on September 17, 2003
One of the best albums from The Alan Parsons Project, my feel to it is an inverse to 'Ladyhawke' film. If the lattest was a rock soundtrack for a medieval film, this resembles to quote modern life with many medieval musical elements.
The proof of that is the opening horns in 'May Be a Price to Pay'. A superb instrumental introduction leads to the strong voice of Elmer Gantry. The words add also a medieval thematic speaking about sorcerers, masters and servants. There's a great orchestral part in the middle with very much melisma and a big feel of adventure!! The next song, 'Games People Play' is a good hit sung by Lenny Zakatek, a very dynamic pop-rock song. 'Time' is a classic and the first attempt of Eric Woolfson as a lead vocalist. It's a very deep and dramatic song, enforced by the beautiful orchestral arrangements. 'I Don't Wanna Go Home' is the classic crazy song in every record of the Project, properly sung by the expressive and theatric Lenny Zakatek.
The second side is even better. 'The Gold Bug' is a very interesting instrumental that goes in crescendo with some instruments being gradually added, like saxophone, haunting voices and synthesisers. It was almost copied in the next album with 'Mammagamma' but this is much more genuine and authentic. The next is a suite of 5 movements. 'The Turn of a Friendly card' is two versions of a beautiful ballad, the first more narrative and the last more dramatic and based in the instruments. 'Snake Eyes' is the most evident song touching the theme of gambling. 'Ace of Swords'is another medieval musical reference to the whole, linking with the gambling theme. It's a very upbeating theme full of quality arrangements by Andrew Powell. And 'Nothing Left to Lose' is a little but wonderful ballad with very warm and consolating lyrics for the "defeated warrior". The end of the album is like pesimistic but with an optimistic look to the future. I don't know if there is really a conclusion to the album, but the feel at the end is a little bitter-sweet. Anyway, this is a masterpiece of symphonic rock and a good one for getting started with the Project, as well as 'Eye in the Sky'.
on October 6, 1999
Everyone raves about "Time" and "Games People Play". They're part of side 1 which is nothing more than a preview of Woolfson's 80s material, not bad but not compelling. Side 2 of this album, however, is the whole Project at it's best and it's one of the best thematic pieces you'll ever hear. It's just too bad there wasn't enough thematic material for two sides, hence my measly 4 star rating. This is probably a more "accesible" album for first time listeners since it combines all the "pop" elements found later in albums like Eye in the Sky and the great thematic elements found in the first three albums (Tales of Mystery and Imagination, I Robot, and Pyramid). That makes it an "easy" choice for new listeners to pick. But if you like this stuff, you'll immediately get sucked into the "heavier" material, not metal heavy, just deeper. But, Side 2 is really hard to beat!
on May 19, 2004
Gambling is a rather odd, albeit contemporary, topic for a collection of music. The (near-)impossibility of winning, the addict, the desparate hope to improve one's position in life the easy way, the downside (i.e. the common one) of games of chance is a thread woven through the vocals with the possible exception of 'Time'. A case can be made for its inclusion, but the excellent lyrics might support various themes.
It was probably included simply because it is so good. It is without doubt one of Parsons best... ever.
Give this one a try.
