Ask Andrew

This is the section of the website where you can submit questions to Andrew about his work. We will regularly post answers to questions submitted here that we feel are of interest to fans. Below are the most recent questions and answers. As we receive and answer more questions, we will archive them here also. Please use the form at the bottom of the page to submit your questions.

Question-Orchestra used for First Live APP Concert

Cecilia from the USA submitted the following enquiry:

Hello,

I've followed Alan Parsons Project music for years and even listen to most of their songs. One of my favorites is Games People Play. That said, on the Alan Parsons first concert ever, part 5 on YouTube.com, Alan Parsons starts to introduce the rest of the band, then he introduced you and lastly, he introduced the orchestra. What is or was, the name of that orchestra that you were conducting??

Answer

Hello Cecilia.

The Orchestra was the Symphony Orchestra of the Flemish Opera.

Andrew

Question-Arrangement Approach

Balaclava from Spain submitted the following enquiry:

Dear Andrew,

Most of your work is related to orchestrations but I'd like to know if, when working on a rock album you are (usually) just in charge of writing orchestral arrangements and conducting classical instruments or if you are also asked to arrange the 'rock musicians' too (singers included) when there's a band plus an orchestra.

I guess it must depend on the artist and the album, but could you please give some detail about the general process of your work? I mean if usually the band is/was given a few days/hours to prepare some arrangements so you would later help them polish or add/change things, then prepare any music scores for the band (does that ever happen?), work out the orchestral arrangements once the basic track is laid down or nearly since the very moment a demo for a song is approved for recording, etc.

It seems to me that with artists like Al Stewart, Kansas, Ambrosia, Chris de Burgh or John Miles, the 'rock' arrangements were made by the respective bands (or backing band), so you added the orchestral arrangements later on and that was all, more ore less, while others such as The Hollies, Leo Sayer, Elaine Page or Kate Bush may have hired you to overally arrange the full thing from scratch.

I'm sorry if this evolving into a series of questions (I hope you can link it all and answer succintly if you want), but actually it's now that I'm getting on to what intrigues me the most, that is, whether with The Alan Parsons' Project your arrangements somehow involved the ones by the rock musicians or if in those albums you just worked with the orchestra and choir with finished backing tracks, with little or no involvement at all in the songs that didn't feature any 'classic' instrumentation? I guess the 'Ladyhawk' soundtrack was fully arranged by you, or perhaps it included some ideas from other musicians in the studio...

Maybe is your participation in the arrangements one of the things that make The Alan Parsons' Project sound so different to Pilot despite having some core musicians (and producer) in common? I don't expect an answer in detail to these sub-questions (except if you feel like giving it), I'm rather asking about your own methodology, process and approach to arranging for an album, and a bit of general advice about good working methodologies and attitudes, perhaps dos and donts you may have experienced yourself...

Being a musician myself I feel that once you know the song is good, arrangements are essential to make it great, but dealing with the arrangements can be one of those sensitive matters that can make musicians' egos gel together or come apart, so I'd just like to know a bit about how you work it all out. Sorry if I went on too long but I've been wondering about this for years.

I'm a huge fan of yours since an early age. Your orchestral and choral arrangements have always been an enormous inspiration for me, and in a time when most musicians are more obsessed with recording than interested in arranging I'd love to know a bit more about the scope of your work. Thank you very much for your music and keep on going, Mr Powell!

Answer

Thanks for your very long questions, Balaclava!

Yes, I often do also write parts for the rock players and singers - with the list you give, I was presented with finished backing tracks by John Miles, Al Stewart and Ambrosia, but with both Kansas and Chris de Burgh I was very much involved in the band’s arrangements (I was also the producer on those two albums.) The Hollies and Leo Sayer also gave me finished tracks, but with both Kate and Elaine I was heavily involved in the band parts.

With the APP, I was usually only involved in the tracks with orchestra, although there were some tracks I played on as well. I was much more involved with the group arrangements for the Alan Parsons records post-Woolfson; and yes, many of the musical; cues for "Ladyhawke” had fully written out band parts. One reason that Pilot sound different from the APP tracks is that their songs were written variously by David, Billy and Ian, not Alan and Eric!

As far as a “methodology” is concerned - I don’t really have one. Every song and artist is different, and needs a different approach. I have been asked before how I get my ideas for arrangements, and I can’t really explain it - it just happens when I absorb myself in the song - there is no set or pre-conceived method.

Andrew

Question-Unreleased Kate Bush Track

Karen from Canada submitted the following enquiry:

Hello,

I read somewhere that you worked with Kate Bush on an unreleased title track from the album Never for Ever. What happened to the song 'Never for Ever'? Will you ever release it?

Karen

Answer

Dear Karen,

Yes, you are right to say that I did work on a song called "Never for Ever" with Kate, but not on the album of that name. We recorded the song during the sessions for the album "Lionheart." It was a beautiful song - and one of my favourite orchestral arrangements of any that I did for Kate - but she was never really happy with her vocal performance on the song. A great shame. So it was never released. She obviously liked the title, as she used it for the next album! It's not up to me to release it - you would have to ask Kate or her record company about that.

