Alan Parsons delivered a detailed blueprint for his Project on their 1975 debut, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, but it was on its 1977 follow-up, I Robot, that the outfit reached its true potential. Borrowing not just its title but concept from Isaac Asimov's classic sci-fi Robot trilogy, this album explores many of the philosophies regarding artificial intelligence - will it overtake man, what does it mean to be man, what responsibilities do mechanical beings have to their creators, and so on and so forth - with enough knotty intelligence to make it a seminal text of late-'70s geeks, and while it is also true that appreciating I Robot does require a love of either sci-fi or art rock, it is also true that sci-fi art rock never came any better than this…
The Alan Parsons Project is a "project" of acclaimed English producer Alan Parsons, best known for his works as an engineer with with names such as the Beatles (Abbey Road, the Get Back roofttop concert) and Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon, Atom Heart Mother). Along with songwriter Eric Woolfson, Parsons created a series of 10 (and counting) albums of progressive rock, employing a rotating cast of session musicians to do most of the performing (Parsons does play keyboard and sings on some tracks.). He creates the concept, writes some of the music and hires the artists, while Woolfson writes the lyrics, some of the music and sings on many tracks.
36 tracks are collected on this expansive compilation album from these prog rockers, which is a neat way to review their impressive career.
Following the success of her 2011 album, Diva Divo, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato presents an exciting collection of virtuosic arias in her 2012 release on Virgin, Drama Queens. Drawing on royal roles in Baroque operas by Handel, Monteverdi, and Haydn, as well as selections from such minor composers as Orlandini, Porta, Keiser, Hasse, Cesti, and Giacomelli, DiDonato demonstrates both her impressive vocal abilities and a wide range of characterizations. Supported by the period ensemble Il Complesso Barocco, conducted by Alan Curtis, DiDonato sings with dynamic power and exquisite embellishments, executing runs and ornaments with sparkling brilliance and projecting her voice with ease. But even more important than her technical prowess is her charismatic presentation of these 17th and 18th century opera heroines, whose passionate emotions and exaggerated behavior are wonderfully realized in DiDonato's dramatic interpretations. Since Baroque opera has become something of a specialized interest of early music connoisseurs, DiDonato's album is a welcome introduction for listeners less familiar with this period, and her faithful performances make the era come to life with appealing freshness and vitality.