on August 5, 2003
The Alan Parsons Project's "The Turn Of A Friendly Card," their 1980 observation of the world of gambling, is an outstanding prog-pop album, and one of the group's very best works. In fact, I'd probably park this album right behind "Tales Of Mystery & Imagination" as the group's greatest disc. The music composed by Parsons & Eric Woolfson is simply stunning, the arrangements lush & breathtaking, the performances powerful. "May Be A Price To Pay" is a terrific opener, with singer Elmer Gantry taking you into the casino with this first-rate rocker. You can just see those roulette wheels spinning, the dice being thrown, and the cards being dealt while listening to this song, especially during the dreamy instrumental bridge. "Games People Play," sung by Lenny Zakatek, is a Project classic, another great exuberant rocker and one of the group's biggest hits. Eric Woolfson passionately sings "Time," another Project staple and one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded (and the only song that seems to depart from the album's gambling theme). I dare you not to melt on hearing this exquisite ballad! Zakatek returns to sing "I Don't Wanna Go Home," a terrific, rough & tough song about obsessive gamblers. "The Gold Bug" is a wonderfully hypnotic Project instrumental, and then, finally, there's the epic title suite, containing the songs "Snake Eyes", "Nothing Left To Lose," and the instrumental, "The Ace Of Swords." Sung by both Chris Rainbow & Eric Woolfson, this rock suite contains all the hallmarks of classic Project music: marvelous prog/pop, great orchestrations by Andrew Powell, a shimmering instrumental break, and top-notch performances and production---just like the rest of the album! "The Turn Of A Friendly Card" is a glowing gem from Alan Parsons & company, one of their finest. Getting this album is one gamble you can definitely bet on.
on August 3, 2003
The Turn of a Friendly Card is one of the APP's most solid "concept" albums (about gambling, if you will). "Time" doesn't fit quite as well with this concept as the other tracks unless it's about one's time (or life) being stolen from loved one's by the gambling disease. The song is so beautiful and celestial, however, it is hard to think of it in such mundane terms. Besides the two instrumental tracks ("The Gold Bug" and "The Ace of Swords")being not as memorable as the instrumentals on Eye in the Sky, there is nothing weak on this album. "Games People Play" is one of my all-time favorite APP tracks. It is a fun rocker you can't help but sing along to. The title track is simple and beautiful with some of Woolfson/Parsons' best lyrics ("There are unsmiling faces and bright plastic chains and a wheel of perpetual motion...").
The tracks on the second half of the album seem to be meant to tie in together as the track listing above suggests, however I think the title track and "Nothing Left To Lose" would have sounded better just standing on their own. "Nothing Left To Lose," like "Time," is another beautiful Eric Woolfson-sung track. My only qualm is the hard rocking ending to it (with the music from "Snake Eyes"), which I find rather distracting. Still, it is behind Ammonia Avenue as my second favorite APP album (just above Eye in the Sky and Gaudi). "Time" and "Games People Play" alone make this album worth its weight in "gold bugs" (or casino chips).
on January 6, 2003
When I got this album in late 1980 it didn't seem like a concept album about gambling. Maybe side 2 but not side 1. Although side 2 is good I got hooked on side 1. This album seemed to fit with my life at the time, that's why I liked it. But for an objective listener a "4" rating I would say is generous. Songs like "May be a Price to Pay", "Games People Play", "Time" and "I Don't wanna go home" are catchy tunes that are enjoyable to listen to over and over again in the beginning. But once you're tired of them you may never care to listen to them again, ever. This is a half concept album in my opinion. I don't see much correlation to gambling in the first few songs but don't have a problem with that because I like them more. "Games People Play" starts out with, "Where do we go from here now that all of the children are growing up" may be in reference to baby boomers and/or their parents but that's my opinion. Once again, these songs are catchy, but I don't think it's a Parson's CD you'll enjoy years later like some of his others. I feel like it went with the time though (late 1980, early 1981). So, if you want to get nostalgic, it's a good listen.
on October 17, 2002
It's interesting in reading some of the other reviewers and how they feel sometimes that Parsons has been elevated to a "classic" rating, simply because he attempted to pull off several concept albums. Granted, Parsons is not going to be remembered for being a genius artist; no, but Parsons will be remembered for making the attempt to approach the rock scene from an entirely different angle. His use of orchestrations, electronic effects, mixed vocals and languishing instrumentals is what makes his music so enduring, at least to us diehard fans. I have only been truly disappointed in two of Parsons' albums: the repetitious "Vulture Culture" and the last "Time Machine," which he really didn't have anything to do with.
In "Turn of a Friendly Card," Parsons turned his attention to gambling, and while it doesn't quite mold into the epitome of concept albums, it is strong, and more importantly, melodic and delightful to listen to over and over.
