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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Alan Parsons

The Secret

Review by Larry Toering

The Secret by Alan Parsons is an album you don’t want to pass up, as it has everything there is to be expected by any fan and more. The slower Alan Parsons albums aren’t for everyone, but there is no denying their awesomeness, and this one falls under that lighter AOR/prog tag, along with well known albums like Eye In The Sky. If that is your Alan Parsons, then you will love this new release. It centers around one of Parsons’ favorite things, namely magic, which it conveys both musically and lyrically. This album contains many guest appearances, including Lou Gramm and guitarists like Steve Hackett. I’m glad I gave this album enough listens to appreciate it, and it comes highly recommended, as usual for this world class artist.

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Track by Track Review
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The disc gets underway in typical show-Parsons fashion, but the overall result is nevertheless, fascinating via the standard which is brought to every release, whether it be of the heavier or softer variety.  There’s "majesty" written all over this like some kind-of adventure, but the whole  album sort of conceptually plays out like that. This is an amazing instrumental to say the least, with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett making an appearance.

This will remind listeners of classic Alan Parsons, as the vocals completely make it one not that different from Eye In The Sky and others. This immediately satisfies that appetite for what Parsons has always been about. I’d put this up there with their best works. It not only includes great vocals (by Jason Mraz who does a very commendable job), but it also has great guitar and saxophone (Todd Cooper).
As Lights Fall
I’m glad to say the vocal standard is kept up at the same level as the previous track. It pretty much seals the Parsons brand with Parsons taking the vocals like a maestro. There’s a promo video for this track with some delightful scenery and cool APP albums shown in a treasure chest. The melody is soft but very strong, and the whole track is probably one of the best on the disc, right up there with the first song.
One-Note Symphony
This is a little more along the lines of what anyone would expect from a Parsons record. As much as it follows the usual standard (it’s more or less the most predictable track because of that), it also contains an interesting break which includes some spoken word by vocalist Todd Cooper. There’s sort of a doomsday approach on this very prog track.
One of the featured tracks on this disc, this includes former Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm, and boy does it deliver. This is up there with the three best tracks and should get some airplay if you ask me. It’s very well done by any standard, with Gramm nailing an amazing studio performance.
Soirée Fantastique
The ballad factor kicks in on this with a very different approach than heard thus far in the track list. This features vocals by both Alan Parsons and Todd Cooper, coming off remarkably hypnotic.
Fly To Me
Lead vocalist Mark Mikel appears here for the only time on the disc, putting in a good contribution to a more or less Beatles-style track.  This falls short of standing out until some fine guitar work helps save it and turn it into a more serious piece after starting out more playful. It’s all about magic.
This is one of the lesser inspired vocals to me, with Todd Cooper putting in another voice contribution.  Still, it contains some excellent guitar work so not all is lost, nor does it veer any from the concept. The finger snaps and saxophone by Cooper help make it all it can be on this overall decent number. It’s just a little big band and jazz-singer oriented.
Beyond The Years Of Glory
This is another of the more compelling tracks, done in narrative style. PJ Olson puts in an extraordinary vocal on this, and once again helps the fans like this album because of the carefully chosen singers to accompany Alan Parsons. More-great saxophone and guitar also makes this track in every way. This is simply fantastic.
The Limelight Fades Away
You start to feel the album closing here, and that’s not such a bad thing because by now, if you follow the lyrics, you’re already more than satisfied by the amount of great stuff here. There isn’t a whole lot to write home about on this one, other than it fits right into the script with the others. That said, singer Jordan Huffman is another finely selected voice for this album, and some more great guitars do the business.
I Can’t Get There From Here
This number is featured in the motion picture 5-27-77 with lead vocals by Jared Mahone.  He does a seamless job like all the singers before him on this relatively standard addition to the catalog. It takes out a great album with another great voice, and you just can’t top that achievement.
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