Top 10 Alan Parsons Project Songs

Alan Parson Project Songs

Photo: By Andemaya (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Our Top 10 Alan Parsons Project Songs looks at the musical catalog of one of the most influential figures in rock and roll history. Alan Parsons has led what we would call a double life in rock and roll. On one hand, Alan Parsons is known as a producer and engineer on some of the most famous albums in Classic Rock History. Alan Parsons served as the engineer for The Beatles final studio album Abbey Road in 1969. Alan Parsons also worked as an audio engineer on the Pink Floyd albums Atom Heart Mother and Dark Side of the Moon. Alan Parsons was also responsible for engineering Al Stewart’s biggest hit “Year of the Cat.” One of Alan Parsons’ most recent engineering endeavors was for Steven Wilson’s album The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)  As an album producer, Alan Parsons produced albums for Ambrosia, Al Stewart, John Miles, and many others.

Alan Parsons began releasing his own music in 1976. Alan Parsons formed a partnership with Eric Woolfson and formed a group called the Alan Parsons Project which would utilize different musicians on every album they would issue over a twelve-year period of steady releases. Their first album was released in 1976, entitled Tales of Mystery and Imagination. The Alan Parsons Project followed that record with a very successful album entitled I Robot in 1977. The band’s tenth album, called Gaudi, was released in 1987. It would be the final album the band released until 2014, when an unreleased album called The Sicilian Defence was released.

Besides his work with the Alan Parsons Project, Alan Parsons also released four solo studio albums. Over the years, there was also an onslaught of live albums and compilations released under the Alan Parsons Project name and simply just Alan Parsons.

Our Top 10 Alan Parsons Project Songs list will focus mainly on the music released on the Alan Parsons Project albums. (We updated the list to 11 after the first publication, see note on track 10)

# 11 – I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You

We open our Top 10 Alan Parsons Project songs list with the excellent track “I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You.” The song was released on the Alan Parsons Project album I Robot. It was the band’s second album. It was released in 1977. Lenny Zakatek performed the lead vocal on the track. The song was released as the album’s only single. The song reached the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.  “I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You.” peaked at number 36. This has always been one of our favorite Alan Parsons songs and stands as a great way to open up our list.

# 10 – Breakdown

Editors Note: (I Robot is one of the best Alan Parsons Project albums ever released. It was on my turntable constantly. When we were putting together this Alan Parsons Project songs list, we had to decide which songs from the album we would include on it. Songs like “Breakdown” and “Some Other Time” are fan favorites and, of course, amazing pieces of music. Our first publication of this list left them off because we were trying to cover various parts of their career. However, one of our loyal readers made an impression on us with his point about those two great songs. So we have taken “Lucifer” off the list, added “Some Other Time” and “Breakdown” to the article, and increased the list to 11. Why not?

# 9 – Some Other Time

(See note above)

# 8 – Damned If I Do

“Lucifer” was the opening track on side one of the Eve album. “Damned If I Do” was the opening track on side two. During the vinyl years, placing the best songs on albums as the opening tracks was standard because there was more vinyl groove available on the outer perimeter of the vinyl record. The audio of those songs always sounded better.

# 7 – The Fall Of The House Of Usher

The Alan Parsons Project’s shining progressive rock moment. “The Fall Of The House Of Usher” was released on the Alan Parsons Project’s debut album Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Edgar Allen Poe’s book was turned into a movie starring Vincent Price in the 1960s that was about as creepy as a movie could get. I saw it as a kid, and it gave me nightmares for years.

# 6 – In The Real World

The great Ian Bairnson’s guitar lick at the beginning of the song “In The Real World” sealed the deal for us on choosing this fantastic track for our top 10 Alan Parsons Project songs list. The song “In The Real World” was released on the Stereotomy album in 1985.

