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I grew up with music surrounding me. My mother played cello in several orchestras and as a result, I was privileged to attend many classical concerts, operas and musicals. My dad was a virtuoso of sorts on the organ and played for the church. In my family, there are five siblings and out of those siblings, at least three of us took piano lessons, including me. I remember one of my brothers attempting to learn the trombone, while the other tried his hand at the drums. My youngest sister continued to learn piano, while my other sister took up guitar lessons. My exposure to music early in life was primarily to classical music, obviously, which is interesting considering I grew up in the sixties and seventies.
I wasn’t just stuck with classical music though. I won my first transistor radio in a raffle when I was about ten years old. Later, I had my first cassette player and the first tape cassette I owned was a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tape. So, I was privy to rock and roll. We had a radio and I remember listening to the tunes of the early greats in pop, soul and rock and roll, from the late fifties, on. The important point here is that music was a strong element in my formative years and it remains so to this day.
However, as I grew and matured, my tastes in pop and rock were always on the edges of the norm. Even though I enjoyed the trending “top ten” songs on the pop and rock charts, my attention tended to gravitate to more complex music in the genres. Sure, I enjoyed the Beatles, Beach Boys, Led Zeplin and Rolling Stones just like other kids, but I tended to also like the Ventures and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, too. I used to keep long lists of all the bands and groups I wanted to collect music from. I just enjoyed listening to the different arrangements and compilations groups came up with.
In the early 80’s, out of the blue, one song seemed to catch my attention a little more than most pieces of the time. It started out with a driven sounding preface or preamble that had a nice heavy but catchy downbeat. The chords were deep and it flowed right into some lyrics that I really could identify with. This song was near the top of the charts and it was by a band I had not heard of. The very name of the band was unusual but had an intellectual ring to it. The song was Sirius/Eye In The Sky. The band? The Alan Parsons Project.
I liked the omniscient message of the lyrics; I can see you and you don’t fool me. The preamble, Sirius, has gone on to be a significant part of the sports scene and continues to be today. Even kids in the later generations are familiar with that riff but most don’t know where it came from. Well, Eye In The Sky caught my attention, and I’ve collected this group’s works ever since. I have all of the early albums, though not on vinyl, but that will change.
What is it about their music? It’s thematic and intellectual. In an era where music was primarily played using guitars, keyboards and drums, they employed a lot of classical influences in their music. Sometimes, I could hear orchestras in the background. The group explored synthesized music with jazz and classic flavors. The themes varied from Edgar Alan Poe to interpersonal relationships. One album is about gambling while another refers to the cathedral, La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain (because of this album, going to Barcelona, Spain is currently an important ‘bucket list’ item). Yet another album portrays life in the fast lane of pursuing material success and another speaks about flight. Every album has a theme. I like that; I like stories. Okay, so as you can guess, I’m a staunch fan of this group.
Although I have been to many classical-type concerts, up until recently, I had only attended ONE rock music concert which was a Molly Hatchet concert in Boise, Idaho, back in 1978. I always told my husband that if I had only ONE pop/rock concert to choose to go to, the one that I would MOST want to attend would be an Alan Parsons concert. It’s a ‘bucket list’ kind of thing for me. I have visited their official website from time to time to look at their touring plans. They never seemed to be within reach for me, given my location in the Northwest. I had almost given up on ever attending one of their concerts.
That changed, last month, when my husband saw an advertisement on television about the group playing a concert at a casino about an hour or so north of us. We jumped on the opportunity to buy tickets to attend that concert! Wow! What a show! Sure, all of the original members except Alan Parsons, himself, are no longer with the group for various reasons, but his musician lineup was great and the concert was fantastic! They played most of the early, popular pieces plus a couple of new ones, finishing up and saving the best for last with Sirius/Eye In The Sky. The audience also managed to get them to come out for a gracious encore. To document the event AND to share, I took some photos. This is what I experienced…..
*Press play to listen to songs that were played during the concert!