I have to confess that I bought The Alan Parsons Projects’ Eye in the Sky (35th Anniversary Edition) last year primarily because I am a fan of The Zombies and its lead singer Colin Blunstone who sings on the final track. “Old & Wise” is a beautiful song which The Zombies have been breaking out periodically since reforming in the 21st Century and Colin pretty much owns it as a performance piece.
I purchased the Blu-ray Disc a good three or four months ago and its just sat here, sidelined in the wake of releases by The Beatles, The Kinks, The Band and many other reviews I had to prioritize. So, when The Alan Parsons Projects‘ Eye in the Sky (35th Anniversary Edition) won a Grammy Award for “Best Immersive Audio Album” recently (note how it wasn’t called “surround sound”) I decided it was time to break this high resolution disc open and give it a listen.
Parsons reports: “It was a wonderful experience to hear all the multitrack tape tracks from Eye in The Sky again–and for the first time in nearly 35 years, in their raw unmixed form. Hearing the various elements, performances, and moments of magic that were selected for the final mixes of the songs was an amazing experience… Audiophiles will be pleased to hear the brand new 5.1 Surround Sound mix, which I am extremely pleased with incidentally…”
Indeed, it is a very nice new mix. Mostly keeping the band elements (guitars, bass, drums) to the front channels, the surrounds are used for orchestral and other supportive elements to great effect. Its particularly compelling and immersive on songs like “Silence and I” and the aforementioned “Old & Wise,” what with their lush symphonic passages and such. The 96 kHz, 24-bit audio sounds very warm and appealing which is a nice thing as I’d felt the CD I have had for some time was a bit on the bright side.
The only odd thing I noticed (and it happened a couple times in a row) was that when listening in LPCM surround sound mode, the song “Silence & I” had an unusual volume swell as the orchestration kicks up a notch in the middle of the piece; this did not happen on the DTS HD Master Audio version. So be aware of that possible anomaly — it may just be a disc compatibility quirk on my Oppo UDP-203 universal disc player. As it turned out, I preferred the DTS HD Master Audio version of the mix better anyhow, it sounding somehow a bit more focused and tighter to my ear.
I very much enjoyed the sound on the super high resolution 192 kHz, 24-bit Stereo version of Eye in the Sky (35th Anniversary Edition) which, according to Parsons was “taken from the original analog stereo master tape which was recorded simultaneously alongside the digital mix.” That is a very cool thing for him to have had the engineering foresight in 1982 to make an analog safety mix! This especially at a transitional time when so many were jumping somewhat blindly on the digital bandwagon. Many all digital recordings from that period are unfortunately now stuck in 16-bit fidelity limbo for eternity. Heh, I guess that is why he is Alan Parsons and we are not! Smart man. So, indeed this high resolution transfer of the original 1982 analog mix sounds warmly welcoming in my initial listens. If you have Tidal, Eye In The Sky is streaming there in CD quality; however, it is the expanded edition version so you get to hear numerous bonus tracks (click here for it)
You can pick up the Eye in the Sky (35th Anniversary Edition) very reasonably on Amazon (for under twenty dollars!) or if you are deeper fan, look for the more expansive (and expensive) Eye In The Sky 35th Anniversary Double Vinyl, Box Set which includes the Blu-ray Disc as well as multiple CDs with previously unreleased bonus tracks. That package also includes a two LP version of the album mastered at 45 RPM by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios.
There is a lot of Eye in the Sky joy for audiophile Alan Parson fans these days, no doubt. Congratulations to Mr. Parsons and Mr. Woolfson (RIP) for this long overdue Grammy success!