This expanded, two- disc edition shines the spotlight on one of The Alan Parsons Project’s finest albums, but you have to wonder if, in adding demos and embryonic recordings of some of the brilliant songs therein, some of the brilliance of the original has become a little tainted.
Some 35 years after its initial release, The Turn Of A Friendly Card holds up magnificently. Driven by the Project’s typical, low-key virtuosity, the five-part title track is subtle and sublime, and the likes of Games People Play and Time are lovingly balanced between pop and prog; you can readily understand why they were hit singles. The first disc of the two here is also filled with interesting variations and early versions of the tracks that we know so well. Some of these extras do add to the story. There are three takes on Nothing Left To Lose, which help to build a fresh insight into the recording (the isolated Chris Rainbow vocal recording is outstanding). The early attempt at Time is instructive, while a rough mix of Games People Play has perhaps a little more humanity to it. But it’s when you drill down into the second CD that you start to question the wisdom of releasing almost anything appertaining to a classic album, simply because it happens to be in the vault. A lot of the versions here are what have been termed ‘Eric’s Songwriting Diary’, being very early versions of tracks with Woolfson singing at a piano, as he sits down to work out the rudiments of the compositions. While each of these is given a scant paragraph in the slim booklet to provide some context, surely a commentary from Parsons himself would’ve given this more authority. As it stands, it’s like you’re peaking in on a conjuror as he falteringly begins to create a new trick: some of the gloss is removed from the magic. There are also different versions of The Ace Of Swords and Snake Eyes, plus single edits for three tracks. But will anyone bother to play this CD more than once? Maybe not. And yet, all these adornments asides, the original album (remastered) remains the real deal.