The Glorious Corner: Alan Parsons, Al Stewart, Ricki Lee Jones and More

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Alan Parsons
By G.H. Harding

PARSONS RETURNS — “Miracle,” a new song from Alan Parsons, was released on Monday. The track is taken from Alan’s upcoming studio album, “The Secret”, on April 26 via Frontiers Music Srl.

Alan and Frontiers’ relationship began in 2010 when the label released Eye 2 Eye – Live in Madrid. They have kept in close contact since, with the ultimate goal to release another album together. Alan wanted it to be a really special album and only recently had the right plans and ideas fall into place where he felt ready to enter the studio to record what he had in mind.

“The writing and recording sessions are going incredibly well,” says Alan. “The album already has a working title, which is The Secret, and it will include musical and lyrical themes that are very close to my heart and my own interests and passions. I do not really want to reveal a lot about it, except that for the moment everything that surrounds The Secret is going to be just that… a secret!”

The overall musical approach of the album is expected to be in keeping with the symphonic rock that Parsons explored on his earlier solo records and the Projectalbums. But, of course, there will be new twists and turns and robust new creative inspiration behind the album. 

Some special guests will be on the album, but those will be revealed later… again, in keeping with the working title of the album, The Secret.

The Secret

Frontiers president Serafino Perugino commented: “This is pretty much a dream come true for me. For Frontiers being able to represent the artistry and the talent of such a huge artist is a magnificent opportunity. We look forward to this release as much as Alan’s fans and it will see the light of day in multiple exciting formats. Stay tuned!”

Parsons said: “I wish to thank Serafino and the team for the commitment and the patience to make this happen. To the fans… we’ll see you soon on a world tour!”

The track listing for the disc is as follows:

1. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (instrumental) 

2. Miracle (lead vocal: Jason Mraz) 

3. As Lights Fall (lead vocal: Alan Parsons) 

4. One Note Symphony (lead vocal: Todd Cooper) 

5. Sometimes (lead vocal: Lou Gramm) 

6. Soirée Fantastique (lead vocal: Todd Cooper, Alan Parsons) 

7. Fly To Me (lead vocal: Mark Mikel) 

8. Requiem (lead vocal: Todd Cooper) 

9. Years Of Glory (lead vocal: PJ Olsson) 

10. The Limelight Fades Away (lead vocal: Jordan Huffman) 

11. I Can’t Get There From Here (lead vocal: Jared Mahone)

Parsons’s music career started at 19 when he earned one of his first credits as assistant engineer on The Beatles’ Abbey Road, an album recorded in the legendary London studios of the same name. He soon became a well-respected studio engineer, working for Paul McCartney, The Hollies, and many others. He is particularly renowned for his work as recording engineer on the Pink Floyd masterpiece The Dark Side of The Moon. This classic album was recorded in 1972 and Parsons experimented with many of the most advanced recording techniques of the time. As a producer, he enjoyed many successes with Pilot, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, John Miles and Al Stewart’s masterpiece from 1976 Year Of The Cat.

Al Stewart

In 1975, Alan Parsons formed The Alan Parsons Project along with principal songwriter (and occasional singer) Eric Woolfson. The Project consisted of a group of studio musicians and vocalists, often involving the members of three bands Alan produced: PILOT (Ian Bairnson, Stuart Tosh and David Paton),Cockney Rebel’s Stuart Elliott on drums, and (on the first album) American progressive pop/rock band Ambrosia.

The Alan Parsons Project released ten acclaimed studio albums, but never performed live during the heyday of the albums, even after several U.S. and European Top 20 hits. The Project made its final album at the end of the 80’s with the album Gaudi. Since then, Alan has released a number of recordings under his own name using several musicians that also appeared on the Project releases.

As well as receiving gold and platinum awards from countless countries, Parsons has received eleven Grammy Award nominations for his engineering and production work. In 2007, he was nominated for Best Surround Sound Album for his studio album A Valid Path.

