Record #8: The Alan Parsons Project – The Eye In The Sky (1982)

And now we come to the final Alan Parsons Project record in my collection.

According to Wikipedia, this is the best selling of the project’s albums, and the sound makes that easy to hear.

As with The Turn of a Friendly Card, it’s centered around a more mainstream pop-rock sound than earlier works, but some of the more prog-rock elements return in more force than on Turn, such as long BGV-sung chords that don’t follow the chordal structure of the juxtaposing music, and delay-heavy rhythm guitars, showcased most heavily on the opening instrumental “Sirius” (aka The Chicago Bulls Intro Song).

While the songwriting fails to reach the same monumental highs as I Robot, the return to the brave production style that was missing on Turn makes this record sound like a bit of a comeback. And while Turn didn’t stray very far outside of mainstream pop, Eye in the Sky once again reaches into the fringes and brings touches of baroque, as well as varied instrumentation between songs (something else Turn lacked), and unexpected musical turns in the middle of songs (see the seven-minute “Silence and I”).

However, at its core, The Eye in the Sky is a pop record, and while it has some great songs, it doesn’t have the same ambitious streak as the Alan Parsons Project’s first real masterpiece. According to the Wikipedia page, “avant-garde” is used to describe an artist “that considers itself innovative and ahead of the majority,” and while I Robot definitely sounded like a group that was running miles ahead of the pack, The Eye In The Sky sounds more like the lead runner had grown content to jog with its contemporaries and sprint ahead at times, only to slow down and rejoin the crowd. Overall, it’s a fun and interesting listen, but not much more than that.

Upon completing the Alan Parsons Project section of my collection, it’s clear that I Robot will forever be my lens through which to view the rest of his discography. Its ambition and ability to mix pop songs with true musical exploration make it a paragon of prog-rock success that overshadows the albums that followed. In context, I think it was the repeated attempts to remake this masterpiece that leaves me unimpressed and disinterested.

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