Song of the Day, May 22: (The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether by the Alan Parsons Project

ParsonsTarrWhen engineer, producer, and musician Alan Parsons started working with producer, manager, and songwriter Eric Woolfson, their first project was something Woolfson had wanted to do for a while. The pair built a concept album around the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, creating musical pieces based on several of his stories. Tales of Mystery and Imagination shares its title with a collection of Poe stories, and the Parsons / Woolfson collaboration — ably abetted by the orchestrations of Andrew Powell — does an amazing job of capturing the spirit of his work.

The band they assembled included the lineups of Ambrosia and Pilot, two groups Parsons had produced, along with many other talented musicians. Parsons and Woolfson carefully paired different vocalists with each track to make the most of the songs and their macabre narratives. For Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether, they brought in two versatile singers, John Miles and Jack Harris. Over an eerie backdrop of churning guitars and found effects, the pair construct a brilliant sonic version of the Poe story. It’s a testament to the talents involved that a fairly strange song about the lunatics literally taking over the asylum managed to crack the T0p 40.

It’s got “just what you need to make you feel better,” so enjoy this classic bit of Parsons / Woolfson genius today.


About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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