The Alan Parsons Project Tales of Mystery and Imagination Edgar Allen Poe

Released in 1976 Tales of Mystery and Imagination was the first album by The Alan Parsons Project. Adapting the stories of Edgar Allen Poe to music was certainly an ambitious idea for a debut album. The album is considered a cult classic of prog rock, but I can honestly see this album doing better if it had been released in the 80's. Parts of it sound very 70's, but a great deal of it sounds ahead of its time. Apparently there was a reissue in the 80's with added narration by Orson Welles. I'd love to hear that version.

The album starts with A Dream Within a Dream, a bit of filler really and not terribly interesting. The Raven is a bit better and features a rhythmic bass that I really thought would have made more sense on The Tell-Tale Heart. Speaking of which, that song is pretty good. Arthur Brown of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown does a guest vocal on it, and it is fun but not really a knockout. The Cask of Amontillado is just a sort of weak Beatles clone and not very impressive at all. The highlight of the first side is definitely (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, which despite it's unwieldy title is easily the catchiest tune.  It almost has an Eye of the Tiger bounce to it.

The Fall of the House of Usher is the epic of the album, taking up most of the second side. The beginning sounds like a movie soundtrack. It is definitely the most atmospheric, and is also the least pop oriented. To One In Paradise goes into a bit of a Pink Floyd vibe, but just a little more generic than anything from Dark Side of the Moon. It also loses the atmosphere that set Usher apart from the other tracks. Overall it's a good album, but not great. It's very enjoyable, but not a go to album that you listen to repeatedly. It honestly could have stood to be a bit darker in mood considering the material it takes it's inspiration from. If it didn't have Edgar Allen Poe's name on it, it probably would have landed better than it does. The music isn't bad, it just feels a bit generic in places and doesn't fit with the themes of madness that runs through the particular Poe works they picked to represent.


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