The Alan Parsons Project, Pyramid

Pyramid is really the first time where Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson learned how to make a pop-friendly album; I Robot and Tales of Mystery and Imagination were interesting to the right fan but completely incomprehensible to everyone else. Unfortunately, their application of this skill is incomplete on this concept album that's apparently completely without a concept. While I enjoy the well-developed introspective pieces, especially the couplet of "What Goes Up..." with the almost religious overtones of "The Eagle Will Rise Again," as well as the closing "Shadow Of A Lonely Man" where guest vocalist John Miles wisely pulls his punches for a beautifully understated effect, the three instrumental tracks are as inscrutable as they were on "I Robot," and "One More River" and "Can't Take It With You" are not only boring to listen to but sport the clichéd lyrical intelligence of a second-string political speechwriter. The high point is the sparkling "Pyramania," which starts with the obvious pun and adds a witty commentary on the foolishness of trendy beliefs and faddish fascinations (with pyramid power), but only serves to throw the album's deficiencies into sharp relief. Overall, best treated as a transitional album with some high points worth picking up on a compilation instead. The reissue adds the usual tiresome and underdeveloped early mix versions. (Content: no concerns.)