On March 31, The Alan Parsons Project’s many tales of mystery and imagination will come to life anew on Arista Records and Legacy Recordings’ 11-CD box set The Alan Parsons Project - The Complete Albums Collection. This new set marks the first time that the Project’s complete discography has been assembled in one place, from 1976’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination to 1987's Gaudi. Sweetening the pot will be the first-ever release of the APP’s fifth album The Sicilian Defence.
The Complete Albums Collection follows the 2013 Legacy Edition reissue of I Robot, the APP’s 1977 sophomore effort and Arista debut. That album proved that high-concept, progressive art-rock could still impact the charts when it placed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200. Further triumphs were still to come for the studio group spearheaded by producer-engineer Alan Parsons (The Dark Side of the Moon) and songwriter-executive producer Eric Woolfson, especially 1982’s Eye in the Sky. The album shot to No. 7 on the Billboard 200, the APP’s first album since I Robot to crack the Top 10, and the Woolfson-written and –sung title track made it all the way to No. 3 on the Hot 100 and the Hot AC chart.
The Scottish band Pilot provided the Alan Parsons Project with its core musicians. Ian Bairnson (guitar) played on every APP album, David Paton (bass and vocals) appeared on all albums except the 1987 swansong Gaudi, and Stuart Tosh (drums) played on Tales of Mystery and Imagination and I Robot before joining 10cc and being replaced by Stuart Elliott of Cockney Rebel. Pilot’s Billy Lyall also played keyboards on those first two APP albums. It was a bit of reciprocity at work; Parsons had produced Pilot’s debut album including the hit single “Magic,” and produced two more albums for the band as well. Vocalists on the APP albums include Woolfson, Lesley Duncan (the contemporary standard “Love Song,” recorded by artists including Elton John, Dionne Warwick, and Neil Diamond), Clare Torry (The Dark Side of the Moon), Allan Clarke of The Hollies, Colin Blunstone of The Zombies, Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, Lenny Zakatek, John Miles and others.
The main attraction of the new box may be an album that nobody has ever heard. The Sicilian Defence was created by Parsons and Woolfson over a three-day session at France’s Bear Studios and delivered to Arista Records in March 1981 amid tense contract negotiations between the Project and Clive Davis’ Arista label. The title derived from the name of a series of opening chess moves, which was apt considering the circumstances surrounding it. Reportedly a dissonant, atonal collection that was far-removed from what Davis expected of the band, The Sicilian Defence was shelved. The Project remained on Arista through 1987’s Gaudi, its final release. (Parsons and Woolfson resumed their collaboration on the 1990 album Freudiana, the studio cast recording of a Woolfson-composed rock opera.) An edited version of "Elsie's Theme" from The Sicilan Defence was included as a bonus track on an expanded edition of the 1979 album Eve, but the full-length track and the album from which it was derived makes its first-ever appearance as part of this box set.
After the jump: what else can you expect from The Complete Albums Collection?
All of the albums in the box set are presented in their original track listings, with no additional bonus tracks. Alas, that means fans will have to hold onto Arista/Legacy’s past reissues along with Universal’s deluxe release of Tales of Mystery and Imagination. The masters used for The Alan Parsons Project - The Complete Albums Collection were overseen by Alan Parsons (likely for previous remastered editions, though that hasn’t yet been confirmed) and each of the albums is presented in facsimile vinyl replica wallet sleeves reminiscent of those used in Legacy’s similar complete box sets. A 28-page booklet includes notes by Parsons and numerous rare and previously unpublished photographs.
The futuristic sounds of The Alan Parsons Project can be yours to own in one place on March 31 from Arista and Legacy Recordings. You can order the new box set below!
Box set contains the following original albums:
- Tales of Mystery and Imagination (20th Century Records, 1976)
- I Robot (1977)
- Pyramid (1978)
- Eve (1979)
- The Turn of a Friendly Card (1980)
- The Sicilian Defence (1981, all tracks previously unreleased except edited version of “Elsie’s Theme” previously included on Eve, Arista/Legacy, 2008)
- Eye in the Sky (1982)
- Ammonia Avenue (1984)
- Vulture Culture (1984)
- Stereotomy (1985)
- Gaudi (1987)
All albums previously released on Arista Records except where indicated.