Andrew

Question-Working with Geoff Emerick

Nicola from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

In the your long and renowned career at first sight there are at least three people who have appeared repeatedly in your work: Geoff Emerick; Tim Rice and especially Jon Kelly. Could you tell me something about these three characters and your relationship with them ? There is some evidence audio or video of the TIM RICE'S CONCERT SPECTACULAR where you are arranger and orchestral conductor?
Ciao

Answer

Ciao, Nicola.

This is in fact three questions, each of which which could take a long time to answer! So I'm just going to talk about Geoff Emerick first, and I'll get on to Tim Rice next week. After that I will talk about Jon Kelly.

I will start with Geoff Emerick: I first met him in 1973, when I was working on Cockney Rebel's debut album "The Human Menagerie." As I'm sure you know, Geoff had been the engineer on the Beatles albums "Revolver", " Sgt. Pepper", much of the White Album, and "Abbey Road" - as well as "Band on the Run" and countless other top class records. It was both a pleasure and an honour to work with him - he really enjoyed the album, and did, of course, a fantastic job as engineer - the record still sounds great! I later worked with him when I co-produced David Courtney's first solo album "First Day". (David had been the composer for Leo Sayer's first 2 albums, as well as Roger Daltrey's first solo abum.) Working with him as producer was even more fascinating - he gets sounds in a most unusual way sometimes - if you listen to some of his "close" microphones (the snare drum, or the trumpets in the orchestra, for example) they sound very odd. But the overall sound is coming from somewhere else - these mikes just give top or attack to the sound - the full, round sound comes from distant overhead mikes. I worked with him again when David Gilmour asked me to produce 3 tracks for Kate Bush: the vocal sound on "The Man With the Child in His Eyes" I still rate as the best vocal sound I've ever heard from Kate. He was also responsible for recording and mixing "The Saxophone Song" on "The Kick Inside." The last time we worked together (although we do meet up whenever possible for dinner - we both enjoy good food) was on an advert for the AA, using the Carole King song "You"ve Got a Friend." The director wanted to record the choir walking up the steepest hill the the Lake District (Scafell Pike) with no backing track and no conductor! We then had to add the group (Tim Renwick on guitar, Laurence Cottle on Bass, Stuart Elliott on Drums, and myself on Keyboard) back at Abbey Road Studio 2, and put the Philharmonia Orchestra and Choir on a few days later in studio 1. Because the agency wanted to use a whole verse and chorus of the song (and wanted a 60 second advert) I had to almost re-write the song - cutting out half a beat from one bar, a whole one from the next, then maybe two and a half from another - or it would have been at a ridiculously fast tempo. Luckily it seemed the Carole King (who had always refused to allow this song to be used for a commercial) liked it, so it was approved. She had apparently only been convinced to give her clearance in the beginning because Geoff was producing it - she said "Oh, in that case it'll sound great." It did. One of the more unusual effects on it (a typical bizarre Geoff Emerick experiment) was: Geoff placed 3 metal dustbins amongst the orchestra, and put pencil cardioid mikes in them (AKG 451s, I think) which had the effect of acting like a filter, and enhancing certain odd frequencies of the orchestral sound - making an odd resonance to the bass end of the orchestra. An interesting, unusual and very original effect, I thought.

Andrew

Question-Orchestrations on Ambrosia "Somewhere I Never Travelled" album

Kenny from the USA submitted the following enquiry:

Please share your inspiration for the beautifully crafted orchestrations on "Cowboy Star".

Answer

Dear Kenny,

Thank you for your email, and your compliment about my arrangement of "Cowboy Star". I've always liked "Somewhere I've Never Travelled" - it was an really enjoyable album to work on, because the group had so many unusual and interesting musical ideas. With the track "Cowboy Star" - some of the musical imagery was already suggested to me in the lyrics and the style of the song: my arrangement drew on old Hollywood Western scores and also, to a certain extent, some of Aaron Copland's music. I had quite a large orchestra at my disposal (including the rather unusual, for an orchestra, banjo and harmonica) so this put a large palette of musical colours into my hands. Obviously I had discussions with David and Joe before starting work on the writing. Most of the score was written in my hotel room in Los Angeles, but we recorded the orchestra at London's Abbey Road Studios, and David came over to England (his first, but not last, visit to Europe) for the recording sessions.

 

Question-work with Leonard Whiting

Laura from the USA submitted the following enquiry:

Are any of your work with Leonard Whiting available? If so, how does one procure it?

