The Alan Parsons Project – Eye In The Sky
Alan Parsons is one of those unsung heroes that a lot of people don’t really know about.
In 1968, a then 18-year-old Alan Parsons had his first engineering credit on “Abbey Road” from The Beatles. Proper sound engineers are responsible for the sound capture and there was no better at it, than Alan Parsons.
From there, he went on to work with Paul McCartney, The Hollies and his piece d’resitance was Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”. He was the engineer on “The Dark Side Of The Moon”. So the sounds you hear on that album, the sounds that went into 30 million houses around their world, owe a lot to Alan Parsons.
After the success of “The Dark Side Of The Moon”, Parson’s was offered the chance to work on “Wish You Were Here”, however he declined it because he wanted to get his own project going.
How many people today would decline an offer like that to follow a path that financially could be worse off, but creatively satisfying.
So The Alan Parsons Project was born with producer Eric Woolfson (RIP). Both of the guys met at Abbey Roads studio.
The studio sounds Parsons captured with the bands he engineered would end up on his project.
Which brings me to “Eye In The Sky”, his 1982 release. For a studio band, “Eye In The Sky” is their sixth album, which goes to show that there was a demand for their music. All up 10 Alan Parsons Project albums were released and achieved combined sales of more than 40m copies.
Eric Woolfson was also a successful rock musician, but no one knew of him. He wasn’t in the magazines or on MTV, but he had a very successful career compared to the MTV heroes of the 80’s. And for him, it all started off by doing session piano work in the 60’s which led to a song writing publishing contract which led to a production gig at Abbey Road Studios and so forth.
How cool is the Eye of Horus cover, which instantly brings back memories of “Powerslave” from Iron Maiden.
“Sirius” (Instrumental) leads into “Eye In The Sky”
If “Sirius” sounds familiar to sporting fans, well it should. It was used by the Chicago Bulls to introduce their team during the Michael Jordan era. Wikipedia also tells me that “Sirius” was used by the New Orleans Saints as their entrance music for Super Bowl XLIV. The Kansas City Chiefs also used it during kick-offs.
It then leads into “Eye In The Sky” which is the most well-known song from the album. Maybe you could call it a “hit” song without it being a hit on the charts, but a hit with listeners of the band. Eric Woolfson is doing lead vocals on it.
I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
“You’re Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned”
It has funk/soul/R&B singer Lenny Zakatek doing lead vocals. Zakatek was the lead singer with Gonzalez who had the worldwide disco hit, “I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet”. From 1974, he started to work with The Alan Parsons Project, a collaboration that would span 8 albums and 24 songs.
If I’m wrong and you are right
Then I will light your darkness with confusion
It has Elmer Gantry on vocals or otherwise known as Dave Terry. I remember reading a story about a group of musicians who got hired by Fleetwood Mac’s manager to impersonate Fleetwood Mac for a U.S. tour in the Seventies. Well, Dave Terry was one of the members. When the ruse failed, front man Dave Terry and guitarist Graham “Kirby” Gregory formed Stretch and had a hit song with the Kirby penned, “Why Did You Do That Thing?”
But I don’t care, it’s all psychobabble rap to me
Is typical of the Pink Floyd like instrumentals Parsons and Woolfson create. I love it.
“Old and Wise”
It has Colin Bunstone on vocals. Remember the song “She’s Not There” from the Sixties by the rock band The Zombies. If you do, that’s Colin Bunstone on vocals. One of many singles and projects he was involved in.
And, oh, when I’m old and wise
Bitter words mean little to me
Damn right. As you get older, you realise that you are not immortal and suddenly “the end” means more than all of those other wrongs you have suffered. You get a different perspective.
Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
It’s a pretty bleak folk record. Springsteen recorded it at his home in Colts Neck, New Jersey. There was no E-Street Band. It was him and a four-track PortaStudio tape recorder.
“Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact,”
That lyric from “Atlantic City,” defines the tone of the album. The character in the song went from having a job and trying to save, to withdrawing everything he had, hitting the road to Atlantic City and then when he was low on cash he agreed to do a little favour for a friend.
Well, I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay
So I drew what I had from the Central Trust
And I bought us two tickets on that Coast City bus
Now I been looking for a job but it’s hard to find
Down here, it’s just winners and losers and don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line
Well, I’m tired of coming out on this losing end
So, honey, last night I met this guy and I’m gonna do a little favour for him
And the whole album is littered with characters that did what they needed to do to survive and take care of their families. Like “Johnny 99” and the “Highway Patrolman”.
Now judge, judge, I got debts no honest man could pay
The bank was holding’ my mortgage and taking’ my house away
Now I ain’t saying’ that make me an innocent man
But it was more’n all this that put that gun in my hand
There it is again, “I got debts no honest mane could pay line”. It was Johnny 99’s answer back to the judge as to why he did what he did.
“I always done an honest job as honest as I could
But when it’s your brother, sometimes you look the other way”
“Mansion On The Hill” is the same as “Nebraska”.
There’s a place out on the edge of town, sir
Rising above the factories and the fields
Now, ever since I was a child I can remember
That mansion on the hill
There are winners and losers in life and then there are people just content with life. But the ones not content with life, want to be like those people living in the mansion on the hill.
Now, the neighbours come from near and far
As we pull up in our brand new used car
It’s a brilliant lyric of the times and how that used car was cherished like it was brand new. You had to have lived that time to understand it.
“Reason To Believe”.
Still at the end of every hard-earned day people find some reason to believe
There it is, the glimmer of hope on a bleak album. Because regardless of the situation, we still find some reason to believe in the next day and in the future.
The next two entries in my 1982 list are songs.
Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes – “Up Where We Belong”
It’s 1982 and Joe Cocker re-enters the public conversation. No one could escape “Up Where We Belong” a duet with Jennifer Warnes and the theme song to the Richard Gere/Debra Winger movie “An Officer And A Gentleman.”
As with all things Joe, it was a song written by a who’s who of writers, Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings. An original this time around, instead of a cover.
Some hang on to “used to be”
Live their lives looking behind
All we have is here and now
All our life, out there to find
Brilliant lyrics in the second verse. Even rock heads and metal heads couldn’t escape the song. I am also pretty sure that some power metal band covered it in the Nineties. It was one of those songs.
Moving Pictures – What About Me
The “Days of Innocence” was released in 1981 in Australia and 1982 in the U.S. I still haven’t heard the album it was on but I know the song well. It was released as a single in January 1982 in Australia and September 1982 in the U.S. Talk about windowing releases.
It was the second biggest single in Australia behind Survivors “Eye Of The Tiger”. It’s written by guitarist Garry Frost and Frances Swan Frost and like all hit songs from the past, it wasn’t even planned for the album.
I guess I’m lucky, I smile a lot
But sometimes I wish for more, than I’ve got…
There it is again, the wish for more. Stay tuned for Part 8. I never envisaged that my homage to 1982 would take so many iterations.