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The Alan Parsons Project - Tales Of Mystery And Imagination CD (album) cover


The Alan Parsons Project


Crossover Prog

4.03 | 619 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars By 1976 progressive rock was already becoming tired and long in the tooth. The heavyweights - PINK FLOYD, JETHRO TULL, GENESIS, YES, ELP - were still around, but few new acts could challenge their dominance, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that prog as a whole was not a particularly successful commercial art form. The emergence of the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT provided a much needed short term boost to prog, even if 80% of Parsons' credibility was a result of his involvement with FLOYD, and he would ultimately take the project into the mainstream. But for the debut, we are dealing with a suitably ambitious adaptation of the works of the master of macabre himself, with a cast of dozens, a formula later adopted by a plethora of explorers like JEFF WAYNE, INTERGALACTIC TOURING BAND, MANDALABAND, and even some of MIKE OLDFIELD's 1980s output.

Consistency amid daunting variety are among the qualities that make "Tales" such a winner and so sweet sounding decades later. Firstly, the repeating melodic theme first introduced in "A Dream within a Dream" and coaxed into orgasmic waves on "The Fall of the House of Usher" became a blueprint for countless symphonic, electronic, and neo progressive artists for years to come, among them ELOY, CLEPSYDRA and even BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST. The choral accompaniments do not hold back at all, and are all the more endearing on tracks like the schizophrenically brilliant "Cask of Amontillado". While "Dr Tarr and Professor Fether" provide the blueprint for more oozing commercial material that would eventually follow, it was a breath of fresh air at the time. Both "The Raven" and "Tell Tale Heart" capture the foreboding and torment of Edgar Allan Poe's protagonists such that even their repetitive nature seems justified. Even "To One in Paradise" distinguishes itself by its poetic understatement. This is an immaculately constructed work that still revels in a certain raw charm.

Ultimately, PARSONS should not be flawed for his part in the birth of arena rock which may have done more to stifle prog than punk ever could, because "Tales" provides enough cues for a more artistically rewarding direction that few, even APP itself, ultimately followed. 4.5 stars, flip a coin, tales wins.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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