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The turn of a friendly card (fate falls in my favour, maybe)

It’s been a long while since I’ve written a music post. When I started this blog many moons ago, it was for the purpose of publishing a piece I had written about a funk-covers band called Inverto who I had discovered in Melbourne, not long after moving there.

Now, to cut a long story short, I had fallen in love with them, if that’s something you do with a band, and I wanted to write something about how great they were. One of the reasons I liked them so much was that they had covered the title theme that I liked for the film Tenebrae by the legendary Italian horror-rock band Goblin.

However, they were also playing all this other awesome music from the late seventies and early eighties that I had never heard before.

All of the musicians of Inverto had a musical pedigree; many of them had gone to the well-regarded Victorian College of the Arts, and played in jazz bands. The guitarist, Martin Lubran, had been drafted into the Hunters and Collectors as a teenager, recording in Berlin with the legendary producer Conny Plank. Then there is keyboardist Hanna Silver, who in a nurses uniform (while the others wore surgical scrubs and lab coats) would utter, with a delicate twist of her head the Italian word for fear – paura – into the vocoder of her Korg MS-20 (yeah, that’s a synth!).

Among the bands that they introduced me to was The Alan Parsons Project who some people might know as a joke from the Austin Powers films. Like Giorgio Moroder, Parsons is the music industry archetype of the Super Producer. He is a credited, though hidden star in Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon. But he had also been involved with the later Beatles albums, having started out as a 19-year old at Abbey Road studios at the end of the sixties.

He was a recording engineer who transcended the garbage and snobbery of titles and occupations, a technically brilliant person who also had wide-ranging musical talents and aspirations; enough to launch himself out on his own adventure, teaming up with producer and song-writer, Eric Woolfson in 1975.

Although the ‘project’ was named after Alan Parsons, he was not completely the public face of it, bringing in session musicians and vocalists like Karachi-born singer Lenny Zakatek, who you can hear in this amazing song below; a mid-life howl at the moon.

Alan Parsons is quoted somewhere as saying that he directs albums the way Stanley Kubrick directs films. This completely suits the approach for prog rock albums, which often revolve around a ‘concept’ or story.

But this quote also rings true with his style of music that has a completely cinematic quality to it. On the ‘Ace of Swords’ he is using the harpsichord, a baroque instrument which got a thrashing in 60s and 70s film and television – and I am sure you will know what I am talking about, the moment you hear it.

Back in Melbourne, a few months later, I found an op-shop compilation of Alan Parsons Project instrumental tracks on CD; there had been enough of them across his ten albums to make a full album. These were some of the tracks that I was already familiar with, thanks to Inverto.

At the end of my adventure in Melbourne, I packed up and came back to Sydney, where I have been up until now; my Alan Parsons CD packed away in storage.

But after this hiatus of listening, my friend Sharon posted an Alan Parsons Project song on Facebook the other night. And to be honest, I had not really listened to his lyrical tracks properly, thinking that it was only his instrumental music that I liked.

But I was completely wrong. The music has hit me with a vengeance, words and all. It is some of the best stuff I have heard, and completely suits the mood that I am in, after losing a long-term job, and being at a definite cross-roads in my life.

Anyway, there is one final song, Turn of a Friendly Card, Alan Parson’s Project, that I want to post; as I was listening to it last night, drinking a glass of red wine, some of the lyrics jumped out at me, relevant to my outlook on life at the moment, and where I need to get to.

There is not a lot of class in life, or at least, there doesn’t seem to be much to me at the moment. But the music of Alan Parsons has it in spades, and is the kind of thing that helps restore your faith, saying, keep going; there are also lots of good things in the world, and you too can be a part of them.

Finally, I would like to go back to where I started, back to Melbourne and Inverto, as I had the shock realization last night that it has been almost ten years since I was living there and left behind someone I cared about. And when Inverto’s guitarist shared something I had written about Alan Parsons (an embryonic version of this post), I left a soppy message in his comments field, telling him that I still believe they are a band that should be brought up to Sydney to play at our annual festival in January, as my city likes to boast that it has everything (when it doesn’t!)

In hindsight, the message is a bit embarrassing. But it expresses a sentiment, and some of my excitement, that I felt back then in Melbourne, when many things in my life were good.

Anyway, just so I don’t end in teary nostalgia, I would also like to share a video of Inverto covering the song that I liked by Goblin followed by Mammagamma by The Alan Parsons Project (but if you want to jump directly to Alan Parsons click here). Please excuse the poor quality audio of my Sony Cybershot; but keep listening, and I can assure you it won’t detract from their performance!

And thanks for reading, as strange as this post might be.


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