# 5 – Mammagamma

The song “Mammagamma” was an instrumental released on the Eye in the Sky album in 1982. We love the Alan Parsons Project instrumentals. The legendary Hipgnosis art firm designed the cover for the Eye In The Sky album. Hipgnosis was the same art firm that created many legendary classic rock album covers, including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.

# 4 – Time

The song “Time” was released on the Turn of a Friendly Card album 1980. Eric Wolfson performed the lead vocal on the track. It was the first time Eric Wolfson had sung lead vocals on an Alan Parson Project song. In the United States, the song peaked  at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also achieved notable success on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart, ascending to the 10th position. Furthermore, “Time” secured a two-week stint at the 14th spot on the Cash Box chart, positioning it as the ensemble’s second-most successful single, tied with “Don’t Answer Me” from 1984, which also climbed to No. 15 on the Hot 100, but peaked at No. 17 on Cash Box. According to Cash Box, “Time” was ranked as the 94th most popular hit of 1981. Beyond the U.S. borders, the song reached the 30th position in Canada.

# 3 – Don’t Answer Me

The song “Don’t Answer Me” was released on Ammonia Avenue in 1984. The song reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984. That was an awe-inspiring feat because the competition for airplay in 1984 was fierce. Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The USA was storming the charts that year, along with Prince’s Purple Rain, Madonna’s Like A Virgin, and strong albums from Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen, and many others.

# 2 – Games People Play

As we get closer to our number one spot on our top 10 Alan Parsons Project songs list we turn to one of the band’s biggest hits. The fantastic song “Games People Play” was released on The Turn of a Friendly Card album in 1980.

For the single release, “Games People Play” underwent two notable edits: one in the instrumental portion before the guitar solo and another reducing the length of the solo itself. Additionally, the tempo of the single version was slightly increased. The 2015 deluxe anniversary edition of The Turn of a Friendly Card includes a “single edit” that differs from the original single version, retaining the original pitch and featuring different edits.

Chart performance for “Games People Play” spanned 1980 and 1981, with notable placements in Australia, Canada, and the United States. In the US, the song was ranked No. 66 in the year-end chart for 1981 according to Billboard’s Top Pop Singles, while in Canada, it secured the No. 90 spot in RPM Magazine’s year-end rankings.

# 1 – Eye In The Sky

It’s tough to choose a number one song from a band like the Alan Parson Project, but that’s what makes writing these lists so much fun. The song “Eye in the Sky,” was released on the Eye in the Sky album in 1982. The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios.

The original album version of Eye in the Sky is preceded by “Sirius,” a 1:54-minute instrumental that seamlessly transitions into the song, creating an iconic opening sequence. However, for its single release, “Eye in the Sky” was isolated from “Sirius,” which was the version predominantly played on pop radio at the time. Presently, both album-oriented rock and classic rock stations tend to play the version that includes the “Sirius” introduction, acknowledging the song’s full artistic intent and its impact within the rock genre.

The personnel behind this iconic track includes Alan Parsons himself, handling the Fairlight CMI, production, and engineering, showcasing his multifaceted talent. Eric Woolfson contributed with the Wurlitzer electric piano, vocals, composition, and lyrics, adding depth to the song’s emotive and sonic landscape. Additional contributions came from Ian Bairnson with his guitar work, David Paton on bass, Stuart Elliott on drums, and Chris Rainbow providing backing vocals, each adding their unique touch to the song’s intricate composition.

Chart-wise, Eye in the Sky demonstrated its global appeal through its performance across various charts in 1982, including peaking at No. 1 in Canada and Spain, and maintaining strong positions in other regions such as Australia, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States. The song’s year-end chart performance further solidified its status as a significant hit of 1982, particularly highlighted by its No. 1 ranking on the Spanish Singles Chart and its placement within the top 50 of the Canadian RPM Top Singles and the US Billboard Hot 100 and Cashbox Top 100, underscoring its lasting impact in the realm of rock music and beyond.

 

Top 10 Alan Parsons Project Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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