Answer

Dear Laura,

Thank you for your question. I did quite a lot of work with Leonard early in my career. I spent some time in 1971 transcribing several songs which he had written, and then went into the studio with him and a rather good group of session musicians (including Mike Moran on piano, Paul Keogh on guitar, Barry de Souza on drums, and myself on bass) to do some demos of the songs. The session was, interestingly enough, produced by Nick Mason, the Pink Floyd's drummer, who was a friend of mine. I don't know what happened to the tapes. Leonard was later brought in to sing on the first Alan Parsons Project album "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" - on the song "The Raven."  This is the only recording which is available, so far as I know. I subsequently recorded the title song for the tour of a play called "A Touch of Spring" with Leonard on vocals and myself on Spanish Guitar. Also lost, I fear. After the APP sessions I went into AIR studios with Leonard to make some master tracks. We had some good songs, from David Courtney, Roger Cook, and Leonard himself. Unfortunately he fell out with Eric Woolfson, who was paying for the sessions, so nothing ever happened to the tapes - although they were almost finished - with quite a large orchestra and a good bunch of rhythm section players. I doubt whether they will ever see the light of day, which is a shame.

Question-Andrew's travels to Toyko

Chihiro from Japan submitted the following enquiry:

I'm sorry it would be stupid question.

Mr. Powell has ever come to Japan in march 1984?
It was for Tokyo Music Festival producing Limahl.
I think I met him. He was with Mr. Roger Taylor of Queen.
I remember he was very kind. If Mr. Powell is the person I met, I want say "Thank you" to him.

Answer

Thank you for your question - and, no, it’s not a stupid one! The answer is - yes, I was in Tokyo in March 1984 with Limahl - and Queen were there at the same time promoting their single “Radio Ga-ga.” I had been to Japan several times before (and since!) - the first time was with Kate Bush, also for the Tokyo Music Festival in 1978.

Question-John Miles' Music Score

Fiona from the UK submitted the following enquiry:

Hi there! I help to run a Music Camp for young people to develop their music abilities and perform together as groups.  We run an orchestra session, and I would absolutely love to play John Miles "Music" - it brings back such fond memories for me, as I used to play it with a youth orchestra when I was 9 (about 30 years ago!).  I am really struggling to find a full score online, and have limited access to music shops in my area.  I was wondering if such a score existed, and if you had any ideas where I might be able to purchase please?  It is such an amazing piece of music, and when played in an orchestra with vocals, guitars, drums etc. is just a joy!

Answer

Dear Fiona, Thank you for your email. I'm afraid that you will struggle to find a score online - or in any music stores. As far as I know, the music was never printed (or if it was, it would have been done only in the form of a voice and piano arrangement). So, I'm sorry but I can't really help you with this one. I don't have a digitised copy of it either. I wish you luck!

Question-Ladyhawke Score

Jackie from the UK submitted the following enquiry:

I've recently obtained the Ladyhawke CD and it's brought back amazing memories from my teens when I first fell in love with the film, the music and Rutger Hauer. Where can I get the score from please as I'd love to be able to play it on my piano? Thank you.

Kym from Austrailia submitted a similar quesion:

I have loved Ladyhawke since it was first released and have a copy of the soundtrack.I would love to get a copy of sheet music either for the main theme or the Renunion/end title tracks. Are the sheets available?? Would love to be able to play.

Answer

Hello Jackie and Kym,

I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the new Ladyhawke CD - it took a while to track down all of the old tapes, but I thought it was worth it for the end result. As far as a printed score is concerned, there was only ever one "cue" from the film actually printed - and I never saw a copy! It was in an album, published I believe by Warner/Chappell (but I'm not 100% sure about this) of "20 (or 25) Movie Themes. They printed the Main Titles. Apart from this, I'm afraid that I can't help you. Sorry...

Andrew

Question-Arrangements

Eduardo from the USA submitted the following enquiry:

Dear Andrew,

Since my teenage years, my favorite hobby has been to listen to good music. My favorite songs include Music (John Miles), Year of the Cat & Time Passages (Al Stewart), the Turn of a Friendly Card Part II & Silence and I (The Alan Parsons Project), and The Air that I Breathe (The Hollies). The kernel of the love I have for such songs lies in the magical instrumental work they have. I already listened thousands of times to the French horn, cello, and sax in those songs, I never get tired! Thousands of times more to come... As I learned over the years, you are the "magician" behind such instrumental works. I could try to described the joy I have when listen to instrumental portion of the "Year of the Cat" when you combine cello, guitar, sax, and many cellos, violins and violas in the background, but probably I will not match what you felt when you made such arrangement. The song "The Turn of a Friendly Card Part 2" is my favorite of them all: The instrumental work with the guitar, French horn, and violins is "from heaven." I just mentioned a few songs, and they all are from many years ago: Still, no other songs (older or newer) come close. I just would like you to know that your work has been an inspiration for many years in my life, and also to thank you for your hard and inspired work!
Eduardo

Answer

Dear Eduardo,

thank you for your kind words - it's very good to hear that the work one does really means that much to people. I'm glad that you enjoy the records you mention. However, I must point out that I did not do the arrangement for The Hollies' record "The Air that I Breathe". I did do one record with them - a song called "Boulder to Birmingham", but not this one. I agree with you, however, that it's a very good record!

