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Tales Of Mystery & Imagination

160 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Weaving synths, glockenspiel and guitar with vocoder, boys choir and even Orson Welles narration, producer Parsons brilliantly interpreted the chilling works of Edgar Allan Poe on this 1976 LP. The Project's first release, it went Top 40 and notched hits with (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether and The Raven ; here's the 1976 album and 1987 remix plus demos, unreleased "experiments" and more bonus material!

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As unlikely as the idea seems today to use the suspense-filled stories of Edgar Allan Poe as the basis for an album of rock tunes, listeners in the 1970s--who were barraged with such high-flown concepts during the heyday of prog-rock--turned the record into a major hit. The Project actually scored a Top 40 hit with "(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Feather." Thanks to FM radio overplay, however, "The Raven" is probably the album's best-known track today. The 1987 CD version of "ToMaI" differs somewhat from the original vinyl. Parsons dropped in synthesizer parts to modernize the album, and added an opening recitation by Orson Welles. But the integrity of the original is maintained well enough, and the album remains a classic excuse to dim the lights, pour a glass of sherry (amontillado, natch), and break out the headphones. --Daniel Durchholz


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. A Dream Within A Dream (1987 Remix) 4:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. The Raven (1987 Remix) 3:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. The Tell-Tale Heart (1987 Remix) 4:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. The Cask Of Amontillado (1987 Remix) 4:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. (The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether (1987 Remix) 4:20$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. The Fall Of The House Of Usher: Prelude (1987 Remix) 7:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. The Fall Of The House Of Usher: Arrival (1987 Remix) 2:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. The Fall Of The House Of Usher: Intermezzo (1987 Remix) 1:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. The Fall Of The House Of Usher: Pavane (1987 Remix) 4:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. The Fall Of The House Of Usher: Fall (1987 Remix)0:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. To One In Paradise (1987 Remix) 4:46$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mercury
  • ASIN: B000001FN3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,648 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Schtinky VINE VOICE on March 16, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Forget about the pop songs that Alan Parsons made later in the 80's, this is a completely different approach to music. I'm not even a diehard Alan Parsons fan but this is truly a masterpiece of effort and inventiveness.
Parsons decided to take the works of Edgar Allen Poe and put them to music, and I don't think it could have been done better. Poe has always been one of my favorite writers, allowing me to sift through a human mind on its decline through the many layers of madness. Heavy use of synthesizers creates a fantasy world full of the moods and emotions Poe used in his writing.
Dream Within A Dream is an instrumental, nearly classical piece, with an introductory reading by Orson Wells, a slow heavy beat of drums and bass joined by keyboards reminiscent of a harpsichord and choir type vocal accompaniment. The synthesized riffs are vaguely similar to the Priest's theme from The Exorcist, an apt association of dread for this moody piece.
Dream Within A Dream blends smoothly into The Raven, probably the most popular piece on this album. It is masterpiece of Poe's famous poem set to music, with the vocals eerily sang using a vocoder, and the choir accompaniment in the background. The synthesizer brings out more horn sounds, and the music, while still eerie, has a more triumphant and powerful sound to it than Dream.
The Tell Tale Heart starts out with a scream of derangement, and brings the album into its rock genre with a faster, pounding beat and more guitar than keyboard. The vocals are purposefully stressed into a pitch that expertly portrays the lunacy of the murderer's descent into madness as the old man's beating heart refuses to stop its tormenting clamor, and incorporates some of the actual lines from Poe's unforgettable tale of unleashed insanity.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Themis-Athena on January 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I'll never forget the first work by Edgar Allan Poe I ever read: it was "The Tell-Tale Heart," and Poe's short story about a madman who kills and dismembers an old man by whose "evil eye" he feels haunted soon outgrew the high school class assignment it had originally been for me; and the narrator's nightmares began to haunt me, too. (Yes, I was an impressionable 16-year-old, but Poe really *was* the master of horror for all ages.) Alan Parsons's rendition of the story on the third track of "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" does full justice to its sense of lunacy masquerading as clairvoyance, and the urgency of the narrator's acts, driven by the sound of the old man's beating heart, hidden below the floor boards of his room, and symbolized here by the steady bass and drum beat underlying the entire track - except for the deceptively serene bridge ("And he won't be found at all, not a trace to mark his fall nor a stain upon the wall"), after which it returns with all the greater force, accentuated by the grating sound of an electric guitar which, along with the bassline and drums, causes some to describe this song as more of a traditional rock song than the other parts of this album.

The album starts with an instrumental based on the poem "Dream Within a Dream," and the brief Poe quote from 1846's "Marginalia" (where "Dream Within a Dream" was also published), spoken by Orson Welles and added only on 1987's remastered CD. In many ways, this quote sets the theme for the entire album, and for Poe's work in general: "There is ... a class of fancies of exquisite delicacy which are not thoughts ... These fancies arise in the soul, alas how rarely ... at those weird points of time, where the confines of the waking world blend with the world of dreams. ...
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By joe_n_bloe on May 25, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Tales of Mystery and Imagination is the first "project" by Alan Parsons, the most adventurous, one of the best, and at the time intended to be the only. With a strong Edgar Allan Poe concept (taking even its title from Poe), Tales leads you through a first "side" of loosely connected songs and a second of longer form quasi-orchestral material. The album as a whole is strong and bears up well under repeated listening. It isn't as cohesive as later APP efforts but that isn't necessarily a fault.
As an owner of the original album, I was happy to see it remastered and re-released on CD (many years ago) but I didn't think that the remixing and inserted material were an improvement. The Orson Welles narrative was fine but the other changes weren't particularly to my liking, and they still aren't. Nevertheless, this album remains a progressive rock landmark, and its boldness and enduring success merit a top rating.
My favorite has always been the spooky, ethereal "The Raven," which captures perfectly the metaphysical foreboding of one of Poe's best-known poems.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Alan Caylow on January 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD
1976's "Tales Of Mystery & Imagination," a concept album based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, is the album that started it all for the great studio group known as The Alan Parsons Project, and it arguably remains their best work (even Alan Parsons himself names it as his personal favorite Project album). "Tales" is a spellbinding prog-rock classic, filled to the brim with outstanding drama, moods, sounds & atmospheres, as well as tremendous musicianship, singing, songwriting, & production. Who'd expect anything less from a group led by the man who engineered the Pink Floyd classic, "Dark Side Of The Moon"?The opening instrumental, "A Dream Within A Dream," is an astonishing slice of dramatic progressive rock that instantly grabs you, and it sets up the rest of the album perfectly. "The Raven," "The Tell-Tale Heart" (featuring wonderfully insane vocals by Arthur Brown), "The Cask Of Amontillado," & the Project's first hit, "(The System Of) Doctor Tarr & Professor Fether," are all Project classics. Then comes the album's centerpiece, the sprawling, adventurous instrumental take on "The Fall Of The House Of Usher," complete with orchestra & sound effects. It's simply a mindblower. Finally, the album concludes with "To One In Paradise," a truly gorgeous song that leaves you breathless. This CD version of "Tales" is the 1987 remix version, in which Alan Parsons added some extra keyboard & guitar parts, as well as a pair of marvelous narration pieces by Orson Welles, in order to strengthen the album for it's 1987 CD release (not too unlike what George Lucas did to his "Star Wars" movies for their 1997 re-release).Read more ›
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