The Alan Parsons Project was a British Progressive Rock band active between 1975 and 1990. The core group consisted of Alan Parsons (Producer/Engineer/Co-Writer/Occasional Instruments and backing vocals) and Eric Woolfson (Keyboards/Lyricist/Vocalist), with additional members recruited as required for each individual project. After the band's dissolution, Woolfson went on to work on musicals (including several which continued the themes of Project albums) before dying of kidney cancer in 2009, while Parsons created several solo albums and has toured extensively playing mostly Project songs, with his band taking the name of "The Alan Parsons Live Project".APP are known for a more accessible style of prog-rock than many of the other bands of the era. They rarely used strange time signatures, and for the most part stuck to 4-5 minute radio-length songs. They often used full orchestration in their songs, with some of the best examples being "The Cask of Amontillado" (from Tales Of Mystery and Imagination) and "Silence and I" (from Eye In The Sky). While the makeup of the backing band changed constantly, some members became essentially permanent parts of the band, including guitarist Ian Bairnson (who contributed all of the band's lead guitar work) and bassist David Paton (who also sang lead vocals on a few songs). Over time, the band became more pop-influenced, and in the mid-1980s, synthesizers started to replace their orchestra, reaching their zenith on Stereotomy, an album that is almost entirely synthpop.
Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1976) - inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe (Notable Songs: "The Raven," "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether")
I Robot (1977) - Loosely inspired by the works of Isaac Asimov (Notable Songs: "I Wouldn't Wanna Be Like You," "Breakdown," "Don't Let It Show")
Pyramid (1978) - Based on the then-popular pseudoscience of "pyramid power," with general themes of death and impermanence as well. (Notable Songs: "What Goes Up," "Can't Take It With You," "The Eagle Will Rise Again")
Eve (1979) - About misogyny and feminism. (Notable Songs: "Lucifer," "Damned if I Do," "If I Could Change Your Mind")
The Turn of a Friendly Card (1980) - About gambling and midlife crisis. (Notable Songs: "Games People Play," "Time," the Turn Of A Friendly Card suite ("The Turn of a Friendly Card, Part 1," "Snake Eyes," "The Ace of Swords," "Nothing Left to Lose," "The Turn of a Friendly Card, Part 2"))
Eye in the Sky (1982) - About belief systems - both religious and political. (Notable Songs: "Sirius," "Eye in the Sky," "Psychobabble," "Old and Wise")
Ammonia Avenue (1984) - Based on the tension between the scientific community and the public, as well as a general theme of failure to communicate. (Notable Songs: "Prime Time," "Since The Last Goodbye," "Don't Answer Me," "You Don't Believe")
Vulture Culture (1984) - About the selfishness and dishonesty of modern culture. (Notable Songs: "Let's Talk About Me," "Days Are Numbers (The Traveler)")
Stereotomy (1985) - About the pressures of modern life. (Notable Songs: "Stereotomy," "Limelight")
Gaudi (1987) - Inspired by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, especially his Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona. (Notable Songs: "La Sagrada Familia," "Standing on Higher Ground")
I Am the Band: Alan Parsons (producer/sound engineer) and Eric Woolfson (songwriter), neither of whom sang or played instruments regularly (although Woolfson does sing lead on the band's biggest hit, "Eye in the Sky", and played keyboards on a lot of their later stuff).
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Anywhere from a 1 ("Time," "Old and Wise") to a 3 ("You're Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned," "La Sagrada Familia"), but on the whole, pretty soft even for a prog-rock band.
Retraux: And a number of other past-meets-future-type-tropes, just from the cover of I Robot. There's the retro-futuristic-looking robot, but also 1950s fashions for the men on the escalators (fedoras and suits), and the escalators are very clearly those of Charles de Gaulle Airport in Parisnote Or as it is known today, Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle; Terminals 2 and 3 are rather different. which was designed in the late 1960s and didn't open until 1974 (i.e. long after fedoras were out of style).
Self-Backing Vocalist: Guest vocalist Chris Rainbow elevated this to an art form, both with lead harmonies and veritable walls of backing vocals. He was credited in a couple of Alan Parsons Project albums as a "One-Man Beach Boys Choir".
Soprano and Gravel: Chris Rainbow ("The Turn of a Friendly Card") and Eric Woolfson ("Eye in the Sky"), as opposed to Lenny Zakatek ("I Wouldn't Wanna Be Like You") and David Paton ("What Goes Up")