Friday, April 26, 2019

Alan Parsons’ The Secret: First album in 15 years!

Originally posted 2/27/2019; updated 4/26/2019.

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
  1. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice [5:44]
  2. Miracle [3:22] v: Jason Mraz (2/25/2019)
  3. As Light Falls [3:58] v: Alan Parsons
  4. One Note Symphony [4:43] v: Todd Cooper
  5. Sometimes [5:08] v: Lou Gramm
  6. Soireé Fantastique [5:27] v: Alan Parsons/Todd Cooper
  7. Fly to Me [3:45] v: Mark Mikel
  8. Requiem [4:02] v: Todd Cooper
  9. Years of Glory [4:05] v: P.J. Olsson
  10. The Limelight Fades Away [3:36] v: Jordan Huffman
  11. I Can’t Get There from Here [4:38] v: Jared Mahone (March 2019)

Released: April 26, 2019


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)


Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- AU, -- CN


Genre: progressive rock lite


Review:

After making a name for himself as an engineer on classic albums such as the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Alan Parsons helmed the Alan Parsons Project from 1976 to 1987. The group featured a rotating lineup of members with only Eric Woolfson as a constant. The two also worked together on Freudiana in 1990 which, for all practical purposes, served as an Alan Parsons Project album.

In 1993, Parsons released his first solo album, although he relied on many of the same players he’d turned to over the years for Project albums. He released four studio albums from 1993 to 2004, the last being A Valid Path, a “voyage into spongey electronica and arty synth-pop” UCR which Parsons said “was very much an attempt to capture a younger audience,” UCR but he confessed “it just didn’t do very well, didn’t set the world alight.” UCR

After that, he took a fifteen-year hiatus from recording, during which time Woolfson passed away from kidney cancer in 2009, derailing any hope of the pair working together again. However, Parsons’ 2019 album The Secret “is a U-turn back to the organic, light symphonic pop-rock style” UCR “for which the Project were so loved.” UDM Parsons says the album “could have been slotted between any of the Alan Parsons Project albums over the years…Any of the albums we made were pretty much timeless and didn’t really fit into any particular decade or year. I feel the same way about this new album, that it could have been made at any time.” UCM

The album also reflects Parsons’ longtime interest in magic. “[It] has always been a passion of mine,” he says. “I am a member of the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. I’ve also worked with the Japanese magic company Tenyo, writing instruction books and catalogues for their tricks. I dabble with magic myself in my free time, so an album with magical influences was a natural progression.” UDM

The first single, Miracle, continues the ever-revolving-door tradition of musicians with Jason Mraz (“I’m Yours”) providing lead vocals. Parsons explained to LouderSound.com, “I met Jason two years ago through a neighbour who grows coffee on his ranch. Jason wanted to grow coffee himself and our neighbour, Jay, was kind enough to introduce us since we had mutual musical interests.” LS

When Mraz heard “Miracle” he said “it sounded like a song right off of Eye in the Sky.” LS He said he had early memories of hearing Parsons’ “Eye in the Sky” while “strapped in the backseat of my mom's green Fiat, 1982. Alan Parsons is on the radio and I’m singing along, harmonising. That sound of rich harmony over magical words would stick with me for my whole life and ultimately become what my own career is about – trying to solve universal quandaries through song craft.” LS Mraz has even recorded an unreleased version of “Eye in the Sky” which Parsons has said he should put out some time. UCR

The two were not in the same studio when recording the song. Parsons was in Santa Barbara and Mraz recorded the vocals in Dallas. They sent files back and forth. That was similar to the process of adding vocals to Sometimes. Lou Gramm, of Foreigner fame (“Waiting for a Girl Like You,” “I Want to Know What Love Is”), recorded his vocals in New York.

Another notable guest on the album is Steve Hackett, best known for his work as the guitarist for Genesis in their early years. He appears on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the orchestra overture which opens the album. UCR Parsons said he “wanted some fairly adventurous guitar parts on it” UCR and “that there were only two people who could have done this: either Brian May or Steve Hackett.” UCR

Parsons also turns to musicians with whom he’d worked before. P.J. Olsson, who sings on Beyond the Years of Glory, took on lead vocal duties for the Alan Parsons Live Project in 2002. He also contributed to the 2004 Alan Parsons’ album, A Valid Path.

Ian Bairnson also makes an appearance, contributing guitar – as he did on every Alan Parsons Project album. In the early ‘70s, he was a member of the band Pilot (“Magic”). Parsons produced their self-titled debut album and then used most of the members on the Alan Parsons Project debut, Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

One Note Symphony will “sort of be the anthem for the [50th anniversary] for the moon landing.” UCR Parsons explained that he was commissioned to play it in July at Cocoa Beach, Floria, near the Kennedy Space Center. The title refers to the one note in which the song is sung – the “resonant frequency of the universe,” UCR also known as the Schumann Frequency. UCR


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