Album review: THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT – The Turn Of A Friendly Card

THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT - The Turn Of A Friendly Card

Sony Music [Release date 06.11.15] Deluxe Anniversary Edition

Looking for the definite version of Alan Parson’s classic 1980 release?  Well, it gets the Deluxe Anniversary treatment in this expanded, re-mastered 2-CD edition.

Back in the day, Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson were ‘on fire’ and rattled off three unforgettable albums between 1972 and 1981.  I Robot (1977) has already had the ‘deluxe’ treatment, and Eye In The Sky (1982) a 25th anniversary release.

Pyramid (1978) and Eve (1979) weren’t bad, but in comparison were patchy, but right now it’s The Turn Of A Friendly Card – arguably the Project’s finest moment – that gets a fresh lick of paint.

But hold on.  Didn’t the whole Alan Parsons Project back catalogue get a sympathetic re-mastering in 2007 – 2008?  Yes, indeed it did, with the ‘bolt on’ of a handful of mildly interesting, but frankly unessential ‘work in progress’ out-takes.

So what does this Deluxe Anniversary set with its seductive plum coloured sleeve have to offer?  Frankly, very little.  Because look below the packaging and the carefully worded ‘re-mastered’ badging and you find that the first disc is none other than the 2007 release.  No tweaks, no additional material.  Nothing.

So what you’re forking out for is the 2nd disc which, fair do’s runs out at 20 tracks (17 previously unreleased) over 70 minutes, and a new 20 page booklet.

But there is, in fact, no ‘new material’.  The first eight tracks follow the album’s running order in the form of Eric Woolfson’s ‘Songwriting Diary’ versions.  These amount to no more than Eric’s ‘singing in the bath’ and ‘notes to self’, half-finished tunes and lyrics.  If it had been me, I would not have exposed them to the light of day.  One suspects that if Woolfson was still alive, they might have remained under wraps.

The ‘extra’ bonus tracks fare a little better but are themselves made up of various ‘cutting room floor’ scrapings featuring guide vocals, unused guitar lines and the like, amongst early reference and half-finished versions.  Frankly it’s a wonder anyone saw fit to keep them.  Also included, for completeness, are and the single edits of Games People Play, The Turn Of A Friendly Card, and Snakes Eyes.

If you haven’t got The Turn Of A Friendly Card in your collection, shame on you.  Go out and buy it.  But don’t be fooled by the ‘definitive’, ‘anniversary’ and ‘deluxe’ badging.  The 2007 re-master is the version to go for.

I struggle to ‘score’ this release.  The original album is an unquestionable *****.  The bonus tracks on the 2007 release brought nothing to the party, and the second disc here is no more compelling than an uninvited guest.  So I’m going to have to deduct a * for what would appear to be no more than cynical racketeering.  Buyers beware.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley

Album review (Boxed set, 2014)

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