Vulture Culture, you use it or you lose it...
Tim Brough | Springfield, PA United States | 12/18/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Alan Parsons Project made a serious move towards pop when "Vulture Culture" made its appearance in 1985. No opening instrumental. No orchestrations. And for the first time in many albums, no hit single. Granted, it may have been the years catching up to them (the APP's 8th album in 10 years), but "Vulture Culture" also feels a bit lackluster by Parson's own usual high standards.
The theme this time is man's general self-centeredness and predatory nature, stated rather bluntly in the opening "Let's Talk About Me." But this time, the concept feels more contrived than previous albums that so masterfully fused their ideas (like Pyramid or Eye in the Sky). The musicianship and production is newly highlighted in the remaster, and APP's usual team of stalwart musicians and vocalists are on board. Saxophonist Richard Collte in particular adds depth to some of the songs here, especially on the de-rigueur instrumental, "Hawkeye."
"Vulture Culture" does have a few highlights. The ballad "Days are Numbers (The Traveller)" should have been the first single. Graced with a gorgeous chorus and a splendid vocal from Chris Rainbow, it rates with "Time" as one of the Project's finest songs. Surprisingly, one of the other high points comes from a bonus track, the previously unreleased "No Answers Only Questions." A gentle folk ballad that probes the concept's question of why mankind seems so bent on competing so aggressively against each other.
The late Eric Woolfson writes in the liner-notes that, at the time, he and Parsons didn't think the song fit into the overall theme of "Vulture Culture." Now featured as a bonus track, "No Answers Only Questions" strikes a nice coda to the original album and, with the passing of Woolfson in November 2009, posts an additional note on the legacy of what a gifted singer/composer he was. In my opinion, "Vulture Culture" is on a par with Eve in the canon of APP albums; not bad, but one that could be set aside for better works first."