The Alan Parsons Project - Tales Of Mystery And Imagination reissue album review

Poe-faced prog

The Alan Parsons Project Tales Of Mystery And Imagination 40th Anniversary Edition album cover

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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.

Hugh Fielder

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.