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Old 10-07-2021, 02:09 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Not a gay come-on? Damn, I had my hopes up there...

But seriously, I'm more surprised by the fact there are so few other replies to these reviews. Maybe everyone just thinks these reviews threads are considered Trollheart's personal threads, look but don't touch.
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Old 10-07-2021, 05:08 AM   #22 (permalink)
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No, generally speaking people tend not to comment in my threads, other than a few die-hards, unless they're going to slag me off for various things. I've been here long enough; it used to get to me but I'm way past that now. Also there is a decent amount of views so I know people are reading, just a lot of the guys here are not into this kind of "mainstream pop rock" or whatever they wish to call it. Post reviews of Bon Iver, they're all over it, post reviews of Bon Jovi, they'll ignore them or sneer at them. It's no big deal; I'm used to it.

Also, in fairness few threads in this section tend to get notice anyway, as they're kind of outside the main part of the forum. I've been writing journals for nearly ten years now, about twenty-five to thirty different ones in all, on all sort of subjects - history, music, movies, space, the Devil, mythology, science fiction, you name it - and have few comments in any of them. But my main one, the first one I began writing back in 2011, is almost at half a million views, so that's not bad.
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Old 10-07-2021, 06:13 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I think your biggest problem, Trolls, is that maybe you post so many different journals that it's hard for people to keep up with. Like, for example, we have some similar tastes (ELO, Bowie) in some areas and not so much in others. And I'm still waiting for you to update your TZ thread (I'm still holding my five episodes at a time rule so I don't spam your thread so to speak). Then there are the threads that don't interest me at all. I'm guessing that would be true for everybody.

Then again, I keep wanting to go back to my own journal (The bag of garage goodies if you remember), but I haven't gotten off my butt yet, proverbially speaking.
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Old 10-07-2021, 09:49 AM   #24 (permalink)
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No you're right of course, and I don't expect it. I was just explaining to bob how it is here. Certainly, someone interested in World War II may not be into vampires, and someone into animation might not have any interest in the history of Ireland, and I realise all of that. But I'm interested in all of them, so I just write what I like and if people read it that's fine, if not then it doesn't bother me (miserable ungrateful bastards! They'll all pay, you just see if they don't) but I'll still keep doing it. The trouble is I get ideas in my head and I literally say to myself "NO! You've enough to do! No more journals!"

Problem is, I never listen to myself. It's always been my trouble. I tried to talk to myself about it, but you know what I'm like, I never listen to me. I've told myself, if this all gets too much, don't come running to me. I'm done with me.

I'll get on those Twilight Zones real soon.
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Old 10-10-2021, 10:45 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I have to admit I never delved deep into the Alan Parsons catalog but have started to more recently as I always peripherally liked them. I knew they were set up like Steely Dan with a few core members that brought in different musicians as needed. I do find that Alan Parsons absolutely requires repeat listening. I Robot has continued to grow on me the more I listen to it so maybe I need to go back and give the first album some more love as I dismissed it kind of quickly. Or based on your review maybe I will try Pyramid next.
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Old 10-10-2021, 02:57 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Yeah I wouldn't try too hard to get into the first album. A lot of people love it but I found it a little inaccessible myself. Were I to suggest albums you could try I would go for Eve (the one that comes after I Robot), Ammonia Avenue, The Turn of a Friendly Card, Gaudi and his solo stuff is good too, at least the first two albums. Really there are no bad ones, but those would be in my top list, along with the likes of Eye in the Sky, Vulture Culture and of course Pyramid.
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Old 10-11-2021, 01:31 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Eye in the Sky (1982)


If there's one album that's known outside of the fans of the Alan Parsons Project it's this one. Not only due to the fact that it has their two biggest hit singles on it, or the iconic cover, but mostly due to the adoption of the opening instrumental tracks by the Chicago Bulls American Football team, and indeed “Sirius” has been used many other times in many other situations. It's just that sort of piece. The album was also the only of theirs to hit the top ten and remains the biggest selling of their career.

It opens, as I noted just now, on “Sirius”, the instrumental introduction, as it were, to the big hit and title track, as deep, humming synth is joined by Ian Bairnson's softly rippling guitar, quickly adding David Paton's thumping bass and then the percussion from Stuart Elliott before Bairnson's riffs rise through the piece with sort of orchestral string accompaniment. It's a very short piece, less than two minutes, and on the back of ticking bass slips into the title track, which probably just about everyone knows by now. As usual, we have a panoply of vocalists, and “Eye in the Sky” features one of the most familiar in the shape of Eric Woolfson, also one of my favourites. The song is mid-paced, driven mostly on Bairnson's guitar, and is about I have not the slightest clue, but something to do with seeing through the plans of perhaps an unfaithful lover?

