There’s a minute from Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me the surely make Alan Parsons wince. In the scene, Dr. Evil presents his latest arrangement for civilization domination, one entailing a gigantic laser invented by physicist Dr. Parsons, prior to declaring, “We shall contact it… the Alan Parsons Project.” The response from his asshole son, Scott Evil? A snicker, and then a retort: “Why don’t you just call it ‘Operation Wang Chung’?” and also that, in a signature (ahem), was what the tradition of among the Eighties’ biggest progressive rock acts amounted to in 1999: a cheap laugh in a lazy, uninspired sequel. Scott evil couldn’t even bother to acquire his days right. (The Alan Parsons task started in 1975. Not 1982. Ass.)

Even throughout their element years, Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson—the pair minds behind APP—rarely obtained much far better from the vital establishment. Like most progressive rockers, they grew respect via a small-but-loyal cult audience: sci-fi geeks, audiophiles, musicians right into “the craft,” and also basically anyone with a kind pair that headphones or one expensive stereotype system. However unlike various other prog acts, ultimate pop success to be hardwired into their sound beforehand on. The Alan Parsons Project never quite managed a start-to-finish classic album, yet Parsons and Woolfson can write hits with the best of ‘em. “Damned If ns Do,” which got to #27 as the years turned over, wasn’t an anomaly. The was an early indication of points to come.

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Alan Parsons was all of 18 once he received his first professional credit: “Assistant Engineering” top top the Beatles’ Abbey Road. But his reputation truly solidified through his work on Pink Floyd’s magnum opus The Dark next Of The Moon. Officially, Parsons’ function was “staff engineer.” Unofficially, he was virtually as prominent as Floyd chin in shaping the sound that the biggest Headphones record Of all Time. The memorable clock succession that opens “Time” is one of his field recordings; Clare Torry, the sword-of-Valhalla vocalist slicing with “The good Gig In The Sky,” to be his suggestion. The enormous success of Dark Side efficiently gave Parsons a empty check within the industry. Within three years, he’d have his own manager and his very own studio-created ensemble.

Eric Woolfson was both that manager and the other half of that ensemble. 3 years older than Parsons, he’d functioned as a songwriter in London transparent the 1960s. That collaborated through Marianne Faithful and Andrew Lloyd Webber. He exit a 1971 solitary backed by the future members of 10cc. And when he made decision to make the foray into artist management, his very first signing to be Carl Douglas. Woolfson started regulating Parsons just months before Douglas' “Kung Fu Fighting” went to #1 in over a dozen countries. (One that those countries was the U.S. “Kung Fu Fighting” is a 6.)

APP emerged out the Parsons’ desire to exercise much more control end his studio jobs than his artists to be willing to give; “The Alan Parsons Project” was both band name and also statement that intent. All songwriting credits were separation with Woolfson, with session musicians hired to flesh the end the duo’s original demos, and certain key players retained throughout multiple albums. In essence, The Alan Parsons Project became the prog-rock Steely Dan. (Like the Dan, they never ever bothered to tourism either.)

“Damned If ns Do” relies heavily on among those an essential players: vocalist Lenny Zakatek. Born in brothers India (now contemporary Pakistan), Lenny du Platel sang for a selection of U.K. Rock and soul teams upon relocating to England in the early 1960s. In 1971 he was “discovered” by Lynsey de Paul, then-girlfriend come Dudley Moore: She introduced him come the brother press, penned songs because that his earliest single releases, and also suggested a surname change.

By 1974, the newly christened Zakatek to be fronting disco-soul outfit Gonzalez. Gonzalez frequently played in London. One of their biggest fans was Eric Woolfson. And Woolfson required a vocalist for a disco-influenced monitor planned because that the 2nd APP album, I Robot. Zakatek to be paid 250 quid for to sing lead top top 1977’s “I Wouldn’t desire To Be like You.” It came to be the Alan Parsons Project’s best hit the the Seventies. (It’s an 8.)

Zakatek was much from the only singer to show up on an app release—I count much more than fifteen various vocalists, plus 2 choral ensembles, across just the very first four albums—but yes a reason he was called “The Voice” that the task in certain circles. From 1977 come 1980, the Alan Parsons job released twelve singles; just the 3 featuring Zakatek’s vocals fight the optimal 40. Ns not sure if Woolfson and Parsons began writing come his strengths, or if his talents merely elevated their many radio-friendly material. Perhaps radio listeners simply appreciate consistency in your favorite bands.

“Damned If i Do” is the weakest of the three Zakatek-fronted singles, however that’s much more a knock on the songwriting than the command vocal. (His octave leap ~ above the last chorus is an pure killer.) The disco influence from “I Wouldn’t desire To Be prefer You” greatly disappears here, changed by pure white-boy strut that’s also stiff because that funk, also breezy because that actual rock. And also while the city melody is warm and also engaging, the chorus proper registers. Parsons, come his credit, does everything in his strength to save the listener distracted. Yes sir a synthesized trumpet voluntary. Yes an impeccably played etc solo. Yes a key-board sequencer nearly lifted wholesale indigenous Floyd’s “On The Run.” yes a lot of stuff.

And at part point, most likely when whole orchestra crashes in on optimal of the synthesized trumpets, it all becomes a little bit too much. (And yes, i realize the complaining about excess in one Alan Parsons task song is prefer complaining about sex hoax in a Two and A fifty percent Men episode.) however that claims less around the (obviously immaculate) production and much more about the ingredient itself. “Damned If ns Do” is, simply, a slight song. And also no way can its structure support all the layers Parsons throw on top.

To placed it an additional way, production only becomes “over-production” when it draws fist to itself. That’s why the best app tracks run like Swiss watches: a million moving parts, all functioning perfectly… and quietly. “Damned If i Do,” along with its parental album, Eve, is much from Parsons and also Woolfson’s best. Yet its success laid the groundwork. The guys of the Alan Parsons job would go back to the optimal 40 soon enough, following time with lot stronger material.

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BONUS BITS: There’s usually nothing else out there beyond a 7” edit of the album track, so this is an orchestral variation (from Andrew Powell, the initial arranger and conductor top top Eve) that leans a little bit harder into the symphonic elements.