The Alan Parsons Project is an interesting story on how a man (Alan Parsons), with a guiding force in Eric Woolfson, assembled one of the more successful progressive bands with plenty of albums and AM hits. Alan Parsons, whose previous work included recording engineer duties with The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and others notables, wanted to help Eric Woolfson put together a stream of musicians to perform on an album called Tales of Mystery and Imagination, hence his “project” – the name, Alan Parsons Project, stuck.
Released in 1976, after working with Woolfson, the album saw surprising acceptance and Parsons inked a deal with Arista Records, a hot “in” label begun by the artist friendly Clive Davis. The conceptual album, I Robot, was created, produced, and then released in the summer of 1977 and in short time, the growing fanbase has chosen “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” as the hit single from the album. The success would continue through albums like Pyramid (1978); Eve (1979); and The Turn of a Friendly Card (1980); before arriving at Eye in the Sky, which was released in 1982.
I Robot yieleded a fantastic tune in its lead-off single, “I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You,” a funky song that reached the coveted and important Top 40 benchmark in the US. Naturally, a successful 7” during this era would help immensely to move LPs off the shelves, and so it did. While other single introductions from I Robot did not make the TOP 40 cut, the momentum was already achieved and through the next 5 years leading into the release of Eye in the Sky, The Alan Parsons Project held a fan-base in thrall.
Arista/Legacy have expanded and remastered two albums in the APP catalogue that include I Robot and Eye in the Sky. The remastering of I Robot and Eye in the Sky was done by Alan Parsons, whose work on both albums is evident from the very first tracks. I Robot’s opener, the instrumental “I Robot” is crisp and clear, as are the following tracks on the album. Eye in the Sky’s opener track (which I lovingly know as the introduction to the Chicago Bulls) is “Sirius”, and, like I Robot’s beginning song, is equally crisp, with a pronounced clarity, further evidenced as “Sirius” segues into the album’s title cut, “Eye in the Sky.”
The expanded I Robot includes 5 bonus cuts that really complement this reissue. Parsons and Woolfson felt it important to include the listener in on the creative process during the I Robot sessions. “I Robot” (Boules Experiment) uses and distorts the metal clanging balls for possible inclusion into the fabric of the song, “I Robot.” You’ll hear the familiar music of the song with a very evident clanging of the metal balls. Of course, it wasn’t used. The next bonus cut is an early recorded demo of a chord sequence for “Breakdown” (the full song was sung by Hollies’ Allan Clarke), a short piece that shows a slower tempo than what was eventually used on the excellent but deprived song, although given a chance at single status as a final 7” release from the album’s illustrious collection, which didn’t chart well.
Other bonus tracks include a rough mix of a backing track for “I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You, a brilliantly created piece that was the groundwork for the eventual song that grew out of it. As a matter of fact, it is included bonus tracks like these that make Expanded Editions so important and definitive because they take us in to the studio and show us the creative process that leads to the songs that we fall in love with, that become essential songs in the soundtrack of our own lives. An ‘early stage rough mix’ does the same for “Day After Day.” Finally, for I Robot, an interesting 10-minute medley that features a recombined collection of early stage mixes that seemingly takes on new life as a reimagined song. This medley is called “The Naked Robot,” stirring in fascinating elements to create a disjointed song with familiarities running through it.
The expanded Eye in the Sky includes 6 bonus tracks as additions to the originals. The first is a demo of “Sirius” – familiar but a demo; nice inclusion. “Old and Wise” is an Eric Woolfson ‘vocal guide’, and early stage tool used to provide the eventual singer an idea on how the vocals were originally imagined. “Any Other Day” is an uncompleted song written and demoed for the Eye in the Sky album but was never fleshed out – definitely skeletal here but enjoyable. The remaining three bonus tracks include an Eric Woolfson (who went on to sing the completed song) ‘vocal guide’ for “Silence & I,” a medley of Eye in the Sky pieces similar in vein to the previously mentioned “The Naked Robot” in “The Naked Eye,” and a stitching of Andrew Powell’s (the ever present orchestral arranger of the Project) orchestral pieces similar to “The Naked Eye” medley called “Eye Pieces – Classical Naked Eye.”
The booklets included with both albums are also expanded with new liner notes and observations. The liner notes are from Jerry Ewing, from Classic Rock Magazine along with insightful commentaries by Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson. There are plenty of photos and credits for you to enjoy and read over.
The included bonus tracks on these two APP expanded and remastered reissues are perfect examples of adds to album works that let’s us peek into the creative process quite intimately. As fans, we encourage more of these archival records but would love to have some more extras like video recordings of performances, some actual outtakes that never made the inclusion, and live audio recordings of the support tours. Greedy? Maybe! But we’re loyal fans that want definitive versions of albums that we grew to love. Alan Parsons seems to have an idea of that with these excellent inclusions to these remasters…but we’ll take more. Remember, we’re fans.