It's easy to see why it was such a hit. It's got a great hook, memorable melody and it's just about the right length, shaving the four-and-a-half minute mark (though that rise to six and half if it's paired, as it often was on radio, with “Sirius”). Basically it's a simple and very commercial, radio-friendly song with song fine riffs and a really nice guitar solo outro which takes us into “Children of the Moon”, the only song on the album on which both bass and vocals are handled by David Paton. It's a slightly more aggressive tune, reminding me very much of “Snake Eyes” from The Turn of a Friendly Card, with that already-recognisable motif used by the APP and some really nice almost laid back guitar as Bairnson tones it down a little. To be fair to Paton, he's a decent vocalist but doesn't have anything on Woolfson, Blunstone or Miles. Good backing vocals and again it has a nice hook, but the song is nowhere near as memorable as the title track. It's also another one that's hard to figure out what the hell it's about, though I suspect it might be a kind of legacy of Man on the Moon while people starve on Earth? Probably not, who knows?

There's some trumpet here, but as I see no credit for same I assume it might be on the synth, maybe the Fairlight computer? Mel Collins does contribute sax, but I'm fairly certain that's not sax there. Bairnson rips off a fine solo that ups the intensity of the song, then it drops into a sort of marching, processional percussion-led piece with again trumpety keyboards to lead it out in a fade alongside choral vocals and into the superb “Gemini”, where Chris Rainbow takes over the mike. This is a very gentle song, very much a ballad, drifting along like a leaf caught in a summer breeze, Rainbow attended by some truly lovely vocal harmonies. It's just a pity the song is so short, at just over two minutes the second-shortest, and the shortest non-instrumental on the album. There's an almost Wilson-like harmony going on here which really gives you a sense of layers in the song. Really nice.

Other than the two singles, the standout for me is also the longest track, not quite an epic but surely close to the longest single track the Alan Parsons Project have written up to now, leaving aside the suite from The Turn of a Friendly Card. Soft, expressive piano from Parsons puts me in mind of their classic “Shadow of a Lonely Man” from the previous Pyramid, and indeed there are harkbacks to that album, as I'll get into. Woolfson is back on the vocals, and has never sounded so good. This song just perfectly suits his sighing, breathing voice, and the orchestral arrangement in the midsection is to die for, but as I mentioned there are parallels to their 1978 album here, and when the tempo picks up after the first two verses the melody jumps right into that of “Pyramania”. It's impossible to disguise, and to me comes across as somewhat lazy, one of the reasons I can't love this song as much as I want to.

Trumpets again, what sounds like castanets, a thick orchestral synth and percussion bumping along as the tempo rises again, and Bairnson comes in with a fine solo to slow it all down again before the song returns with the final verse and orchestral fade. All in all, it's over seven minutes, but as I say, for me, it's marred by the somewhat uncomfortable sandwiching in of the melody from a previous album. Without that, this song would be pure Alan Parsons perfection, but with it, well, it just knocks it down a notch for me. And unfortunately, whether you have a problem personally with that or not, if you've enjoyed “Silence and I”, then make the most of it, because we've now reached that tipping point of which I often ramble on about, and from here, almost to the end, the album takes a serious turn for the ordinary, even dipping into the mediocre at times.

Those who know me will not be surprised to find that it's our old friend Lenny that kicks the decline of the album off, with the pretty godawful “You're Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned”, as the APP revert from a sophisticated prog/pop band to an out-and-out rock band, in the same annoying way Jeff Lynne insists on doing with ELO. If you've read my previous reviews, you'll know I have little time for Zakatek; I don't like his harsher singing style, I don't think he's a bad singer but he always grates on me. That said, this isn't the worst song (though I wish he'd sing the title instead of dropping the “s” - it's “fingers burned”, Lenny, not “finger!” Damn you. Anyway it's okay as I say, but it's fairly standard rock and roll, and does in fairness give the band a chance to kick out the stays and enjoy themselves, but coming on the heels of the sublime “Silence and I” it's just a real comedown for me. Good rocky solo from Bairnson, but even that can't make me more than shrug at this song.

It doesn't get all that much better as sixties star Elmer Gantry takes the mike for “Psychobabble”. The song again is poor, and the lyric is stupid – what the hell is “psychobabble rap”? If you're gonna say crap, say crap, and own it. Rap? Come on. It's poor, or as one of the priests in Father Ted once pointed out, it's shoddy work, Ted! Shoddy! I've never heard Gantry sing before, but he seems to come from the same school of rough singing as Zakatek, and if we're being totally classist and snobby here, you could see he and Lenny having gone to a national school while Colin Blunstone, Eric Woolfson, Chris Rainbow and even David Paton attended a posh public one. There's a hook in the song – in fairness, there was too in the previous one – and the semi-oriental tapped keyboard is interesting but ultimately I find it a little empty.