In 1994, Alan Parsons started touring regularly as The Alan Parsons Live Project and has released a number of live releases in audio and video. His live concerts continue to this day.

“Miracle,” featuring Mraz, is another classic Parsons-work. Here’s the 

link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjMaIiSaNWM 

Rickie Lee Jones

RICKI LEE JONES — Ricki Lee Jones’ “Chuck E’s in Love” and “We Belong Together” are just two classic tracks from Jones that went over like wildfire at her show at Sony Hall last week.

Her first album, Rickie Lee Jones was released in March 1979 and became a hit, buoyed by the success of the jazz-flavored single “Chuck E.’s In Love”, which hit No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and featured an accompanying music video. The album, which included guest appearances by Dr. John, Randy Newman, and Michael McDonald, went to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and produced another Top 40 hit with “Young Blood” (No. 40) in late 1979.

Her appearance – as an unknown (one month after her debut record had been released) – on Saturday Night Live on April 7, 1979, sparked an overnight sensation. She performed “Chuck E.’s in Love” and “Coolsville.”  Jones was covered by Timemagazine on her very first professional show, in Boston, and they dubbed her “The Duchess of Coolsville.”

Touring after the album’s release, she played Carnegie Hall on July 22, 1979. Members of her group included native New York guitarist Buzz Feiten, who was featured on the album and would appear in her recorded works for over a decade.

Rolling Stone magazine remained a fervent supporter of Jones, with a second cover feature in 1981; the magazine also included a glowing five-star review of Pirates,which became a commercially successful follow-up, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard200. The single “A Lucky Guy” became the only Billboard Hot 100 hit from the album, peaking at No. 64, but “Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue)” and “Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking” became minor Top 40 hits on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. 

In America, “Woody and Dutch…” became a kind of commercial mainstay. The finger snaps and jive talk beat were imitated in advertisements for McDonald’s, Dr. Pepper, and others.

Another lengthy and successful tour into 1982 followed, before Jones moved back to California, settling in San Francisco. 

A partial tour memento, the EP Girl at Her Volcano, was issued originally as a 10-inch record in 1983, featuring a mix of live and studio cover versions of jazz and pop standards, as well as one Jones original, “Hey, Bub”, which was recorded for Pirates.Jones then relocated to Paris.

She’s an acquired taste, but a great one for sure. Her show, which featured her two-man band, which were fantastic, also had her perform “Weasel and the White Boys Cool”; “It Must Be Love” and “The Last Chance Texaco” as well as a riveting cover of “Bad Company,” by Bad Company. She hinted at a forthcoming release containing her versions of some solid-gold hits.

The Hall was packed and the crowd terrific. I always wanted to see Jones and never did; it was worth the wait.

The Enemy Within

SHORT TAKES —We watched NBC’s newest TV entry The Enemy Within Monday night and really enjoyed it. The pacing is just terrific and the direction, from Mark Pellington, is just sterling. Jennifer Carpenter and Morris Chestnut, the two leads, are just perfect. Carpenter essays the CIA bigwig, who is seemingly tried for treason, Chestnut, her former partner, lost his fiance because of what she did. Pellington, who did 1999’s Arlington Road, is just superb here. According to IMDB, he directed just the pilot. His work here is outstanding … This show is in the time-space previously occupied by NBC’s Manifest. To me, this new entry is 1000 better … YES’ Jon Anderson and Gary Brooker from Procol Harum meeting at Q1043. Both giants … Tomorrow, the Mike and Micky tour gets underway. They arrive here in New York next week with a show at The Paramount (3-8) in Long Island and The Beacon Theatre (3-9) … Funny story from author Mark Bego; at Elton John’s Oscar party Sunday night. Take a look.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Peter Abraham; Peter Shendell; Jay Cassell; Mary Wilson; Beth Wernick; Robert Miller; Wendy Stuart Kaplan; Mike McCann; David Salidor; Keith Girard; Andrew Sandoval; Dina Pitenis; Steve Walter; and, CHIP.

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