The Sicilian Defence
Released: March 23, 2014
Sales (in millions): --
Genre: progressive rock lite
Song Title [time]
All tracks composed by Eric Woolfson.
Total Running Time: 39:52
2.444 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)
About the Album:
In 1979, the Alan Parsons Project were exhausted and ready for a break. However, their record company, Arista, set release dates for the band’s third and fourth albums. The Project responded by recording two albums at once. Parsons said in 2013 that they told the label, “These are your last two albums. Now give us a new deal.” WK The first of these, Eve, received a 1979 release date. The second, The Sicilian Defence, was not as well received.
Named after a chess move, the album was a collection of instrumentals recorded on the spot in three days instead of the usual months it took them to craft an album. OS There is some discrepancy as to whether the material was recorded in 1979 or 1981, but the stories seem to point more to 1979.
In an event, the songs were “produced rather lazily and poorly written on purpose as to figuritively raise the middle finger to Arista.” LM The album was really a collection of “incomplete sketches that were never fleshed out into proper songs, and whose titles follow a particular variation of the ches opening for which the album was named. WK The record company was reportedly “so horrified by the results that they stashed it away in their vaults, never to be released.” LM
Parsons himself said it was “created with very little effort or enthusiasm” LM and that “it doesn’t have the polish or finesse that all the albums that were released previously had. It’s really not up to the standard of the real Project albums.” WK In 2005, he said “it was never released and never will be, if I have anything to do with it. I have not heard it since it was finished. I hope the tapes no longer exist.” WK
Of course, the hype machine kicked in for fans of the Project who wanted to hear every scrap produced by the group. The album gained a “reputation for being a musical joke, or even a display of musical hooliganry.” OS Fans may have been led to believe that “Alan and Eric had really let their hair down on this one, making something of a [Beatles’] ‘Revolution No. 9,’ or of a Metal Machine Music,” OS the infamous Lou Reed album many cite as unlistenable. As such a work would have been very uncharacteristic of the usual polish associated with the Project, it naturally created “an atmosphere of intrigue.” OS
However, an edited version of P-QB4 was retitled as Elsie’s Theme and included on the 2008 reissue of Eve. The original is one of the longest tracks and “has the prettiest melody on the album, nocturnal and elegant, that may deserve salvation, even if six minutes is still overkill.” OS
In 2014, the full album was released as part of the 11-CD box set The Complete Albums Collection. There was nothing “atonal or rebellious or hooliganish” OS about the album. It consists of “a bunch of instrumental numbers – all of them rhythmic, usually set to simple drum machine patterns, all of them played either on synthesizer or on piano, all of them probably largely improvised, but mostly in standard keys, using standard chords, and generating the usual melancholic aura associated with the Project. Nothing particularly exciting and nothing particularly awful.” OS
The longest track on the album, Kt-QB3, “mainly consists of one single jazzy theme looped on endless repeat, and could, perhaps, work as a rhythm part for a more elaborate composition, but nothing else.” OS There are other tracks which sound like, “say, an early underworked demo for Pink Floyd’s ‘On the Run’…and others sounding like equally underworked demos for the Project’s own stuff, usually with one or two basic mu¬sical ideas per track.” OS
Parsons said in 2016, “I’m happy that it’s fulfilling a need to document, historically, the entire catalog of the Alan Parsons Project, but it’s not our finest hour by any stretch of the imagination.” WK Certainly “it ain’t [Bob Dylan’s] Blonde on Blonde where composing and recording on the-spot are concerned” OS but it is “interesting to hear…what kinds of things Parsons could come up with when working on autopilot.” OS
Notes: This appears to only be available as a part of the 11-CD box set The Complete Albums Collection.
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First posted 9/24/2021.