One of the essential trig points when it comes to mapping the rapidly expanding prog empire in the mid-70s, Tales Of Mystery And Imagination broke new ground as a studio-created concept by Alan Parsons, who’d earned his spurs working on The Dark Side Of The Moon.
Rather than basing the tracks on the Poe stories, Parsons reimagines them in his own classical-rock style and deliberately avoids the gothic clichés that would have turned it into a Hammer horror soundtrack. Instead, he focuses on the sense of confinement that pervades Poe’s tales and crafts his own atmosphere.
He starts with an introduction by Orson Welles, followed by a vocoded voice on The Raven, Arthur Brown wailing all over Tell Tale Heart and John Miles crooning soulfully on the McCartney-esque The Casket Of Amontillado. Then the orchestra takes over for some grandiose ruminations on The Fall Of The House Of Usher.
Parsons overhauled the album for CD in 1987 so why anyone would want on hear the original vinyl mix on the first of the three CDs is another mystery. Unless you prefer the half-speed-mastered 180-gram vinyl double album, that is. There’s also more than a CD’s worth of outtakes, isolated instrumental tracks, guide vocals and interviews for minutiae fans.