THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT – The Sicilian Defence (2014)
The THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT released 10 albums between 1976 and 1987, but it also recorded (never released) “The Sicilian Defence” in 1981. For the first time ever, all 11 albums have been collected together in box set form as ‘The Complete Albums Collection’.
Alan Parsons was 19 years old when he earned his first album credit, as assistant engineer on The Beatles’ Abbey Road, and he later engineered Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. His involvement with these two albums alone would have insured Parsons’ name in rock history, but these achievements were only the beginning.
In one of the most successful transitions ever, Parsons stepped out of the control room to lead his own group, The Alan Parsons Project. A time when the producer as artist was a novel idea.
“I suppose some of Phil Spector’s work could be considered as producer’s albums, but I don’t think any producer had ever put his own name on a concept album, and that’s what we wanted to do,” Parsons recalls. “We wanted to take the fashionability of making concept albums back in the mid-70s and take it to the production level rather than to the artist level and use an infinitely variable set of assets.
We could use any rhythm section we wanted to, any instrumentalists we wanted to. We chose to have a large variety of vocal talent on the albums. No two consecutive songs ever had the same singer; that’s something no artist could ever wish for.”
The core of The Alan Parsons Project was Parsons and his partner Eric Woolfson (1945-2009), and the two were a virtual hit factory with such favorites as “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” “What Goes Up,” “Damned If I Do,” and “Eye in the Sky” lighting up the radio dial during the late ’70s and early ’80s.
All the ‘Project’ 10 albums (Alan Parsons continued later as solo artist) are being reissued in this ‘The Complete Albums Collection’ box set remastered and featuring original artwork.
“The Sicilian Defence” is the ringer of this set, and it has a fascinating history. Back in 1981, the Alan Parsons Project and Arista Records were locked in tense contract negotiations that weren’t going anywhere – at least to the liking of Parsons and Woolfson. That gave birth to “The Sicilian Defence,” a not-so-subtly titled kiss-off album designed to fulfill contractual obligations and subsequently shelved when the two parties came to terms.
But, adds Parsons – who was ‘blissfully absent’ from the negotiations with the label, letting Woolfson handle things – “The Sicilian Defence” wasn’t merely a musical middle finger to Arista, either. “We just wanted to get it done,” he explains. “It was made in a hurry. It took three days, and that was a very small amount of time compared with the sometimes three or four months we might have spent making a proper album.
‘The Sicilian Defense’ is the title of a tactical move in the game of chess, but there was a real game of tactics going on in a very real sense with Eric and the label. It’s an interesting piece of history.”
Meanwhile, the album was shelved indefinitely, which instantly made it the most sought-after The Alan Parsons Project recording of all time.
Although a must for fans like me, musically, “The Sicilian Defence” is far from APP standards. It’s mostly a keyboard and piano work by Woolfson that came out as ideas most than final songs. In and of itself, it’s a curious little album – mostly synthesized and definitely un-Project-like, but I’ve heard far worse albums hacked out to fulfil a contract.
Talking about ‘The Complete Albums Collection’ it’s a box set that ticks all the essential boxes; all remastered material, original vinyl replica sleeves, nice booklet with rare photos and full credits, etc. If you’re relatively new to the music of The Alan Parsons Project, or you’ve got worn vinyl to replace, it’s an ideal way of getting everything in one fell swoop.
It is the opportunity as well to finally hear “The Sicilian Defence”, although collectors may want to wait and see whether it gets a separate release in the future.
01 – P-K4
02 – P-Qb4
03 – Kt-KB3
04 – …Kt-QB3
05 – P-Q4
06 – PxP
07 – KtxP
08 – Kt-B3
09 – Kt-QB3
10 – P-Q3
BUY IT !