Tuesday, September 24, 1996

Alan Parsons On Air released

On Air

Alan Parsons

Released: September 24, 1996

Peak: 12 DF

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: progressive rock lite


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Blue Blue Sky [1:32] v: Eric Stewart
  2. Too Close to the Sun (Bairnson/Elliott/Parsons) [5:06] v: Neil Lockwood
  3. Blown by the Wind [5:25] v: Eric Stewart
  4. Cloudbreak (instrumental) (Bairnson/Elliott/Parsons) [4:39]
  5. I Can't Look Down [4:38] v: Neil Lockwood
  6. Brother Up in Heaven [3:54] v: Neil Lockwood (1996 single, --)
  7. Fall Free (Bairnson/Elliott/Parsons) [4:33] v: Steve Overland (1997 single, --)
  8. Apollo (instrumental) (Bairnson/Elliott/Parsons) [5:59] speech by John F. Kennedy (1997 single, --)
  9. So Far Away [4:04] v: Christopher Cross (1996 single, --)
  10. One Day to Fly (Elliott/English) [6:16] v: Graham Dye
  11. Blue Blue Sky – Reprise [4:29] v: Eric Stewart
Unless otherwise noted, songs are written by Ian Bairnson. The ‘v’ after the song listing indicates who provides lead vocals.

Total Running Time: 50:50

The Players:

  • Alan Parsons (engineering, mixing, keyboards)
  • Andrew Powell (orchestral arranger and conductor)
  • Ian Bairnson (guitar, bass synthesizer, bass guitar)
  • Stuart Elliott (drums, bongos, keyboards and drum programming)
  • Richard Cottle (saxophone, keyboards)
  • Eric Stewart, Neil Lockwood, Steve Overland, Christopher Cross, Graham Dye (vocals)
  • John Giblin (bass)
  • Christopher Warren-Green (orchestra leader)
  • Gary Sanctuary (keyboards)


3.209 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)

Quotable: “Parsons probably isn't going to win over any new fans with this one, but anyone who has liked them in the past will probably enjoy On Air” – Steve Marshall, TheNightOwl.com

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

On his second post-project release, Alan Parsons hands over writing duties to longtime Project guitarist Ian Bairnson, who pens or co-pens all but one track on the album. Bairnson was supposedly “spurred on following the ‘friendly fire’ death of [his] cousin in Iraq.” DV The album’s “concept deals with the fascination of flight and the yearning people have to become one with the sky.” AMG Unlike most Project albums, a quick perusal of the song titles makes the theme obvious. When you listen to the music, you also hear a “light, breezy feel that carries each song, simulating an effortless flight through the clouds.” AMG

However, “as beautiful and imagery-filled as this idea is, its potential never…get[s] off the ground. Most of the songs…lack the intensity…necessary to establish any concern for the main idea. Instead, they consist of metaphorical lyrics that go off on strange tangents, misconstrued and long-drawn-out stanzas that seem empty, and a slight pretentiousness…usually absent from this band's material. AMG Basically, the album’s ”sound is smooth and gentle but has difficulty in holding interest.” AMG After listening to the album you may find yourself easing back in your chair and letting out a relaxed sigh, but nothing will leave you tapping your fingers on the arm of the chair.

As always, Parsons maintains “complete mastery of the recording studio,” DV and now that he is with a smaller label, Parsons has more control over the work.

”From the opening notes of Blue Blue Sky, man looks up and dreams of being able to break the bonds with earth.” DV

As the track segues into Too Close to the Sun, a jet roars across your speakers. The sound is so realistic that at high volumes, you'll swear it's flying right over the room. NO ”Parsons captures all the power of the jet's flyby and sonic boom. The…myth of Icarus is put to music…featuring a powerful lead vocal from Neil Lockwood.” DV

”From the development of balloons which are, for the most part, out of human control (Blown by the Wind) to dealing with people's fear of flying (Can't Look Down), Parsons and crew choose not to dwell on a history of aviation…but rather focus on the poetry of developments and modern-day situations.” DV

”Interspersed is Cloudbreak, one of two instrumentals…and proof positive that Parsons and crew have lost nothing over the course of 20 years of creating music.” DV It “is superb, and ranks up with the best” NO of Parsons’ instrumentals.

“The highlight…is Brother Up in Heaven, Bairnson’s tribute to his cousin. Unlike some of the other songs, the theme here is less on flight and more on dealing with the loss of a loved one and the process of grieving. Sample lyric: ‘I still see his shadow / His laugh lingers on / When I dream, we’re all back together / When I wake, he’s gone.’” DV

"Fall Free is one of the CD’s better cuts, and it lightens the mood a bit after ‘Brother Up in Heaven.’” NO

”Now that humans have made it into the realm of soaring with the birds, Parsons looks at the natural progression of our thinking - thinking which led us into space. The instrumental Apollo "features excerpts from a speech by John F. Kennedy and is almost techno at times. The crunching power chords toward the end of the song bear a strong resemblance to ‘Where's the Walrus?’ from the [1986 Project album] Stereotomy.” NO ”Both instrumentals…are appealing, and capture the essence of the album more so than any of the vocally inhabited songs.” AMG

’Apollo’ “serves as a mood-setting piece that brings things up to speed, leading the way to So Far Away, another track that speaks of the dangers one faces when they defy gravity. Christopher Cross takes over the role of lead…and voices it perfectly (with all due respect to Britons, I don't think anyone but an American could have sang a lyric about the Challenger disaster.” DV