Question-Orchestra's on first 3 APP albums

Larry from the USA submitted the following enquiry:

The Mel Collins ?? sax solo at the end of Old and Wise is one of those special pieces that you wish would just never end...and no other rendition seems to match it. When I listen to it, I'm always turning up the volume louder and louder as the music fades in hopes of eeking out every bit of it! How much longer did the solo go beyond what can be heard on the album and where can one find the longest version available.... I would love to hear where that sax leads to as the music went on! Thank You for this very informative and entertaining site.

Answer

The answer is that it definitely did go on longer than the fade on the album, but I can no longer remember exactly how long. It was a very good solo...

Andrew

Question-Orchestras on first 3 APP albums

Carlos from Spain submitted the following enquiry:

Hi from Madrid! It is a really pleasure to talk yo you. I have all APP albums(remastered). I would like to know the name of the orchestra used in Tales, Robot and Pyramid. The booklets dont mention it. The only thing I could read is that someone unidentified from the london philharmonia played an ancient woodwind instrument in song In the lap of God. Does it mean THE PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA? In my opinion The APP is the best band mixing rock and orchestra. About one year ago I started to search for more groups in this genre. Somehow and because of your wonderful arrangements I discovered great new bands for my ears and masterpieces albums: Procol Harum And The Edmonton Symphonny Orchestra, Caravan and The New Symphonia, Atom Heart Mother(Pink Floyd), Barclay James Harvest(1st and 2nd album), Rick Wakeman (Journe to ...; The Myths....), Renaissance(scheherazade),The Enid (birmingham Orchestra), David Palmer (Genesis, YEs), Camel (Snow Goose), Eric Clapton with Michael Kamen,E.L.O.,The NIce (five bridges) , Frank Zappa,etc...
Would you recommend any other artist?

Many, many thanks. Your music has been with me since 1986.
Best wishes,
Carlos

Answer

Dear Carlos,

Thanks for your question. The orchestra used on the first three alan Parsons Project albums was not a named orchestra, but a contracted one: booked by a "fixer", in this case a man called David Katz, who would phone up the best musicians from any London-based orchestra who were free on that day. Some of the players would have done nothing but "sessions" - recordings for films and rock albums, and not been in any orchestra. I would always discuss with David which sort of player I needed for each instrument. I'm not sure where the credit about the wooden flute comes from - there is actually no such orchestra as the "London Philharmonia"!

I think that your list of bands who work with orchestras is very thorough. I'm not sure I can think of many more!

Andrew

Question-Al Stewart's Peter On The White Sea

Andrea from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

Hello Andrew, since I'm a huge fan of APP and Al Stewart, I'd like to ask you about the song you, David Pack and Al wrote called "Peter On The White Sea", released on his 1993 album "Famous Last Words". I think this song is beautiful and is one of my favourite of the whole Al Stewart catalogue, so I wonder when it was written (if you remember at least the year), what brought you, Al and David together, and how the three of you composed the song...I'm pretty sure the lyrics are Al's own, but what about the music? Thank you for everything you could tell me about this wonderful song.

Answer

Dear Andrea,

Thank you for your question. I have always really liked this song. I was working with David Pack on several other tunes ( one of which appeared on the "Try Anything Once album of Alan Parsons), and he played me the beginnings of this one. I thought it was very promising. I was staying at Al Stewart's house in Bel Air at the time, and mentioned the song to him - and played him a taster of it. He suggested that we should invite David around, and all work on it together. We did - the three of us sat around Al's piano all afternoon... Al wrote all of the lyrics, (although this was done at a later stage), and some of the musical ideas were his as well. I think this would have been in 1992.

Question-Orchesteral APP Contributions and more

Nicola from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

Ciao Andrew,

More questions for you. Throughout the "Project" period, you have been involved mostly in the choir and orchestral parts in the songs or your contribution to these was larger? For example: you gave advice to Eric and Alan? You have composed pieces of music that you do not then have been credited etc etc.?
After "the Project", as Stuart Elliott and Ian Bairnson you followed a solo career of Alan: maybe you would find it more interesting? What do you consider to be the best work of Alan Post Project and why? Have you heard "A valid path"? what do you think? If you had to come back to produce a record with which artist would you like to do today? What music do you usually listen to? ...and finally, when you open the "shop" of your site?
Thanks in advance for your answers. Regards.

Answer

Ciao Nicola,

Well, as you probably know on the first two albums, "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" and "I, Robot" my contributions as a composer were acknowledged. I was listed as co-writer on "The Fall of the House of Usher" and as sole writer on "Total Eclipse." It may well be obvious to people who know my style well that I did, in fact, contribute more than orchestral and choral arrangements to several of the subsequent albums, although these contributions weren't credited to me. Examples would be "In the Lap of the Gods" from Pyramid (I suggested to Eric that the choir should sing words at the end - he hadn't thought of that) - and also the opening of the "Eve" album (the orchestral introduction to "Lucifer") and an even more obvious example would be the whole orchestral middle section from "Silence and I." If you heard the track I was given, it was just a chord sequence, with none of the melodies which I wrote over it... There are many other examples! I don't really know why I didn't bother to push for credits - one reason may have been that I was always so busy working in those days, and the work, rather than the money, has always been my main motivation.