"Time," like "Old and Wise" is a sumptious ballad, soaring and gliding into the ethereal world Parsons so beautifully knows. "Maybe a Price to Pay" is one of those "cinematic" songs that utilizes Parsons' effective use of building familiar themes into haunting reprises. "Snake Eyes" and "Games People Play" are sharp pop-influenced tunes that Parsons wisely used to attract a more universal audience.
How can anyone question his artistic intelligence? Listen to the use of all the instrumentations, his effective mixing of vocal highlights, and you'll truly see why Alan Parsons' albums will be cherished for quite a long time.
Then go to your radio and listen to some of the "music" playing now; there is nothing that comes even close.
on February 12, 2001
This is going to sound weird, but I actually bought this album by just hearing one track and that track was a "B" side track. It was the morning before my work day started and I was relaxing in the darkened bar of the hotel/restaurant where I work when all of a sudden the jukebox starts playing mysteriously the "Goldbug" song. It was really eeiry because if you recall the song, it introduces about four or five instruments, each layered one on top of the other, one at a time(a regular "Project" device), before it crescendos with it's full melody. And so it begins with the whistling, then the drums, the synths, and so on. By the fifth instrument, I realize that the hotel and jukebox aren't haunted and that the box is probably programed to play at intervals. But the point isn't so much my story, but the satisfaction I enjoyed listening to that single Parson ditty. I rushed out that weekend and bought the tape and was never so pleased with any music purchase as I was with that one. And even though the predessor of "Friendly Card:" "Eye In The Sky," was allready released, this tape was what really sold me on Parson's. Much of the original Project music is now dated, but it still sounds great. And I'm certain that Alan Parson's is still recording although I think he dropped the Project in the bands name. I recommend any of his albums, but maybe you won't need my recommendation. Maybe you'll have your own haunted jukebox experience. solo.
on September 6, 2000
It is very rare nowadays to listen to an album that can tell a story or keep a centralized theme without throwing filler garbage into the mix. Alan Parsons avoids this fatal mistake. APP stays true to the gambling theme with Turn Of A Friendly Card. The meaning behind the theme is not just applied to the actual gambling done in casinos but to the chances, mistakes, upfalls and downfalls humanity goes through during everyday personal life !
The beauty of this album is how descriptive it is in both lyrical and instrumental form;There is a mysterious harpsichord sound utilized in one or two tracks. The background gambling sound effects transport the listener to an actual gambling casino or desert oasis (Las Vegas)with some shady gambling patrons.
In addition, there is a sense of not just travelling to a geographical/mental destination but also through time or various historical periods;From castles to casinos,lords to lounge lizards ! This is surely a more accessible album from an understanding point of view of its thematic contents; It will take you on an adventurous journey of the mind.
I'm particularly fond of the instrumental The Gold Bug;It has a subtle "snap-your-fingers" light jazz feel to it with and undertone characteristic similar to Roxy Music...
This is a highly commended and recommended APP staple album for anyone's collection !
on January 14, 1999
If you are not currently an Alan Parsons fan, but you'd like to dabble, I would heartily recommend this album to you. Sometimes due to technology, or music trends, recordings sound 'dated'. Not so with this beautiful, insightful album. Here Alan and Eric take on the concept of gambling; it's highs and lows.
This was the first APP album I ever listened to, and within the first week, I bought all of them. I would guess that having worn out 2 cassette tapes, melted a CD (long story there), and bought this same album a total of 4 times now, there is no doubt, I'm hooked and you will be too.
Many of these songs will probably sound familiar to you, even if you're not a fan yet. There is rarely a sweeter ballad heard than "Time". If you watched sports programs in the 80's than you probably heard "The Ace of Swords". Contemporary radio stations just loved "Games People Play" to death.
But probably the best for me, and the most moving was "Nothing Left to Lose". Find me one person that hasn't felt like that song: "Nothings good, the news is bad..."
Do yourself a favor... If you buy any Alan Parsons CD, BUY this first! You'll be glad you did!