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Alan Parsons Project - The Turn of a Friendly Card

  by Lisa Torem

published: 24 / 12 / 2015

Alan Parsons Project - The Turn of a Friendly Card
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Lisa Torem enjoys revisiting The Alan Parsons Project’s fifth studio album, ‘The Turn of The Friendly Hand’, in it’s thirty-fifth anniversary deluxe format, but advises the listener to take his/her time accessing its gratuitous bonus tracks

The Alan Parsons Project first released ‘The Turn of a Friendly Card’ in November, 1980. The band featured the skills and talents of Parsons and Eric Woolfson, who met at Abbey Road Studios in 1974 — the band stayed together until 1987. ‘The Turn of a Friendly Card’ was their fifth album. A double disc CD has been issued to celebrate the album’s thirty-fifth anniversary. It features final takes, demos with guide vocals/ extended guitar solos and alternative versions of popular tracks plus twenty-seven never-heard-before tunes from the late Eric Woolfson’s personal archives. Eric Woolfson wrote the lion’s share of the songs recorded for the Alan Parsons Project and there are many opportunities to witness how he worked from start to finish here. You will hear him laying down “guide vocals” where the lyrics have not yet been set in stone, where his voice seems to be wandering around the melody trying to find a home and then you will have the opportunity to hear the same song completed. If you’re interested in how Eric created so many introspective arrangements, this album will please you immensely. Alan Parsons is also very well represented as an arranger and performer. Having had decades of experience producing or engineering bands like Pink Floyd and the Beatles, he has developed a keen ear for many styles of music. He was also in charge of remastering this final product. Although I did not receive a copy and can not comment directly on the art or specific liner notes, the press release revealed that a booklet written by Parsons, Hazel and Sally Woolfson and members of the Alan Parsons Project will be included which details the actual production history and more. Lyrics and a series of previously unpublished photos will also attract the listener. CD1: Begins with the ceremonial horns and riveting riffery of ‘May Be a Price to Pay’. “While the sorcerer slept, the apprentice decided to play” gives you the jist of this animated, detailed story. Dreamy strings provide a post mortem. ‘Games People Play’ bursts open with sleek pop appeal, a universal story line and a sharp, electric guitar solo. ‘Time’ features tender harmonies that float like driftwood on a mountain stream. ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Home’ is less remarkable, more of a filler, but then ‘The Gold Bug’ sets itself apart with eerie whistling. The theme song: ‘The Turn of The Cards’ Part 1 and ‘The Ace of Swords’ convey Baroque purity. A robust electric guitar hook makes ‘Snake Eyes’ pop. The second version, ‘The Turn of a Friendly Card 2’ would only entertain the die-in-the-wool fanatic. That said, the beautiful melody does bear repeating. The next version features guitar and horn. Finally, seven bonus tracks appear in the form of demos, backing tracks, overdubs, early studio versions plus guide vocals and rough mixes. Talented vocalist Chris Rainbow appears on one version of ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ and the demo of ‘The Gold Bug’ shines with promise even at this early stage. CD2: There’s ample time to get to know Eric closely on the eight tracks designated as “Eric’s Songwriting Diaries”. Eric vamps and improvises on the piano and experiments with volume and style. If you’re a great fan of his music at large or just curious about how a song goes from beginning stages to studio perfect, you’re in for a treat, but the eleven bonus tracks tagged on after the “diaries” can weigh the most dedicated listener down. Again, if you feel inspired by ‘The Ace of Swords’ carried through via synth “Orchestration” and then with simple piano chords under vocal melody, you’ve come to the right place. Echoing the album’s major casino theme, you may be taking a gamble if you choose to take in all of this material at one sitting, but if you enjoyed this album the first time around, you’ll definitely enjoy it here, just in more fairly-spaced doses.

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Alan Parsons Project - The Turn of a Friendly Card

Alan Parsons Project - The Turn of a Friendly Card

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