It was interesting to work with Alan, and more closely with Stuart and Ian, after the Project finished. I had felt that the APP records were becoming increasingly jaded and less interesting towards the end. It was good to work with Alan and Stuart and Ian as equals. I was also very happy indeed to be able to write a couple of songs with my old friend David Pack. I think that the first post-APP album - Try Anything Once - was probably the best post-APP work. I particularly enjoyed writing the 2 songs with David, and working on "Jigue" and "Re-Jigue" with Alan.

I do still occasionally produce records! I'm not sure who I would be most interested in working with today. I would love to produce an album with Bob Dylan! Whoever it was would have to be someone who liked to work quickly in the studio - I can't imagine spending 6 months or more listening to the same 10 songs...

As regards the shop page, we are working on a new idea which would mean that the shop pages for all of our websites (David Paton's, Ian Bairnson's, Stuart Elliott's and mine) will be linked together, as many people will, we feel, be interested in what each of us has to offer. This does, of course, raise certain technical and cordination challenges, but hopefully they will be resolved in the next month or two.

Question-Recording of Lucifer from Scrabble Album

Chris from Belgium submitted the following enquiry:

I'm crazy about the amazing masterpiece you made called "Lucifer" from the album Andrew Powell and the Phiharmonia Orchestra Plays the Best of the Alan Parsons Project. It was used as a radio theme during the 80's on Hilversum III in Holland National Hitparade. All the sounds, the intro, the climax it's all so perfect! Can you tell me more about this recording, the idea, how long did it take to make? I really want to know everything about Lucifer!

Answer

Dear Chris,

I'm pleased to hear how much you enjoyed this track on the album I made with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Also, thank you for telling me about its use on Radio Hilversum - I didn't know about that. There are two main elements which went into the making of this album: the thinking out and writing of the arrangements and orchestrations, and then the recording and mixing. With regards to the first element, I used a fanfare from another title "May Be a Price to Pay" from the "Turn of a Friendly Card" album, as I felt that this was going to be the first track on my album, and I wanted it to start loudly and confidently - the intro to the original track on "Eve", which I wrote, is very quiet and rather unassuming! I also decided to link "Lucifer" with "Mamma Gamma", another well-known APP instrumental: this combination of the two titles seems to have stuck, as it has been used live for years (as "Luciferama.") The process of working out the whole order of the material from the various original titles, and then writing out the parts for the rhythm section and the orchestra took some time: about a week. The recording of the rhythm section , in the case of this track, Max Middleton on Fender Rhodes piano, Ian Bairnson on guitar, David Paton on bass guitar, Stuart Elliott on drums (the only other title on the "Scrabble" album which used David Ian & Stuart, the original APP rhythm section was the "I Robot Suite") took a day in the studio: the orchestra about an hour and a half (the Philharmonia are great sight readers - they hadn't seen the music until the start of the session!) The mixing was quite complicated, as we were using 2 24-track analogue tape machines linked together, and it took a day and a half in the studio. I must say at this point that the engineer Jon Kelly got the most wonderful warm sound on this album - I think this is probably the richest sounding of any of the albums I've ever done.

Question-Piano Parts on Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights

Dan Green from the UK submitted the following enquiry:

Hello. I have a question about the Wuthering Heights piano part. After the lyric, 'we'd roll and fall in green', there's a mix of a minor and major third run in the piano - was that yours or Kate's idea? Thanks!

Answer

Hello Dan. That was Kate's idea. Almost all of the piano parts on "The Kick Inside" are totally down to Kate - except on "The Saxophone Song", where I took some of her ideas, and elaborated on them in a part I played myself.

Question-Availability of Solo Cd ("Scrabble Album")

Nicola from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

Hello Andrew! The main symbol of the orchestral conductor is the Baton. I noticed from the rare movies where I could see you that you do not use it either during the studio sessions or the live concerts. Why and what difference is there (if any) between the two modes of conducting? Pierre Boulez used to conduct with his hands. Thanks in advance for your answers. Ciao

Answer

Ciao Nicola,

Yes, you are quite right, I never use a baton either in the studio or in concerts. It is, I think, very much a matter of personal taste for each conductor. Quite a few conductors will put the baton down some of the time - interestingly, usually for the most sensitive moments in the music. I find that the hands can express far more than an inanimate piece of wood. You are quite right that Pierre Boulez never used a baton: I worked with him frequently in the early 1970s, and found him the clearest, easiest to follow conductor I had ever worked with, which I think probably influenced my technique and my decision not to use a baton. I think that the most important thing is that the conductor should use gestures which can clearly be understood by the performers. Clarity is vital! You are there to help the musicians as much as possible...

