Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Eye in the Sky by Parralox

You can tell a lot about an artist by who they cover when they decide to do tribute albums.  Two of my favorite Australian synthpop artists recently both did tribute albums; relative newcomers Parralox and still-chugging old-timers from the 80s Real Life.  Here's the tracklist for the Parralox album, according to Discogs:

  1. "In the Night Two" (originally by The Pet Shop Boys)
  2. "Eye in the Sky" (originally by Alan Parsons Project)
  3. "Headhunter" (originally by Front 242)
  4. "Touched by the Hand of God" (originally by New Order)
  5. "Kebabträume" (originally by DAF)
  6. "A Forest" (originally by The Cure)
  7. "Somebody" (originally by Depeche Mode)
  8. "The Day Before You Came" (originally by ABBA)
  9. "Blind Vision" (originally by Blancmange)
  10. "Physical Attraction" (originally by Madonna)
  11. "Silent Morning" (originally by Noel)
  12. "A Little Respect" (originally by Erasure)
  13. "The Model" (originally by Kraftwerk)
  14. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (originally by Joy Division)

When I bought it from Amazon as an mp3 download, I had a slightly different tracklist; it also adds "Heaven" (originally by Depeche Mode), "The Number One Song in Heaven" (originally by Sparks) and "I Love You Too Much" (originally by The Bee Gees) but lacks "Kebabträume", "A Forest", and "The Day Before You Came."

Either way, one thing that's fairly obvious is that their influences, and those whom they chose to cover, represent a fairly broad and somewhat eclectic mix of artists from the 70s, 80s and 90s.  Many of the old-fashioned 80s New Wave synthpop artists are not unexpected, but some of the other 80s pop (Madonna, Alan Parsons Project, etc.) are a little surprising, and songs by artists like Noel and Sparks are a bit on the esoteric side.  It's interesting to see what they did with the songs too; even though the original of "Eye in the Sky" is not a synthpop song, or even an electronic music song of any kind at all, for that matter, it still sounds surprisingly faithful, for instance.  "Headhunter" on the other hand, is toned down a bit; rather than sounding like a harsh EBM track, it is rendered as a danceable synthpop song.

Although John von Ahlen has done vocals before for Parralox, he does quite a bit more than normal on this album, and regular vocalist Amie Mann (who, given the release of the new single "Crying on the Dancefloor" may have parted ways with John and left the band, from the looks of things) appears more as a cameo than anything else.

Anyway, I'll talk about the Real Life cover album another time (this post is already getting lengthier than is my wont for music posts) but for now let me just say that it's a bit more focused on a time-frame and genre than the Parralox album, although there is certainly a fair bit of overlap in terms of artists covered (Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order, etc.) although they also have a few surprises, and interestingly, they both cover Kraftwerk's "The Model."  They also covered themselves and released a new version of "Send Me an Angel" which is pretty good, although not really substantially different from the 1989 version, really.  The album also features the 1983 version, though, which is otherwise a bit tricky to rundown in the States.

For now, here's "Eye in the Sky" by Parralox.  Sadly, this version doesn't feature the "Sirius" opener, which Alan Parson's Project sometimes did.  Parralox has a version of the song that does.

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