CD Review of The Essential Alan Parsons Project by The Alan Parsons Project

Music Home / Entertainment Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

Buy your copy from The Alan Parsons Project:
The Essential Alan Parsons Project
starstarstarstarstar Label: Arista/Legacy
Released: 2007
Buy from

Clocking in at over two and a half hours, The Essential Alan Parsons Project delivers the hits while packing in enough of the other material that made the Alan Parsons Project the perfect blend of progressive intentions with pop sensibilities. Culled from the ten releases that Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons collaborated on as the Alan Parsons Project, Essential is a fabulous collection of incredibly well crafted studio material. No material from the four Alan Parsons solo records are included in this collection, which is a bit of a shame. Songs like “Turn It Up,” with Manfred Mann’s Chris Thompson, and “More Lost Without You,” featuring P.J. Olsson on vocals could only enhance this collection, but at its present length, it may already be stretching attention spans to the maximum.

The first disc covers Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1976) through The Turn of a Friendly Card (1980), while the second disc runs from Eye in the Sky (1982)to Gaudi (1987). The presentation is chronological, with one previously unreleased track, “No Answers Only Questions,” included. That song is grouped with the other material from Amonia Avenue (1984) which is when it was recorded. The Pink Floyd influence within these songs, particularly the earlier stuff, is obvious. Parsons was the engineer on Dark Side of the Moon, and took some of that vibe with him when he was establishing this Project. “Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)” borrows heavily from the Floyd soundscape. Jack Harris, the guest vocalist, borrows a bit from David Gilmore’s delivery and the airy harmonies are all Floyd. “Games People Play” has a Todd Rundgren-like pop sensibility. For years I thought this was a Utopia track.It doesn’t have that Rundgren giant layered harmony sound, but the hook is Todd.

The second disc is a showcase for their ‘80s hits. “Eye in the Sky,” “Prime Time,” and “Don’t Answer Me” are here as they should be. “Limelight,” featuring Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker, is a stellar track. His distinctive vocals stand out during this homage to fame. “Standing on Higher Ground” closes the collection and stands as the end of the Alan Parsons Project. Parsons chose to release records as solo projects and Woolfson focused on creating musical theatre. The Project was a partnership, and with Woolfson focusing on other avenues, Parsons wanted to start performing live. The two essays included in the package create great insight into the formation of the Alan Parsons Project, and the work the two have focused on since Gaudi. Perhaps for those just looking for the “hits,” Essential is too in-depth, but it does provide a perfect representation of their sound. Their formula of blending pop with a solid progressive base was unique and successful. Their commercial achievement of over 45 million in sales worldwide is quite impressive, considering they were only a studio creation. Essential is well worth the investment.

~R. David Smola