fired because he refused to play on newly emerged and electronically-heavy keyboards. Founder Jon Anderson left the band in 1980, only to join a couple of years later for their highly successful album “90125”. Co-founder Chris Squire also left the band in the early 80s but came back for “90125” as well. Frequent line-up changes and ups and downs within the band members often affected their consistency and focus of production.

  • Yes - Fragile - Roger Dean“Fragile” is often considered to be YES’ finest record. Released in 1971, the album became synonymous with YES and quickly turned into a commercial and critical success. “Fragile” was popularized by its album cover, crafted by Roger Dean and the single “Roundabout”, which became their most famous and well-known songs.

  • Artist Roger Dean is the man behind the infamous album artworks of YES. Their long collaboration started with “Fragile” and is still going on. His futuristic and highly imaginative, colorful pieces of art became a trademark for the band and an inseparable part of their progressive style. His mesmerizing landscapes, environments and creatures perfectly fit the band’s concept and contribute to the overall experience and even visualization of their music.

  • YES - 90125YES’ “90125” is their best-selling album up to date. Often referred to as one of the most successful comebacks in history, “90125” presented a new, more contemporary and radio-friendly YES sound that appealed to the majority of audiences. Many fans criticize them for shifting from the complex, classical music-inspired rock to simpler, rather mainstream pop/rock music. However, many others were celebrating the new YES, rising from the ashes of Cinema – a band formed after the disbandment of YES in 1981 and consisting of bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, singer Trevor Rabin and former YES keyboardist Tony Kaye. On top of that Jon Anderson was also on board, resuming his duties as a vocalist. The album showcased a fresh, innovative mash-up of progressive, electronic and typical ‘80s hard rock sounds.

  • “Owner of a Lonely Heart” from “90125” is YES’ one and only song to ever top the charts. In addition to being their most instantly recognizable tune, the track turned into the ultimate cross-over hit and a staple of ‘80s AOR. The opening killer riffs of Trevor Rabin made the intro of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” one of the most memorable song intros of all time.

  • Keyboardist Geoff Downes, who previously formed The Buggles (“Video Killed The Radio Star”) joined YES for the “Drama” (1980) album. After that, along with Carl Palmer from ELP, John Wetton from King Crimson and fellow YES guitarist Steve Howe, he became a member of the supergroup ASIA. The band’s debut self-titled album turned into one of the best-selling and most popular records of the ‘80s. Geoff Downes would later on return to YES once again in their Fly from Here (2011) and Heaven & Earth (2014) albums.

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  • heaven-and-earth-yes-album-coverYES is one of the longest running progressive rock bands in the history of music. The band released 21 studio albums and 32 compilation albums during their career that begun in 1969 and is still continuing. YES’s latest record, titled “Heaven & Earth” was released in 2014 and is the final album to feature original member and co-founder of the band Chris Squire before he died in 2015.

References:
YES official Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_(band)
YES Biography: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/yes-mn0000685647/biography
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~