Question-Availability of Solo Cd ("Scrabble Album")

Juerg Glutz from Switzerland submitted the following enquiry:

Dear Mr. Powell, Only recently I have listened to your wonderful album "....plays the best of the Alan Parsons Project" again. Over the years I have looked for it on CD or MP3, and didn't succeed in finding anything. Can you provide some information please, if there is a chance to get this gem on CD or MP3? Would be great. Thank you very much and all the best. Juerg

Answer

Hello Juerg.

Thank you for your kind remarks about the album. Andrew Powell and the Philharmonia Orchestra Play the Best of the Alan Parsons Project was originally released on CD in Germany in 1983. It was also released in the USA by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs in 1984. The album was also reissued by Disky in Holland under the name The Alan Parsons Project Played by Andrew Powell. Unfortunately, all of these CDs have been out of print for a while. Your best chance of fidning a copy would be at record fairs or online on eBay.

Question-APP Re-record and Reunion

Fernando Simoni from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

Dear Mr. Powell, I belong to the Alan Parsons Project fan Club and I have two questions for you: 1) Would it be possible for you to record a second album "The Best of the APP with the Philarmonia Orchestra"? BTW congratulations for the wonderful Re-Jigue on the album TAO. 2) Many fans of the APP hope that one day you, Ian, David, Stuart and of course Alan join in order to record an album dedicated to the great Eric Woolfson. Will that happen? It would be nice to record "cover versions" of the best songs of the APP (I know that David and Ian are preparing something like that).

Answer

Ciao Fernando.

Thank you for your kind remarks about "Re-Jigue." The problem with doing another "APP/Philharmonia" album is that it would cost well over $250,000.00, and I'm not sure that there's any record company which would put that sort of money into a record of this sort nowadays.

I'm not sure about the old group re-uniting - some of us have moved on from our days with the APP: don't forget that all of us were also doing other things at the same time as the Project records. I wonder if the songs aren't best left alone now? Also I'm not sure how many people would actually buy a record like this? Don't forget that Stuart, Ian, Alan and I have already recorded most of the "best of" the APP catalogue twice - the first time was the original version, the second was the "Alan Parsons - Live" album.

Question-Advice Needed

Pilbeam McBride from Scotland submitted the following enquiry:

This may seem like a daft question but how do you manage to hold your arms up during a performance for so long swinging that Baton? I noticed that you had them up for almost 2 hours at the Birmingham symphony hall.. I am studying orchestration and need to conduct from time to time but when I try to hold my arms up they tire and fall limp at my side within minutes! How can I overcome this terrible malady?

Answer

Practise

Question-Bass used on Wuthering Heights

Jonas Solberg from Norway submitted the following enquiry:

Do you remember what type of bass you used on the "Wuthering heights"? I just love the bass sound. Could it be a Rickenbacker?

Answer

No, it wasn't a Rickenbacker - it was a Fender Jazz. Best Wishes.

Question-Availability of Ladyhawke on CD

Antonia Grey from the UK submitted the following enquiry:

As teenager, I loved the film LadyHawke, which was made by the music - it was just perfect. I confess I recorded the music on to a tape and I have played the tape to death. I have ridden imaginary horses to it, danced to it and even exercised to it. It is guaranteed to make me happy. When the tape died, I was desolate. So, I decided that since I was nearly 45, I should invest in a CD and pay you for the joy I have had. But, the thing is, I can't seem to find a CD - not even a version of the 1995 edition. I have seen copies on ebay for £45+ but I don't know if they are real or not.

So, long story aside, can you advise me where I can buy a copy of this disc? I am getting withdrawal symptoms.

Answer

Thank you for your email. I'm pleased to hear that you enjoyed my music for the film "Ladyhawke", and also pleased to hear that you now want to buy a copy! My advice would be - don't buy anything on ebay - wait until early next year, when La-La Land Records will be putting out a new deluxe edition of the "Ladyhawke" score - a 2 CD set which will contain almost all of the music from the film, and a large number of bonus tracks. Keep a watch on the News page for more information.

Question-Best of Orchestrial Arrangements & Redoing Arrangements

Nicola Masinelli from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

In the near future, we could hear an your orchestral cd with the best of your production? Maybe you could sell it only through your website. in your long and renowned career, there is some arrangement that today you want to correct because it does not satisfy you?

Answer

Well, these are a very interesting pair of questions. The answer to the first one is that it would mean getting permission from 10 or 12 different record companies, which could be complicated. But it's worth investigating, so I shall look into it.

You then asked if there was one arrangement from my whole career which I wanted to correct. My first instinct was simply to say "No." Then I thought - if I sat down today to write Sebastian, The Man With the Child in His Eyes, The Year of the Cat, Ladyhawke, or Plasmogeny II, I would probably write them quite differently. So why don't I want to change the originals? I think that the answer is - these were my ideas at the time, and they worked at the time both for me and for the artists who had commissioned them. Now I know that there are composers in the classical world (Pierre Boulez is famous for this) who are constantly re-working old pieces. There is also the trend in rock and pop music for multiple re-mixes of records. Some people even re-mix no. 1 records. I just don't feel motivated to do this myself.

