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From The Bay City Rollers to the Alan Parsons Project

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Remember the great song “Magic” by Pilot?  Well, it was produced by a fellow named Alan Parsons, who, when he came up (along with the late and much missed Eric Woolfson) with an interesting Project, recruited three of the four members of Pilot to play on the first Alan Parsons Project record, Tales of Mystery and Imagination.  They stuck around.  We all know about the great run of albums the Project created, but you may not know the degree to which the long-time core of the band – guitarist Ian Bairnson, bassist David Paton (who, along with Pilot’s late singer Billy Lyall, was in an early version of the Bay City Rollers!), and drummer Stuart MacIntosh (later replaced by Stuart Elliot) – contributed to the sound of a lot of the very finest British popular music of the seventies and eighties.

Notably, some or most of them played on the first few of Kate Bush’s albums, on several of Chris de Burgh’s best albums, and on the soundtrack to the fantasy film Ladyhawke, a soundtrack produced by Alan Parsons and composed by Andrew Powell, who was the arranger and conductor on almost all the Project albums.  If you dig out your old Bush and de Burgh albums and listen again, you will recognize the superb and tight playing of this remarkable rhythm section and appreciate anew that studio musicians really can make or break a record, can class it up (as these guys do) or drag it down. 

It Doesn’t End There

Check out also the other work done by various members of the Project, including their connections with the great English progressive band Camel and their one-off side project, the band and album simply called Keats.  If you are fond of the Parsons sound, you will be delighted to find that it wasn’t confined to albums that bore that great producer’s name.

 
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