Sunday, June 23, 2013

Alan Parsons Project - Pyramid

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Sunday.

This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Pyramid, the third studio album from the Alan Parsons Project. This 1978 concept album, which focused on the pyramids of Giza, peaked at number 49 in the UK, number 26 on the US Billboard Hot 200, and number 25 in Canada. Pyramid power and the legend of Tutankhamen (aka King Tut) were very popular in the US and UK at the time.

Side one opens with the instrumental “Voyager”. The opening keyboards by Eric Woolfson and Duncan Mackay give this overture an eerie, cosmic vibe. It blends seamlessly into the next track.

“What Goes Up…” was released as the second single. Bassist David Paton on the lead vocals adds to the wonderment of this one. The lyrics try to reconcile conventional logic with those things that appear to be impossible and implausible.

“The Eagle Will Rise Again” is next. Colin Blunstone has the vocal duty on this gentle ballad about hope, redemption and rebirth.

For the rocking “One More River” Lenny Zakatek takes the lead on vocals. This song signifies the end of the journey that started with the previous track, noting there is just one final hurdle to clear.

The lead vocals on “Can’t Take It With You” are by Dean Ford and represent a spiritual servant in the tale. He tells the great Pharaoh that all his wealth will remain behind while he dies; only the spirit transcends to whatever is next after death.

Side two begins “In the Lap of the Gods”, the instrumental B-side to the first and second single. It opens with a tolling bell, announcing the death, followed by a steady march driven by the drums of Stuart Elliott. Those fade as Ian Bainsorn's acoustic guitar lays down a mystical melody. It all builds into a beautifully orchestrated ending movement.

The first single was “Pyramania”. Jack Harris is the lead vocalist here, portraying an anxious man who is seeking instant answers and gratification from pyramid power. He is eagerly willing to believe any thing he reads about it.

The third and final instrumental track on the album was “Hyper-Gamma-Spaces”. With an up-tempo rhythm, we continue down the cosmic, mysterious course. My feet instantly tap along to the beat.

With the closing, beautiful ballad “Shadow of a Lonely Man”, John Miles sings lead and Blunstone provides additional vocals.

Back in the late 70's and early 80's, I admit I was hardly a big fan of the Alan Parsons Project outside of songs that crossed over into the US Top 40. During my teenaged years I just was not that into the progressive rock scene. As such, 1978's Pyramid was very much a mystery to me. I heard the album for the first time about five years or so ago, and I found I rather enjoyed it. For me, I think coming to it with a more mature musical ear really helped.

Looking for more Alan Parsons Project reviews? Check the links below:

- For 1980’s The Turn of a Friendly Card, click here.

- For 1982’s Eye in the Sky, click here.


HERC said...

My parents took my sister and I to see the Treasures Of Tutankhamun at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History back in the Summer of 1977. I remember it as both the coolest thing I had ever seen up to that time and the most people I had ever been around up to that time - it was crazy crowded and probably the roots of my claustrophobia:)

The following year Steve Martin debuted his song "King Tut" on Saturday Night Live around my birthday and I used some of my gift cash to buy his album A Wild And Crazy Guy. That album is celebrating it's 35th Anniversary this year - any chance you'll be reviewing it?

At that time, I was not into the music of the Alan Parsons Project (APP) though I have a tape of songs I recorded off of WLRW in 1977 and it has part of "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You" on it, like I accidentally recorded it. I did know who Alan Parsons was though thanks to two records I (still) own: the 45 for Pilot's "Magic" and Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon album both bear his name. And if you haven't heard... PINK FLOYD ALBUMS ARE NOW ON SPOTIFY!

My formal introduction to the works of APP came in 1983, shortly after I began dating the pretty brown-eyed girl who would eventually become my wife. She was (and is) a fan of APP and we listened to Eye In The Sky frequently with our eyes closed;);) I dutifully purchased every album Alan Parsons released, both with the Project and as a solo artist, until 1996's On Air - which she didn't care for at all - for her.

It has been my mission to acquire all the hits compilations and all the remastered expanded editions that have been issued, a mission I have successfully completed and if you ask her, she will tell you her favorite APP album is "the one with "Don't Answer Me" and "Prime Time"" - it's Ammonia Avenue but she never can remember the title.

As for me, I don't think I have a favorite album by APP but I had a mixtape I made of my favorite tracks and a few years ago I made a similar mix CD, crossfading the songs to make one long continuous mix. According to iTunes play counts, my favorite Alan Parsons song is 1993's "Turn It Up" with vocals by Chris Thompson. Runner-up is "Pyschobabble" and the bronze medal goes to "Mammagamma" so I guess by default my favorite album is Eye In The Sky.

Now that you've reviewed three APP albums, do you have a favorite album or song by them?

I'm going to leave you with links to two tracks on Spotify that ALWAYS remind me of the song "Eye In The Sky" when I listen to them - let me know if you hear what I hear:

"Need You Now" - Lady Antebellum
"Instant Crush" - Daft Punk feat. Julian Casablancas

Martin Maenza said...

Not sure if I will be getting to Steve Martin or not. The 35th anniversary albums are filling in only when I have open days, which seems rare. Tons of 1983 albums getting reviewed this year.

Favorite APP song or album? Gotta go straight to song with "Eye In the Sky".

Thanks, as always, for the wonderful comments. Always appreciated.