The piece of music, or record, I'm most interested in is always the one I'm working on at the time - or the next one. Once I have finished a piece or a record, it's gone. I'm still interested in whether people want to perform it, or play it on the radio, but no longer interested in working on it.

Question-Availability of Triumphs of a Man Called Horse

Matthias Weber from Germany submitted the following enquiry:

Dear Mr Powell. Let me begin with saying that your music has brought me much joy over the last decades. Thank you for providing me many hours of active listening pleasure. What I am missing in my collection is the soundtrack to the underrated movie called “Triumphs of a Man Called Horse”. To my knowledge, this wonderful soundtrack has not been released on CD. Do you know if it will be in the near future or a download will be made available?

Answer

Thank you for your email. I'm pleased to hear that my music has brought you so much joy - thank you for your comments.

As far as the film "Triumphs of a Man Called Horse" is concerned, I am not aware of any CD release of this score, nor of any plans to release it, I'm afraid. It was released on VHS (and possibly Betamax?) but these may be hard to get hold of by now. If a release does lok likely, I'll make sure it goes into the "News" page of the website.

Question-Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel Birmingham Symphony Hall Show

Paul Carolan from the UK submitted the following enquiry:

I was at the Birmingham Symphony Hall for Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel show in November and was taken aback by your enthusasism. I know your work with Harley on the earlier Cockney Rebel albums but wondered how it felt after all those years with a sell out crowd. 40 yrs have passed, must have felt strange.

Answer

I'm glad that you enjoyed the concert - so did I. I'm interested to know why were you taken aback by my enthusiasm? I have always been proud of the work I did on the first Cockney Rebel albums: "Sebastian" and "Death Trip" were both arrangements which got me noticed in the music business. Steve's lyrics are fascinating. I find that I respond best, and do my best work, when the lyrics interest me; I get a lot of musical ideas from good lyrics. The crowd's response at the Symphony Hall concert was most gratifying - it's always good to get feedback from an audience - and this was obviously Steve's audience. It really didn't seem to me as though 40 years had passed since we recorded these works, and I think Steve felt the same. I am really looking forward to repeating the experience next year.

Question-Availability of Orchestra Scores

Xavier Martinez from Spain submitted the following enquiry:

I just would like to say thanks for your inspiring work. I first heard your arrangements through the APP. Actually I think they are the ones giving the APP the "magical" quality those songs have, and their "timeless" quality. A brilliant work for sure !! So my question is........Have the APP orchestral scores ever been published anywhere and are they available to buy ? I am attempting to replicate the "Silence and I" arrangement by ear, but there's so much going on that I can't hear everything...........

Answer

Thank you for your kind comments about my arrangements. There is indeed a lot going on orchestrally on the track "Silence and I" - I'm not sure that I could write it down correctly from the record.... The orchestra scores have never been published, so are not available to buy. The scores and orchestral parts for certain titles may be available for hire for orchestral performances.

Question-Ladyhawke Compositions

Khiné Bonner from the USA submitted the following enquiry:

What was your approach in regards to the compositions for the Ladyhawke film? The music choice was quite interesting. There weren't many period pieces as would be expected in the film and seemed to have a mix of current 80's New Wave.

Answer

Once the director has decided on his composer for a film, they sit down together and go through the whole film to select the scenes where music is required, and to discuss what sort of music is needed, and what effect it should have ( a process know as "spotting"). Richard Donner specifically wanted Alan Parsons Project-type music for all of the horseback scenes in "Ladyhawke." When you say "there weren't many period pieces", I'm not sure what you mean: there are 5 minutes and 35 seconds of Plainsong ("Gregorian Chant") in the film, and 3 minutes and 30 seconds of lute or lute and recorder music. The majority of the score is purely orchestral - nearly 47 minutes of it: there are only 7 minutes 15 seconds of music by the group alone (less than the amount of mediaeval music), and 14 and a half minutes of group with orchestra. I know there has been some criticism of the fact that the score is "out of period." It would be next to impossible to make the members of an audience jump out of their seats in the latter half of the 20th century with music played by two recorders and a lute! I think what many of these people actually wanted was a conventional Korngold type of score: this would be 600 years out of period, whereas the small percentage of "rock" music in this score is 650 years out of period: not a huge difference. I must say, this is the first time that I've heard the Alan Parsons Project described as "New Wave"! Finally, don't forget that this was a "Fantasy" film - not an historical docudrama.

Question-Al Stewart Arrangements

Jay Immel from the USA submitted the following enquiry:

How did you come up with the orchestral arrangement for Al Stewart's "Modern Times" and the string arrangement for his "Year of the Cat"? Are you going to be working with Al again?

