July 2000

SoundStage! Talks with Alan Parsons

If you ask a random person to name a recording engineer, the only answer you're likely to hear in response is Alan Parsons. While his groundbreaking work in that role on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is notable, his long career as a producer for other artists also includes the likes of Ambrosia, Cockney Rebel, The Hollies, John Miles and Al Stewart. It's in regard to his albums released under the Alan Parsons Project moniker, specifically the Classic Records remastering of I Robot onto DVD, that we recently asked Alan a few questions.

SoundStage!: Could you describe your involvement with Bernie Grundman's mastering session for the I Robot DVD? And have you had a chance to hear the final result?

Alan Parsons: I showed up at Bernie's mastering studio and we did a little EQ tweaking. I haven't heard it off DVD in full 24-bit, but I heard it through the processor at Bernie's. Sounded good.

SS!: The Alan Parsons Project catalog has always been a popular source for remastered audiophile releases. The Mobile Fidelity UHQR LP of I Robot remains a highly prized collectible, and their Tales of Mystery and Imagination was an early showpiece for their GAIN system. Do you ever compare the retail releases of your recordings to see how your music is actually being delivered to consumers?

AP: I assume you knew Mobile Fidelity went bust last year (owing me money!). I lost interest in vinyl long ago, but I accept that, with good care, improvements can be made to the standard mastering and pressing processes. Before CDs, I was fanatic about the quality of pressings and mastering in the various territories -- even more so about the occasionally appalling quality of standard cassettes. I made several complaints to factories, telling them I was making better copies on a $50 deck. I hated the Dolby artifacts on cassettes.

SS!: You're no stranger to remastering your own recordings, either. Your work on The Definitive Collection release is fantastic, the 1987 remix of TOMAI offers a compelling revision of a classic, and the DTS version of On Air stands out as one of the best uses of surround for a rock album I know of. Are there any upcoming "Projects" like that we can look forward to?

AP: Thank you. I'm hoping to do a hits compilation -- in surround -- sometime soon. Maybe a DVD with pictures too. No immediate plans for anything new.

The latest release from Alan Parsons is 1999's The Time Machine, featuring lead vocals from Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet), Neil Lockwood (ELO Part II), Colin Blunstone (The Zombies), Graham Dye, Marie Brennan (Clannad), and Beverly Craven.

Thanks to Steve Martin for arranging this interview. His publication The Avenue is highly recommended to fans as a source for information about the past and current work of Alan Parsons.

...Greg Smith