Eric Woolfson's Treatise on the Human Tragedy of Gambling Ad
Parrish A. Highley | Somewhere I've Never Travelled | 09/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If much of Peter Gabriel's lasting artistic legacy will be the principled stands he has taken for the cause of human rights, then a similar legacy should linger long after Eric Woolfson for his insights into the human tragedies of gambling addiction. While many superficial songs have been written on the subject, The Turn of a Friendly Card explores the excitement and disappointment, the folly and the wisdom that can sometimes come when there is Nothing Left To Lose. That song, in particular, embodies an uplifting melody around starkly somber lyrics that together create a sense of quiet resignation, a singularly unique emotion not heard in many songs. But as deeply as this concept album delves into these themes of mental addiction and the power of choice versus the unconscious, Woolfson delves even deeper in his musical GAMBLER where additionally the primal male fantasies of heroism are turned against the hero. This album benefits from not only the stellar production and engineering of Alan Parsons, but also from two of the finest instrumentals Parsons has ever composed: The Gold Bug and The Ace Of Swords.
If asked just what was The Alan Parsons Project, the simple answer would be a couple of musical geniuses who had the good sense to surround themselves with a bunch of other musical geniuses. Even a casual interest in the liner notes will reveal the unique talents of Andrew Powell who was solely responsible for all of the Project's orchestral arrangements. But far less obvious would be the tremendous contributions that guitarist Ian Bairnson made throughout the life of the Project in terms of arrangement and, all too often, extremely complicated key changes. On I Don't Wanna Go Home in particular, Bairnson places a single sheet of paper between the strings and the pickup of his guitar in order to achieve an almost unheard organic quality to his playing. Even Chris Rainbow deserves much more praise for his "rainbow effect" vocal harmonies laden throughout The Project catalog and showcased on the bonus material Nothing Left To Lose (Chris Rainbow Overdub Vocal Compilation).
While I have heard some refer to The Alan Parsons Project as a poor man's Pink Floyd, I contend strongly that The Turn of a Friendly Card stands toe to toe with the best efforts Pink Floyd ever put forth. The range of styles, tempos, and moods are as diverse as those on The Floyd's most successful album Dark Side of the Moon, but that should come as no surprise considering Parsons' substantial involvement in recording and engineering that masterpiece. While this album's influence may not go as deep and wide as Dark Side despite the success of the singles Time and Games People Play, it certainly should given the relevance of the subject matter in modern societies where gambling is more widely sanctioned than ever."
Brilliant Remaster Of A Classic APP Album
B. J O'Connor | Holmdel,NJ USA | 03/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Turn Of A Friendly Card" was The Alan Parsons Project commercial breakthrough in 1980,peaking at #13 on the Billboard Album Chart and producing two Top 20 hits,the up-tempo synth-laden "Games People Play" and the lovely dream-like ballad "Time".A concept album about gambling,it's also one of APP's best efforts,featuring polished,dynamic production,strong vocals (by Eric Woolfson,Chris Rainbow,Lenny Zakatek and Elmer Gantry,respectily),lush orchestraion, and thoughtful,tuneful songs throughout with no weak songs.This expanded reissue contains 7 bonus tracks(mostly alternate or demos of the album's songs),liner notes by Jerry Ewing,period pictures vividly reproduced in the booklet and a wonderful remastering job by Dave Donnelly and Alan Parsons himself at DNA Mastering,the latter of which is an excellent reason for any fan to replace their old 1980's-era Arista CD for good.Why this is not available stateside is a mystery.UPDATE:It has finally been released stateside in early 2009 as with the rest of the APP catalog."
Good remaster, but not great
M. Leach | St. Louis, MO USA | 04/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Turn of a Friendly Card is one of Alan Parsons best albums, and the newly remastered version is clearly better than the original CD release. The sound is good, but not great. Some remasters are radically better, and although it is an improvement, it lacks some of the "wow factor" that I would give to a great remastering job. The bonus tracks are interesting, with the Chris Rainbow overdub my favorite. Even if you have an old copy of the original CD release, this version is still worth buying."
A work of genius
Friendlycard | Norfolk, UK | 05/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Between the Project's groundbreaking 'Tales of Mystery' (1976) and the release of 'Turn of a Friendly Card' (1980), the arrival of punk and disco had changed the music scene out of all recognition, but the genius that was APP sailed on regardless, producing a succession of groundbreaking albums ('I Robot', 'Pyramid', 'Eve'). 'Friendly Card' was the best Project album to date, and many, myself included, rate this as the best of the lot.
Inspired by gambling - or perhaps, more broadly, by the relationship between chance and destiny - 'Friendly Card' is a beautifully crafted, inspired concept album where the total exceeds the sum of the parts. There are great individual contributions here - Ian Bairnson's guitar work and Chris Rainbow's sublime vocals, to name but two - but the overall cohension of the album is superb, under the inspired guidance of Parsons, Eric Woolfson and Andrew Powell.
Though including some catchy songs (such as 'Games People Play'), the heart of the album is the 'Turn of a Friendly Card' suite. When I first heard this, I felt it was a crowning achievement in the prog rock pantheon. It sounds just as good today.
The remastering of this version is excellent. To be sure, it's been done with a light and subtle touch, but it should be remembered that the sound quality of the original album was far ahead of the contemporary norm. Add in the excellent bonus material and you have a beautiful reissue of one of the truly great prog rock albums. Brilliant."
An outstanding album with a heavy emotional impact
Justin M. James | Columbia, SC | 07/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What I really love about this album, is just how strong the theme is throughout it. Some of APP's albums, like "Eve", "Gaudi", and "Ammonia Avenue", are only loosely held together by some points of commonality. And of course, "Tale of Mystery and Imagination" has a "theme of inspiration" as opposed to a "theme of content". But "Turn of a Friendly Card" not only adheres as closely to its theme as "Tales..." does, but the basis of it is so well executed. The only other APP album which comes as close to telling a full story is "Eve".
There is something about the album which appeals to me at a deep emotional level. I've never had a gambling problem (which is the theme of the album), but the recurring line of the album, "the game never ends/ when your whole world depends/on the turn of a friendly card" just feels like so much of my life. I think anyone who lives life not accepting what they have, but wanting more, or who has ambition, or has taken risks can identify with that feeling, the feeling of being on the rollercoaster and just not being able to get off of it. And the album captures that so well.
I have yet to meet the APP album I didn't like. I was introduced to them via "Vulture Culture" and then "Stereotomy", eventually I got the "Best of..." discs, but didn't listen to them for years. After emerging from a decade of Metalica and Marilyn Manson, and rediscovering the music I grew up on, I pucked up "Turn of a Friendly Card". I now own all of their albums, and I like something about each one of them, but "Turn of a Friendly Card" gets heard more than the others put together."