Tales Of Mystery And Imagination
The Alan Parsons Project
20th Century 508
Released: May 1976
Chart Peak: #38
Weeks Charted: 46
Tales of Mystery and Imagination undertakes the difficult task of transforming some of Edgar Allan Poe's writings into music. Alan Parsons, best known for engineering Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, conceptualized the project with Poe "appreciator" Eric Woolfson. Andrew Powell arranged and conducted the orchestra and choir that dominate the album and there are vocal appearances by John Miles, the Hollies' Terry Sylvester and Arthur Brown, among others.
Unfortunately, the tension and sense of impending, surreal terror that underscore most of Poe's work simply didn't get transferred into the musical interpretations. Arthur Brown's unique vocal ravings on "The Tell-Tale Heart" come closest because they supply the necessary dose of hysteria. The most ambitious track, "The Fall of the House of Usher," rises majestically with a Fantasia-like opening and a spectacular thunderstorm, then shifts into intermezzo and pavane passages that are quite moving. But the atonal, chaotic "fall" seems more an intrusion on the rest of the opus than the holocaustal finale it should have been.
- Billy Altman, Rolling Stone, 9-23-76.
- Billboard, 1976.
This "project," led by former Beatles engineer Alan Parsons, was recorded at Abbey Road and featured a session group including Terry Sylvester and Arthur Brown (he of the "Crazy World"). It made its first and best album (if not its most popular one) by interpreting the ominous poems and stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Heavy on synthesized keyboards and dramatic choral parts, it's rock soundtrack music minus the film. The group went on to make a series of similar followups, notably including I Robot and Eye in the Sky, but this is the place to start. * * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Of the Alan Parsons Project's individual efforts, Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe (1976) and Turn of a Friendly Card (1980) are the most thematically cohesive. * * *
- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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