Alan Parsons: New World Man

Realistic tales of the past, present and future with the English prog rock legend

Alan Parsons (Image: Frontiers Music SRL)

The past six months have been especially busy for Alan Parsons.

In that time, the revered musician / producer / engineer released two live albums: The Neverending Show: Live in the Netherlands last November, and then One Note Symphony: Live in Tel Aviv in February. This summer, his prolific streak continues with a highly anticipated new studio album, From the New World, which is set for release on July 15.

From the New World is, Parsons explains, a particularly significant title for him, chosen based on several factors.

“The main reason is that the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák wrote a symphony while living in America called From the New World,” he says, calling from his California home. “Most people know it as the New World Symphony. It is, without a doubt, his most popular work. I grew up with it. It was always being played in my household; my dad played classical music at home. It’s always been a dream of mine to re-record that work as a rock piece. We’ve only made a start on this album, which is the track ‘Going Home,’ which is based on the slow movement of that piece.” 

Alan Parsons From The New World, Frontiers Music SRL 2022

Another significant reason for naming this album From the New World, Parsons says, is “because everybody’s living in a new world with the pandemic in their lives. Third reason: my band is all American. And lastly, the fact that I’ve been living in America for 22 years now.”

Besides his own backing band, From the New World also features several notable guest musicians, including Styx vocalist Tommy Shaw, virtuoso guitarist Joe Bonamassa and Ambrosia singer David Pack. 

Yet no matter who’s working with Parsons, though, his own distinctive atmospheric rock style always comes through – but even Parsons himself can’t explain how this happens.

“It’s a complete mystery to me how people seem to think that I have a sound,” he says. “I just work on instincts. It’s uncanny how people can be listening to a song that I produced or worked on, and they say, ‘That’s Alan Parsons.’ I’m baffled by that. I don’t set out to make myself sound like myself.”

Even if Parsons can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about his work that makes it so memorable, it’s clear that he’s always had a knack for doing so. Born and raised in London, he began playing guitar for various bands at a young age before leaving school at sixteen years old to pursue a professional music career. He was still a teenager when his skill and confidence paid off.

“I got a job at Abbey Road Studio in 1968,” Parsons says. “That led to working with The Beatles, working with Pink Floyd, working with countless other artists on EMI’s label.” While employed at that famed recording studio, Parsons worked on three of the most acclaimed rock albums of all time: The Beatles’ Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970), and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (1973).

Though he clearly could’ve continued his highly successful recording studio career, Parsons went on to form The Alan Parsons Project in 1975. He credits singer/lyricist Eric Woolfson, the other half of the duo, for being “the main mover and shaker” in instigating this career shift. It turned out to be a good move: their international hits include “Games People Play,” “Time,” “Eye in the Sky,” and “Don’t Answer Me,” among many others.

Since the Alan Parsons Project disbanded in 1990, Parsons has moved on as a successful solo artist. In this latest phase of his career, From the New World marks his sixth studio album so far. He’s also toured extensively across the world, an elaborate experience that is well documented in both of his recently-released live albums.

In recognition of Parsons’ entire body of work, he was awarded the highly prestigious OBE (Order of the British Empire) at the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2021, thus securing his status as one of the most notable musical artists of the past fifty years.

Even with all of those achievements, Parsons isn’t content to rest on his hard-earned reputation. In fact, he remains as motivated to create as ever.

“I’m very comfortable now working on my own material and occasional production,” he says. “I recently completed an album with Franklin Vanderbilt, who is Lenny Kravitz’s drummer, he’s made a solo album.” Still, he admits, “There’s not enough hours in the day to do everything you get offered.”

 

VIDEO: Alan Parsons Project “Eye In The Sky”

There are also other limiting factors lately: “I’m getting on in years – I’m 73 now,” Parsons says, “but I’m still pretty energetic, as far as making music is concerned. Having said that, I’ve developed a very nasty spinal stenosis issue, which requires surgery, so I unfortunately had to postpone the upcoming [tour] in Europe that was due to start about ten days from now. I was heartbroken about that, but I’m very confident I’ll be fine: I’ve got a good orthopedic doctor who’s going to take care of it.” His surgery, he says, is set for just a few days after this interview.

When Parsons is able to get back out on the road – which he expects to do again toward the end of this year – he promises that fans will be pleased.

“I’m fine playing the catalog,” he proclaims. “That’s what people want – they want to hear the hits. [And] we’ll definitely be playing some songs from the new album. I’m looking forward to seeing what the reaction is like!”

 

VIDEO: Alan Parsons feat. Tommy Shaw “Uroboros”

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Katherine Yeske Taylor

Katherine Yeske Taylor began her rock critic career in Atlanta in the late '80s, when she interviewed Georgia musical royalty such as the Indigo Girls, R.E.M. and the Black Crowes while she was still a teenager. Since then, she has done hundreds of interviews with a wide range of artists. She has written for dozens of magazines, including The Big Takeover, Aquarian Weekly, Stomp & Stammer, Creative Loafing, Jam Magazine, Color Red, Boston Rock, and many others. She contributed to two books (several entries for The Trouser Press Guide to the '90s, and a chapter for Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-A-Rama). Additionally, she has written liner notes and artist bios for several major acts. She currently lives in New York City.  

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