The Alan Parsons Project: The Turn of a Friendly Card (1980)
The Alan Parsons Project’s ‘70s albums all had great moments and, when they weren’t being unfairly vilified as “Pink Floyd light” or worse (usually by the vociferous, Punk-biased British rock media), they scored plenty of style points amongst open minded progressive rock fans.
But I believe it was the studio-confined ensemble’s fifth (and first after a lucrative contract renegotiation *), The Turn of a Friendly Card, that ultimately became the prototypical A.P.P. LP – complete with dramatic synthesizer introductions for smooth, classy pop rock (“May Be a Price to Pay”), punchy chart singles (“Games People Play” – No. 16 in the U.S.), ethereal post-prog ballads (“Time,” which went one better at No. 15), and atmospheric, even finger-snapping instrumentals (“The Gold Bug”).
All of these styles were just as seamlessly aligned on Side B’s sixteen-minute titular suite, highlighted by the thought-provoking main theme’s cautionary bookends, another memorable instrumental in “The Ace of Swords” and an initially gentle, later hard rocking “Nothing Left to Lose” – one of many songs crooned by the Alan Parsons Project’s “silent” but very equal creative partner, Eric Woolfson, who left us in 2009.
As did, almost exactly one year ago, another frequent A.P.P. lead vocal regular, Chris Rainbow; and still, this peculiar collection of nerd rockers and hired guns continues to resonate today with non-judgmental lovers of meticulously crafted songs, no matter the genre.
* After lengthy and heated proceedings with Arista Records, Parsons and Woolfson allegedly delivered an all-instrumental album named “The Sicilian Defence” (named after a famously aggressive chess move) that would have fulfilled their contract and, thus, forced Arista to capitulate to their demands.