Rhinofy-Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Find the end of the rainbow
Fly wherever the winds blow
Laugh at life like a sideshow
Just what you need to make you feel better

John Miles never broke through in America, but he’s a star in my book, because he sings lead on “(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether”!


Once upon a time Alan Parsons was unknown. And his initial LP didn’t help his condition. Released on 20th Century Fox in two different incarnations, it made not a dent, no one cared that Parsons was a famous engineer, and 20th Century Fox was a noted entity in the film business, but nearly irrelevant and certainly inept in music. As a result, Ambrosia’s first album was nearly buried, it too came out on 20th Century Fox, is that why the band ended up playing on Parsons’s opus? I DON’T KNOW!

I didn’t know much. By time the second iteration of the LP was released, it featured only an illustration of Mr. Parsons and almost nothing more. The details evaporated with the rarely seen gatefold cover the album was released with first.

And lord only knows what inspired me to buy it. I found the album in the promo bin at my favorite record store on Gayley, in Westwood, and at two bucks I took a flyer. I ended up buying five copies, I gave them away, just like I did with Karla Bonoff’s debut, which I discovered the same way.


The album starts off with an instrumental, almost the whole second side is instrumental, you can ignore it if you choose, you won’t be missing much.

But the second cut is this, “The Raven.”

That’s the right, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, it featured the same moniker as Poe’s 1908 collection.


Thus quote the raven, you remember that from high school, don’t you?

Actor Leonard Whiting performs the main vocal, Parsons appears on vocorder and Eric Woolfson does the backups. The end result is majestic, positively cinematic.

It starts off quietly. With a thumping bass that resembles nothing so much as a heartbeat.

And then the track starts to build. It’s like you’re descending into a dark basement, apprehensive, and then the world starts to spin, you’re on an adventure that’s only yours, you’ve left the world behind.

It’s not a single, it’s not a hit, it’s something better…an album cut speaking only to you. From a concept album, back when you needed an entire LP to tell your story.


Arthur Brown! That’s right, from the “CRAZY WORLD OF”!

By this time he was a has-been, only famous for his 1968 super-smash “Fire.”

And befitting its vocalist, “The Tell-Tale Heart” starts off on a tear, there’s no subtlety involved.

But it does get quiet in the middle, with strings and moodiness, reflectiveness, but then the whole concoction starts to pulse and tear once again.

Louder and louder
Till I could tell the sound was not within my ears
You should have seen me
You would have seen my eyes grow white and cold with fear

Only Arthur Brown could convey this scariness, and if he was frightened…you should be too!

Perfect casting. Classic.


I read the short story in sophomore English class, Mrs. Hurley dared someone to do it, while holding a lit candle in the darkness.

The problem was there was not quite enough time, so I ended up rushing and sacrificing dramatic effect in order to finish.

Funny what you remember…

But as a result I’ve never forgotten the word “amontillado,” although John Miles pronounces it differently.

The track is lyrical, melodic, it has movements.

Funny how punk was launched at the same time.

But it was possible to love bombast as well as simplicity.

I certainly did.


The first side closer, the single. The tour-de-force.

How did Alan Parsons come up with such greatness, a near-masterpiece?

He switched labels, on Arista he started to have hits.

But his initial failure tarnished his inspiration. He was always a bit cautious thereafter, never quite as out there, never quite as adventurous. If you listen to one Alan Parsons album, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” is it.

And you should.

Then you’ll know what the seventies were like. When nobody sounded quite the same and everybody was testing limits. When you broke the shrinkwrap and you never knew what you would encounter. When you couldn’t wait to turn your friends on to your favorites. When music still drove the culture. When you sang songs in your head because they inspired you.

I still sing “Doctor Tarr.” It pops into my head at the strangest moments.


Rhinofy-Tales of Mystery and Imagination

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