This week I review the complete works of the Alan Parsons Project, soon to released by Sony Legacy, and local band the Lo-Fi Project that represent polar opposites.
- "The Alan Parsons Project - the Complete Albums Collection"
This 11-CD set of the complete works of the the famed producer is set to be released by Legacy on March 31.
Chances are if you were alive in the 1970s and '80s you heard the work of the Alan Parsons Project, whose songs you couldn't escape if you turned on both AM and FM radio.
Back in those bad old days, it wasn't really all that unusual for a producer to create a band and begin turning out albums, especially one as famous as Parsons. A veteran of several famous recording sessions, including as engineer on the Beatles' albums "Let it Be" and "Abbey Road," Parsons also was the engineer on one of the most sonically produced albums ever -Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."
That album, with its cutting-edge production, attracted the attention of songwriter Eric Woolfson. The duo embarked on a journey using studio musicians and unknown bands to create the Alan Parsons Project.
Being the mid-1970s, almost anything was possible, and the virtual band was signed to Arista Records. The band soon had a rack of hits to its name as well as several progressive-rock concept albums, such as "I Robot" and eight other albums. The box set also includes the never before released album "The Sicilian Defense."
My take on the band is this - you either liked them or you didn't, but there was no denying the band turned out some memorable hit singles during its 10 years in existence. Hey - it was the 1970s, the age of "anything goes."
- "The Lo-Fi Project"
They may both have the word "project" in their name, but the debut CD by local band the Lo-Fi Project couldn't possibly be more different than the above-reviewed band.
The Lo-Fi Project is a part of a movement and reaction against the modern, over-produced world of rock and pop while at the same time being a cross between the hard electric blues of Muddy Waters and raw punk angst that reminds me of the Sex Pistols first album, "Never Mind the Bollocks." This cigar-box band has recorded an album that proves what really matters the most in American music is the almighty groove.
The brainchild of Toronto native Brian Saner, a maker of primitive guitars made out of everything from license plates to broom handles, the Lo-Fi Project seems to pride itself on rebelling against everything modern music is. And people, let me tell you - it's about damned time!
I got a chance to catch the band's set last week at Toronto's Main Street Gallery, which is quickly becoming THE place for outside-of-the-box music and arts, and I was impressed by how these guys mixed older blues tunes, such as Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'" with Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," Tom Waits' "2:19" and the classic "Stuck in the Middle With You" - who can forget the infamous "ear scene" in Quentin Tarantino's bloody masterpiece "Reservoir Dogs" - all done with style, a fair amount of boozy humor and a whole lotta down-low groove.
In fact, my favorite song on the CD is "Lo-Down," a rocker that captures the hypnotizing, time-is-standing-still vibe of the best of the ancient Mississippi Delta blues. I have no idea if it's an original or not, but it's a cool slice of dirty white boy blues.
The end result of this madness is an infectious wall-of-sound using slides and instruments no one in their right mind should be using, but it's also a hell of a lot of fun. The music goes especially well with alcohol, and the more low-shelf the booze, the better.
At one point I thought the band was going to break into Led Zeppelin's majestic "slidapalooza," "In My Time of Dying," which was, of course, stolen from a delta blues tune, like most of the mighty Zep's bluesy stuff. But no matter - the band had a packed house for its brand of raw, funky blues-rock that captivated the crowd. They should be captivated - there's nothing even remotely like this band in the entire Ohio Valley.
I'd love to give you the band members' names, but the print on the CD is too small for this 52-year-old to read, and the website wasn't much help, either. For information I suggest the band's website, at www.thelo-fiproject.com. Never has low seemed so high.