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CD Reviews: Review of A Valid Path by Alan Parsons
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Alan Parsons: A Valid Path (2004)

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Continuing to journey into the world of progressive pop, Alan Parsons’ latest offering, A Valid Path, is an easy listen as Parsons tweaks his sound a bit by adding an electronica feel to this work.

Those familiar with his hits know that he can craft some catchy tunes. “Games People Play” (1980), “Eye in the Sky” (1982), and “Don’t Answer Me” (1984) are three of the Alan Parsons Project most popular singles and that doesn’t include the music that accompanies the Chicago Bulls introductions that has been heard by pro basketball fans a million times (“Sirius” also from 1982 is actually the instrumental introduction to “Eye in the Sky”). Parsons has always been heavy on concept and explored an ambitious layer of keyboard instrumentation to express the thematic emotions of the records he has created.

With A Valid Path, he enlists an impressive set of guests to accentuate his journey into electonica. Shpongle, Crystal Method and Uberzone all contribute writing, sequencing and keyboard work to the album, while David Gilmore, an old pal from Pink Floyd, contributes some guitar work to the opening track “Return to Tunguska.”

I would argue that this disc is really an evolution of his previous music, and not necessarily as revolutionary as that “electronica” label’s connotation. Parsons revisits two older compositions and puts the electronica spin on them. “Mannagamma 04” is a reworking of the instrumental from 1982’s Eye in the Sky album and “A Recurring Dream Within a Dream” is a new take on 1975’s “A Dream within a Dream” from 1975’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Both are, dare I say, pretty cool.

The standout track on the disc is the radio friendly (if radio actually played anything interesting) “More Lost Without You” and features the vocals of alternative pop artist P.J. Olsson (who sounds a bit like Peter Frampton to me for some reason). This record reminds me of almost every Alan Parsons (or Alan Parsons Project) record I own in that he mixes in some interesting instrumentals, a really good pop song and other ear friendly material. David Pack of Ambrosia co-writes, sings, plays keyboards and guitars on “You Can Run,” the second best track on A Valid Path.

This is a very listenable, occasionally toe tapping, pleasant record. If you want something a bit different with a dash of pop sensibility, you should check it out.

~R. David Smola 


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