This song and ‘Too Close to the Sun’ “are the album's finer points, but even these songs fall short of the domineering style that once surrounded the Alan Parsons Project.” AMG ”Most of the songs contain well-established harmonies and a fair amount of guitar and keyboard mingling, but it's the lack of depth and assertiveness that holds this album back.” AMG

”But while boundaries continue to be broken and experiments in flight occasionally still fail, man still finds himself dreaming about the next levels of flight, bringing the listener to One Day to Fly. Not surprisingly, the song captures the dream that…we all wish we could fly without the man-made gadgets and high-technology.” DV

The album closes with a reprise of the opening song. “The way the album returns to Blue Blue Sky, featuring some beautiful guitar work from Bairnson, is a very smart move.” DV

In the end, “Parsons probably isn't going to win over any new fans with this one, but anyone who has liked them in the past will probably enjoy On Air.” NO “This disc takes a few listens to really appreciate, but that's usually the sign of a good CD.” NO

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 4/4/2008; last updated 7/20/2022.

Monday, September 16, 1996

DJ Shadow Endtroducing released


DJ Shadow

Released: September 16, 1996

Peak: -- US, 17 UK

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK

Genre: trip-hop (electronica/hip-hop)


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. Best Foot Forward
  2. Building Steam with a Grain of Salt
  3. The Number Song
  4. Changeling/Transmission #1
  5. What Does Your Soul Look Like, Pt. 4
  6. (untitled)
  7. Stem/ Long Stem/ Transmission #2 (10/96, 74 UK)
  8. Mutual Slump
  9. Organ Donor
  10. Why Hip Hop Sucks in ‘96
  11. Midnight in a Perfect World (9/96, 54 UK)
  12. Napalm Brain/ Scatter Brain
  13. What Does Your Soul Look Like, Pt. 1: Blue Sky Revisit/ Transmission #3

Total Running Time: 63:23


3.985 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)


“Rendered all other ‘trip-hop’ entirely irrelevant.” – Blender Magazine


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

In 1994, Josh “DJ Shadow” Davis, “a hip-hop DJ with a scholar’s sense of purpose” BL “locked himself in his basement with a sampler, a sequencer and one of the world’s strangest” TL and “gargantuan” BL “record collections. Two years later, he emerged with a completely original electronic symphony.” TL

“Davis’ debut drew on horror-film ambience and pounding prog-rock, but was anchored by old-school production.” BL “As a suburban Californian kid, DJ Shadow tended to treat hip-hop as a musical innovation, not as an explicit social protest, which goes a long way toward explaining why his debut album Endtroducing... sounded like nothing else at the time of its release. Using hip-hop, not only its rhythms but its cut-and-paste techniques, as a foundation, Shadow created a deep, endlessly intriguing world on Endtroducing, one where there are no musical genres, only shifting sonic textures and styles.” STE His effort effectively “rendered all other ‘trip-hop’ entirely irrelevant.” BL

Endtroducing “builds on a solid historical foundation, giving it a rich, multi-faceted sound.” STE “Shadow created the entire album from samples, almost all pulled from obscure, forgotten vinyl, and the effect is that of a hazy, half-familiar dream – parts of the record sound familiar, yet it's clear that it only suggests music you’ve heard before, and that the multi-layered samples and genres create something new.” STE

“The 13 tracks vary in length and tone – some are beat driven and under a minute while others have orchestral swells and stretch to almost ten – but all are constructed entirely from samples, and the only voices are from obscure spoken word and comedy albums that sound like they’re being beamed from outer space.” TL

“Somehow a narrative emerges, and on Building Steam with a Grain of Salt, we even get autobiography by proxy. ‘I’d like to just continue to be able to express myself,’ says a self-taught drummer through the fuzz and pop of vinyl scratches, ‘as best as I can.’” TL “It’s not only a major breakthrough for hip-hop and electronica, but for pop music.” STE

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 3/23/2010; last updated 11/16/2023.

Friday, September 13, 1996

The Death of Tupac Shakur: September 13, 1996

Originally posted September 13, 2012.

image from vigilantcitizen.com

On September 7, 1996, rapper/actor Tupac Shakur (generally referred to as 2Pac) attended the Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon boxing match in Las Vegas, Nevada. When Shakur and his Death Row Records entourage left the MGM Grand Hotel, a fight broke out. Later that night, Shakur was in the riding to an event with Death Row’s Suge Knight when a car pulled up beside them and fired roughly 13 shots at the car. Shakur was hit four times. He died a week later on September 13, 1996. He was 25.

He is estimated to have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. His songs often depicted the harsh realities of ghetto life, largely inspired by his own upbringing in East Harlem. His parents’ background as members of the Black Panthers also shaped the social commentary in 2Pac’s music. Shakur faced trouble with the law and was caught up in the East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry commonly assumed to be the reason for his gang-style killing.

His music career started with Digital Underground in 1990. He worked as a roadie and backup dancer and contributed a rap on their “Same Song” for the 1991 film Nothing But Trouble. He launched his solo career that same year with 2Pacalypse Now. Me Against the World (1995) and All Eyez on Me (1996) are both DMDB top 1000 albums and went to #1, a position he attained three more times posthumously. He’s charted more than 20 albums; only four were released in his lifetime. Eleven of his albums have been top tens.

Resources and Related Links: