Alan Parsons - The Time Machine

Alan Parsons – The Time Machine


Critics dismissed this Alan Parsons album as substantially weak but I disagree. It’s a gentle and weaving album which integrates topics that many people can relate to, including myself.

Written by: gdmonline

ARTIST: Alan Parsons
ALBUM: The Time Machine
LABEL: River North Records/Miramar
SERIAL: 09006-23416-2
YEAR: 1999

LINEUP: Alan Parsons – production * Stuart Elliot – drums programming, keyboards, percussion, composing * Ian Bairnson – guitars, keyboards, saxophone * John Giblin – bass * Robyn Smith – keyboards, piano * Julie Singleton – violin * Claire Orsler – viola * Dinah Beamish – cello * Dr Frank Close – narration * Tony Hadley, Neil Lockwood, Colin Blunstone, Maire Brennan, Graham Dye, Beverley Craven – lead vocals * Chris Rainbow – backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Time Machine Part 1 * 02 Temporalia * 03 Out Of The Blue * 04 Call Up * 05 Ignorance Is Bliss * 06 Rubber Universe * 07 The Call Of The Wild * 08 No Future In The Past * 09 Press Rewind * 10 The Very Last Time * 11 Far Ago And Long Away * 12 The Time Machine Part 2



1999’s ‘The Time Machine’ is Alan Parsons third solo effort with team-mates Ian Bairnson and Stuart Elliot joining in the futuristic fun and games. This is a slightly different musical affair than previous solo outings or Alan Parsons Project material. In parts, there is a similarity to the modern pop-techno sound of the day courtesy of Italian-Swiss composer Robert Miles, but Bairnson and Elliot’s heavy contribution just manages to keep it within the overall Parsons framework without alienating the fanbase.

Subject-wise, there are obvious reference points to time travel both in terms of real science and pop culture-science fiction. According to Wikipedia, Parsons had explored the possibility of using this subject matter as early as the second APP, which of course ended up being ‘I Robot’. Though the album is credited as ‘Alan Parson’, most of the musical arrangements are coordinated by Bairnson and Elliot, with Parsons handling the production.

The Songs

The Robert Miles influence is immediately apparent on the title track opener ‘The Time Machine Part 1’ combining modern techno-trance with classical orchestration. ‘Temporalia’ is a narration piece with Oxford University Professor Frank Close as the documentary voice. Spandau Ballet‘s Tony Hadley provides the vocal for the lovely ‘Out Of The Blue’, an easy on the ear musical glide.

‘Call Up’ is a rockier-bluesy edged piece with references to members of the rock n roll hall of fame mentioned throughout (Jimi, Stevie (Ray Vaughan), Elvis, Lennon, etc) as well as scientists and peacemakers. Good to hear the smooth dulcet tone of Colin Blunstone on ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ which really is luxurious bliss of a musical kind. ‘Rubber Universe’ is an Ian Bairnson inspired instrumental, an urban-sounding funky-jazz type of arrangement.

Clannad‘s Maire Brennan is next to feature on the dreamy ‘The Call Of The Wild’, a song which talks about the unity of humanity into the future; a world without separation. Neil Lockwood (who also sang the earlier ‘Call Up’) reappears on ‘No Future In The Past’, a mid-tempo mild melodic rocker, it’s followed by the acoustic pop of ‘Press Rewind’, both of these tracks holding up the middle of the CD as the albums prominent pop-rock oriented moments.

English vocalist Beverley Craven weaves her way through the melancholic ‘The Very Last Time’, which seems to be a tribute to Ian Bairnson’s pet dog. The last two songs ‘Far Ago And Long Away’ plus the second part to ‘The Time Machine’ are instrumentals; the former is a dreamy groove-based arrangement with a hint of techno and modern techniques, while the latter is a 1.47 minute reprise of the first track.

In Summary

Critics dismissed this album as substantially weak but I disagree. It’s a gentle and weaving album which integrates topics that many people can relate to, including myself. The array of lead vocalists is top-notch and the music and theme doesn’t suffer as a result. As with much of Parsons past work, the mileage may vary from listener to listener, but you won’t be starved of quality.

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