I never have a problem with APP instrumentals, and “Mammagamma” is no exception, though don't ask me what the title means. It does, however, again flirt closely – perhaps too closely – with one of the instrumentals on Pyramid, “Hyper-gamma spaces.” Given that they had two albums between this one and that, I really don't see why, if it's not simple coincidence, they keep looking back to that album. In terms of music though, this instrumental is kind of more in line with the later “Pipeline” from Ammonia Avenue, bouncing along with the classic APP motif sound, a mid-paced effort which to be entirely fair doesn't change much through its four-minute run. There's also what sounds like a violin, though once more I expect this is synthesised.

Sadly, it's back to Lennyland for the again seriously sub-standard “Step by Step”, a song which I don't consider worthy of being on this album at all, with its semi-soul groove, doo-wop style backing vocals and gurgling guitar. Thankfully, the guys do pull it out of the fire right at the end, literally saving the best for last as Colin Blunstone steps in to save the day with the other big hit, the reflective and melancholic “Old and Wise”, which sees a man on his death bed ("As far as my eyes can see/ There are shadows surrounding me”) looking back on his life and wondering how people will remember him when he's dead. ”To those I leave behind I want you all to know/ You've always shared my darkest hours/I'll miss you when I go”.

Sighing its way in on a soft little keyboard and piano line, the song is very laid back indeed and sung in a sad voice, yet with a certain sense of acceptance of the inevitable by Blunstone which really makes the song. It's enough to bring the tears, listening to him. The percussion is slow and measured, the APP resisting making it a slow heartbeat that winds down, instead making it the counterpoint of the song. Bairnson isn't quite conspicuous by his absence, but the song is very much driven on the synth and strings, riding along underneath Blunstone's yearning voice, and it ends on a big thundering drumroll as Mel Collins comes in to take the song home in a way I haven't heard since Hazel O'Connor's “Will You?” Superb ending, and really helps you to forget the, let's be honest, poor crop of songs that have preceded it after “Silence and I.”

TRACK LISTING

Sirius
Eye in the Sky
Children of the Moon
Gemini
Silence and I
You're Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned
Psychobabble
Mammagamma
Step by Step
Old and Wise

It might be ironic that the best known of the Alan Parsons Project's albums gets such short shrift from me, but I don't think it can be denied that this is almost, to use an old footballing cliche, a game of two halves. It opens in terrific style and keeps going, then dips sharply and finally rallies at the end. That gives us, in my opinion anyway, four out of ten songs that are maybe not poor, but certainly below the standard the first five set, and to me that's just not good enough to qualify an album as classic. I like Eye in the Sky – it was, after all, the first of their albums I bought – but I can't put it in the same realm as opuses such as Eve, The Turn of a Friendly Card, Ammonia Avenue or Gaudi.

For me, it's a good album that could have been a great album, but I find myself wondering did the boys run out of ideas and then have to stick on all that filler? Looking at their previous work, they didn't do that – there are few songs I would consider inferior to any of the other tracks on the first four albums – leaving aside Tales of Mystery and Imagination, which I am not that familiar with and don't particularly like all that much – and even where there are, they're usually one or maybe two. Four bad tracks on an album of ten is sort of unacceptable, so while classics like “Sirius”, the title track, “Silence and I” and “Old and Wise” make this album a worthy purchase, in this age of digital downloads, you could easily take half the album and leave the other half.

A real pity, as I wanted this to be one of my favourite APP albums, but I just can't stretch to that. It does have one of the coolest covers though, so there is that.

Rating: 7.5/10
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Old 10-11-2021, 01:51 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Not only due to the fact that it has their two biggest hit singles on it, or the iconic cover, but mostly due to the adoption of the opening instrumental tracks by the Chicago Bulls American Football team,

That's interesting considering the Chicago Bulls American Football Team only existed in 1926.
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Old 10-11-2021, 02:09 PM   #29 (permalink)
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That's interesting considering the Chicago Bulls American Football Team only existed in 1926.
Yeah yeah I knew someone would say oh they're a basketball or baseball or hit-the-other-person-hard-in-the-faceball team. Don't care.
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Old 10-11-2021, 02:20 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Interesting fact: Michael Jordan starred for the Chicago Bulls basketball team, winning six NBA titles in the 1990s. In between, he played baseball for a minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox American Baseball Team. He never, however, played professional football.

Source: The American Book of Duh!
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