Tales of Mystery & Imagination

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I bought Tales of Mystery & Imagination at a flea market shortly after it had been released.  Whoever the original purchaser was he did not think much of the album.  The LP was in pristine shape.  So why did I buy it? Well, because I was a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe and the notion that there was an album based on his work was enough for me to spend the dollar.

First impressions? I was enthused, actually.  It was completely different from anything I had previously heard in that the mood and atmosphere of the music were a theatrical pairing with the words and theme of the songs. The production somehow managed to meld sound effects, long instrumentals, and a unique overall sound to the huge and obscure themes of Poe’s featured works.  While I was amazed by the album, I had a pretty good idea why its previous owner had dumped it at a flea market.

Know the Stories?

Tales of Mystery & Imagination is certainly not for everyone.  Even back then, at the height of my wonder at this peculiar LP, I had to be in the right mood for Tales of Mystery  & Imagination.  “The System of Dr. Tarr and Mr. Fether,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Raven” are very theatrical pieces, truly suitable for the stage; they are not, however, suitable for any party I’ve ever attended.  They have their place.

Tales of Mystery & Imagination is the sort of album you listen to alone or with other aficionados. Most often it is a solitary listening experience. The more of those solitary listening experiences I’ve had over the years the more I’m certain the best parts of the album are the instrumentals, monumental as they are. “The Fall of the House of Usher” isn’t the least bit dated today and it is a wonderful interpretation of that horrific story. For me, the same is true of the Alan Parsons Project’s other work as well, “In the Lap of the Gods” (from Pyramid) overshadowing the more popular “Pyromania” for instance. With that in mind, I can’t help wondering what the all-instrumental The Sicilian Defence would sound like if it were fleshed out, sort of the opposite undertaking to the current “naked” processing of previously overproduced albums.



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