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
~R. David Smola