The prog icon returns to classic sound on The Secret
Artist: Alan Parsons
Album: The Secret
Label: Frontiers Music SRL
★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Legendary British prog rock icon Alan Parsons just released his new solo album, The Secret, his first since 2004’s A Valid Path.
The versatile musician, engineer, producer and avocado farmer has enjoyed a thrilling half-century musical career, including his first job in 1969 as an assistant engineer on the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let it Be sessions. Better yet, Parsons was one of the lucky ones who were allowed on the Apple Studios’ building rooftop for the recording of the Beatles’ last live performance together.
“That was a great day,” Parsons told the Sheboygan Press in 2016. “I had been assigned by Abbey Road Studios to work on the Let it Be sessions on the rooftop of the Apple Building. I was so pleased to be up there. It was the first time the Beatles had played together live for a very long time, and I think everybody had the inkling that it would be the last time.”
From the Fab Four, to his role in the studio for Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother and The Dark Side Of The Moon, to his own Alan Parsons Project and finally his current solo career, Parsons has achieved many accolades.
On The Secret, Parsons has recruited an arsenal of top-notch guest performers including Steve Hackett, Vinnie Colaiuta and Lou Gramm, along with Parsons’ current live band of vocalist P.J. Olsson, keyboardist Tom Brooks, bassist Guy Erez, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Kollman, drummer Danny Thompson, saxophonist/percussionist/vocalist Todd Cooper and guitarist/vocalist Dan Tracey.
Across 11 progtastic tracks, Parsons creates symphonic and progressive rock compositions that his former band Alan Parsons Project was known for in its heyday. Instrumental opener, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” begins with a grandiose orchestral arrangement by Tom Brooks, with Hackett’s galloping guitar cadences leading the charge. The five-plus minute composition is a unique cross between Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother and Jesus Christ Superstar.
“Miracle” contains that trademark Parsons soft keyboard/guitar melody tandem with emotive vocals performed by prolific singer/song-writer Jason Mraz. Possessing a familiar tone, this track wouldn’t have been out of place on Eye In The Sky.
When Parsons takes over lead vocals on “As Lights Fall,” his charming voice suits his reflective lyrics, while “One Note Symphony” possesses Beatles-esque melodies, combined with grandiose orchestral accents and the melodious vibrato vocals by Todd Cooper, who also appears again on a duet with Parsons on “Soirée Fantastique” and the swinging, jazz-laden “Requiem.”
Former Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm appears on emotive and soulful ballad “Sometimes.” Although Gramm’s vocals are rather dynamic here, his range is nothing like it was back in his heyday with Foreigner. Rounding out the back half of the record is the uplifting “Soirée Fantastique,” the surreal “Fly To Me,” the jazzy “Requiem,” the emotive “Beyond The Years Of Glory” and the AOR-ish “The Limelight Fades Away.”
Album closer “I Can’t Get There From Here,” is featured in 2017’s coming of age motion picture 5-25-77, with the original score by Parsons and David E. Russo. The poppy vocals of Jared Mahone and the catchy chorus accompanies the movie soundtrack perfectly. Fans of any previous Alan Parsons material will gleefully eat The Secret up, as it’s everything you’d ever want in a release from this living legend of prog.