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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Alan Parsons

Project – The Turn Of A Friendly Card

Review by Larry Toering

When this great album was released, I remember very well thinking how it would last, but that was a few years before I started to appreciate APP more and more, eventually falling in love with most of their songs. While I'm not their biggest fan, I'm certainly not their least devoted by any means, and this qualifies as one of their best releases to my ears. There is not one bad moment on this disc.. It's an AOR/prog delight that somehow never gets old. There have been re-issues worth mentioning as well, especially the DTS surround version which is absolutely cosmic by comparison the first time one hears it, but not as essential somehow if you don't have the original stereo version. But it's recommended anyway, for a more clarified sound and the odd variances it contains from the original master. I recommend either version but it's best to have both in order to get the best out of this title. However, owning various versions aren't for everyone's budget, nor everyone's cup of tea, so this is a review of the original formatted release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
May Be A Price To Pay

While the opening number could be more exciting, looking back it's still another APP standard by all means, as a lot of tracks they went on to do were in this same vein. This is as enjoyable as much as anything like it they've subsequently recorded, and I have to say I have grown very fond of it.

Games People Play

This has to be one of APP's most well known and well received number by the masses, as it still gets plenty of  rotation on more than one format of radio station in the US. Once this track took off it helped define the sound and approach to come for them. You either love this or hate it, and I have been of the former opinion since it arrived. All of the elements that make up their catalog can be found on this stellar track with some cool guitar work to help its edge along.

Time

If ":Games People Play" is their most well known, this excellent tune has to settle for being one of their best. It's just so mellow and smooth that once you get it inside your head it has a tendency to stay there until you kick it out of your mind. This is one of those songs of theirs I never tire of, in fact I've even heard it in my sleep. Yes, it's that catchy. I rate this one up there with tracks on albums like I Robot and Eye In The Sky. It's what I would call simply perfect.

I Don't Want To Go Home

To get musically descriptive, this starts with that familiar piano and goes into a typical AOR style, even reminiscent at times of their first hit "Doctor Tar and Professor Feather." This is definitely a good track, and it contains some more tasty guitar work, and a very infectious vocal melody.

The Gold Bug

This starts with a quiet forty second intro, and then it turns into an amazing tune with that same mellow vibe they're famous for. No vocals are featured until the end, and they're just in the background. So, basically there are no lead vocals going on here.

The Turn Of A Friendly Card Pt..1

The concept goes into full prog mode starting with this part, and it's either where the listener gets off, or is just getting started, depending on how interested in concepts one is. The vocals are the undeniable feature here, and it ends with a crashing gong that really gets the ears’ attention. This title track has three subsequent parts before the actual second part takes things out, they are as follows:

Snake Eyes

This is yet another one of my favorite APP tunes, as it, too, has a bit of that left over flavor from the previously mentioned “Doctor Tar And Professor Feather” and, just as good as “I Don't Want To Go Home,” I have always had a soft spot for this one.

The Ace Of Swords

Things get acoustic and slightly orchestrated on this part of part one of the title track, and there are even some nice horns to go along with that lovely piano on this instrumental. A crash of the cymbals here and there keep it interesting before it comes to an abrupt end.

Nothing Left To Lose

Some great dual vocals come back on the scene here, as the concept thickens and heads into the final chapter on this extremely well written, produced and arranged recording. “Nothing ventured and nothing gained” is the message. Toward the end it goes back into the melody for “Snake Eyes” just to remind the listener of the concept before making the way into some more excellent guitar work. This is yet another pleasantly mellow cut.

The Turn Of A Friendly Card Pt..2

Things end in traditional fashion with a more subtle vocal approach of the repeated verse and title, but then it turns into a guitar and horn piece to top the entire disc off with pure quality music.

 

 
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