Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alan Parsons Project - Eye in the Sky

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Eye in the Sky, the sixth studio album by the British progressive rock group known as the Alan Parsons Project. This June of 1982 LP followed the successful The Turn of a Friendly Card from late 1980 (click here for that review). It went to number 27 in the group’s native UK, number 8 in Sweden, number 3 in Norway, and number 1 in both Austria and Germany; over in North America, it reached number 3 in Canada and number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Side one opens with the short instrumental track “Sirius”. Opening low and building with intensity, it has became a popular cut to be played at college and professional sporting arenas in North America. The Chicago Bulls have used it to introduce their starting line-ups since the 1990’s.

That cuts leads perfectly into “Eye in the Sky”, the hit first single from the album. In the US, it went to number 11 on the Mainstream Rock charts and number 3 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary charts. It also went to number 6 in Canada and New Zealand. The lyrics reference George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eight-Four including the ever-watchful Big Brother. The guitar riffs, along with Eric Woolfson’s vocals, are very hypnotic, lulling the listener into a sense of calm and relaxation. I can remember this song very clearly being all over the radio during the summer of 1982; if we didn’t hear it at least once an hour between the pop and rock stations I would have been very surprised.

“Children of the Moon” was the B-side to the third single. Guitarist Dave Paton provides the vocals on this spacey sounding tune.

Scottish singer Chris Rainbow does the vocal duties on “Gemini”, a song about two people being so in-tune with one another it is as if they are twins. The echoing on the lead and backing vocals throughout builds on that connection. The song served as the B-side to the first single.

I like the piano opening on “Silence and I”; it sets the tone of isolation for the rest of the seven-plus-minute composition. Midway through, the tempo changes drastically to a triumphant fanfare before winding back down again.

Side two begins with “You’re Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned”. This track is a big departure from side on as it has a more rocking sound to it. Lenny Zakatek gives it an added edge with his gruff vocals.

The second single “Psychobabble” only went to number 57 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 54 on the Mainstream Rock charts. I like the bass guitar on this one; it gives it a blues vibe. The air-raid siren in the middle is an unexpected surprise.

The instrumental track “Mammagamma” is next. This one has a definitive 80’s sound to it thanks to the synthesizers by Parsons and the steady percussive beat from Stuart Elliot.

Zakatek is back on vocals for “Step by Step”. It has a bit of Billy Joel feel to it, with synthesizers thrown in for good measure.

“Old and Wise”, the third and final single, only reached number 74 in the UK; in the US, the track went to number 21 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Colin Blunstone, the vocalist for the 60’s British rock band the Zombies, did the vocals on this reflective and regretful cut.

No doubt my favorite track on Eye in the Sky is the title track as it brings back a lot of memories from my final year of high school. I am sure a number of the other tracks likely got play on the album-oriented rock station that I occasionally listened to, but my teenaged self would not have appreciated the rich compositions as much as I do today as an adult. This is one of those records you listen to when you’re in a more mellow, reflective sort of mood.

No comments: