Alan Parsons was an engineer and producer for some of the greatest bands in the world like The Beatles and Pink Floyd before deciding to start his own Project and create remarkable musical soundscapes. Turn of a Friendly Card is his fifth release and in my opinion the last great Alan Parsons Project album.
It begins with a regal and majestic opening, befitting the regal aspect of the face cards in a playing card deck. This leads to the excellent Elmer Gantry sung “May Be a Price to Pay.” Alan has always had a knack of finding the best vocalists to feature on his albums. This record has Gantry, Chris Rainbow and the incomparable Lenny Zakatek.
Zakatek is featured on the two best cuts on Turn of a Friendly Card, “Games People Play” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Home.” “Games People Play” was perhaps the biggest hit off this album and deservedly so. It features excellent harmonies and a repetitive violin section piece that drives the song in a powerful manner. The other great hit here is “Time,” sung by musical partner Eric Woolfson in his most convincing vocal on a Project album. “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” has an almost funky R&B feel to it, while still retaining a symphonic edge (think “Breakdown” from 1977’s I Robot). In addition, there is an intro/outro for the song that is unique and absolutely mesmerizing.
“The Gold Bug” is another of those Parsons instrumentals made popular by endless plays on sports and news programs. Parsons has a knack for writing these kinds of pieces that resonate with those seeking music to feature in movies and TV shows.
The title track is actually an over 16 minute long epic about gamblers and perhaps gambling addiction. It is really more a collection of songs though, strung together by a common theme. Vocalist Chris Rainbow is featured on most of the songs comprising the title piece, with an interlude “Nothing Left to Lose” by Eric Woolfson. This song in particular is interesting for it’s sudden fast paced and uplifting section with a slide guitar solo by the underrated Ian Bairnson.
Although uneven in some spots, songs like “Games People Play,” “I Don’t Wanna Go Home,” and “Snake Eyes” (from “Turn of a Friendly Card”) make this a wonderful addition to the Alan Parsons Project catalog. Get this and all those albums that came before, especially Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Pyramid, and I Robot. An Alan Parsons fan cannot ignore these recordings.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on September 16th, 2010