A recording engineer for the Beatles in 1968 at Abbey Road, working on “Let It Be” at the crisp, tender age of eighteen, British-born Alan Parsons etched a career in sound and imagery far ahead of where his next paycheck was coming from.
Now 61 and touring with the instantly recognizable Alan Parsons Project, Mr. Parsons has evolved from engineer, control room master-mind, to composer, and belatedly to live stage performer. His unique genre of music is a perfect blend of popular, soulful, ethereal sounds with a good dose of driving rhythms and well-crafted compositions pleasing to all who listen. What is truly amazing about Mr. Parsons is how he has not only created the songs, but that even from the back of the stage and behind his bandmates he quietly orchestrates the performances in such a subtle way as to render himself invisible to all but the music. Each of the members of the Project is quite talented in their own right, but make no mistake, Alan Parsons is musical director behind this group.
With his bandmates, the ‘Eye In The Sky’ genius hit the boards at Ram’s Head Tavern recently, playing the last stateside show before embarking on a tour of Germany.
“We’re pleased to announce all of our CD’s are being re-mastered and re-issued…for far greater sound…and you can buy them all over again,” Parsons announced from the small stage at the intimate venue in Maryland’s capitol. He seemed almost embarrassed to be hawking his own material, but when the music was playing the pride of creation shown through.
The six-piece band played non-stop for 90 minutes to sold out shows, both on Sunday. Such gems as “Time”, “I Robot”, “Eye In The Sky” and “Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You” totally mesmerized the audience on hand.
The lead guitarist, playing a locally manufactured Paul Reed Smith guitar had only recently ordered some strings from the local company, and from the playing and rip-roaring riffs he pulled off, no wonder extra strings must be kept on hand.
“Who knows if we’ll ever meet again…if ever…”
The familiar tunes wowed the fans and some not so familiar were greeted with enthusiasm and wild applause. Song after song, it was readily apparent that this was a well organized unit of musicians, each complementing the other with rhythms, bass runs, lead work on guitar and keyboards that all seemed to flow into one sound. Different from almost any other band you might hear live, there was no flashy stage presence or showboating by any one player. In fact, through the course of the evening each member of the group took a turn at singing a lead vocal…and all were good. Always in the mix, although not in the spotlight, Alan Parsons played acoustic guitar and sang harmony and backup vocals throughout the night. Given that these songs were his own creation, the selfless love of music showed majestically that he would prefer to let the songs speak for themselves. An honorable approach for such a prodigious talent.
The bartender at a nearby pub commented that Alan Parsons usually stays at his house in Annapolis whenever he plays at the Ram’s Head…and here was the bar-keep, tending bar, and serving me a soft-shell crab sandwich, while the star was finishing a last cup of coffee and being driven into the venue.
A cult following for sure…and the never ending touring of a genius of sound…behind the Beatles, and of course Pink Floyd for many years….the Alan Parsons Project is well worth the listen…again.