Answer

I'm not quite sure what you mean, but i think you want to know how I decide what instruments to write for, and what they should play to contribute to the overall effect of the track and song? I listen to the tune, the harmonic structure ("chord sequences") and especially the lyrics, which often give the main pointers to the mood I want to create to enhance the track - particularly in the case of a writer like Al, whose words are very good indeed! It's important to remember that you are trying to enhance the track, and not take it over or overwhelm it. Then I start to think about what sort of forces are needed - in the case of "ModernTimes", a fairly large orchestra, with woodwind, brass and strings - for the "Year of the Cat", just strings (and the sax solos.) If you are asking me how I know what notes to write, then I can't really explain that to you - the same way that a guitarist probably couldn't explain why he chose the particular notes he did for a solo - it's down to experience - listening to a very wide range of music, and studying scores of other composers - especially the greats, from Bach through Mozart,Beethoven up to Mahler, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Boulez and Ligeti. It's an instinctive process, which I can't really explain to myself...

Question-Cockney Rebel Arrangements

Nicola Masinelli from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

Hello Andrew ! I wanted to know something about the very special arrangements of the two lps of Cockney Rebel: "Human Menagerie" and "Psychomodo" especially regardings the songs "Ritz"and "Death Trip ". Do you have any anecdotes of meetings for the registration of these two discs?

Answer

Firstly, I must point out that these sessions happened a very long time ago! I remember having a discussion with Steve Harley before the Human Menagerie sessions, when I said that I thought that two of the songs, "Sebastian" and "Death Trip", needed a really large orchestra and a choir. He agreed - and later said that he wanted the choir to sing along with him on the long build-up section in "Death Trip" which begins with a piano riff, and ends with the choir singing along with Steve. I said this would build to a better climax if there were some words there - which there weren't originally. Steve phoned me back a couple of hours later with the lines "All the boys say Run like a chicken, but..." The large orchestra sessions for these two songs went very well - there is one point in "Death Trip" where a bassoon is played (by Robin Thompson) through a VSC3 synthesiser, using the ring modulator facility, which gives a strange kind of "beating" effect. The orchestra (and choir) sounded superb - no real surprise, with Geoff Emerick engineering.

With regard to the second album, and in particular the song "Ritz", I remember that I did ask Steve what he intended the song to be about, and he just looked at me and smiled, and said "That's up to you..." The song has a very distinct and unusual atmosphere, and I wanted to create an orchestral world for it which was as unusual as the track and the lyric. I think it worked... I just wish that the orchestra were slightly louder in the mix!

Question-Keyboard Setup for Alan Parsons Live Project Tour

Bill Gagliani from the USA submitted the following enquiry:

Two-part question here. We were absolutely thrilled to see you playing keyboards on the early Alan Parsons Live Project tour. First, as a keyboard/synth aficionado, I'd love to know what keyboard set-up you used to recreate a portion of the orchestral sound of the APP. Second, is there a chance we will see you share the stage with Mr. Parsons again at some point?

Answer

The keyboard set-up I was using in the US tour in 1995 (I presume that's the one you're talking about?) was: Roland FP1 digital piano, Yamaha DX7 (mainly used for Electric Piano sounds - especially the "Wurlitzer" sounds for "Eye in the Sky", "Prime Time" etc., as well as some other effects), Sequential Circuits Prophet V, Roland JD800, Proteus, Akai S3000, plus Yamaha SPX90 and SPX990 effects units with an Akai midi patchbay all played through a Yamaha digital desk. So the orchestral sounds were coming from the Proteus, S3000 and sometimes the JD800, with the Prophet occasionally reinforcing brass sounds. At the moment there are no plans for Alan and I to appear together again - we do, after all, live 6,000 miles apart... 

Question-The "Usher" Suite from Tales of Mystery & Imagination

Giorgio Rizzarelli from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

The "Usher" suite is composed by you, Eric and Alan. Can you tell us something about the specific contributions of the three composers? For example, the album notes quote you as main writer since the orchestral parts dominating the work, but the oboe's phrase at the beginning of Prelude is similar to the beginning of Stereotomy. Who thought about arranging Pavane almost exclusively with string instruments (as the music described in the Poe tale)?

Answer

It's often difficult to work out exactly which parts in a collaboration were done by whom: obviously a lot of the orchestral sections were down to me, but there were contributions from the others. With regards to your question about a similarity between the opening melody of "Prelude" and "Stereotomy", I should point out that as "Usher" pre-dates "Stereotomy" by some 10 years the former could have influenced the latter, but not vice versa. Incidentally, the opening of "Stereotomy" was sequenced and played by Richard Cottle, not Eric; also, the opening theme of the "Prelude" is played by a cor anglais, (a sort of alto oboe with a range down to the E below the oboe's bottom Bb) not an oboe. I think I showed Alan the line in the story which says that Roderick Usher could bear almost no music except for "peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments". Alan and I decided (not because it's specifically stated in the text, but it is said that Roderick Usher plays the guitar) to use only plucked string instruments -acoustic guitars, mandolin, string bass, kantele, harp and harpsichord - and cimbalom (technically a percussion instrument, but it has a lot of strings.) The "Pavane" was mainly written by Alan, with a few changes and additions from me - I don't think Eric contributed to this piece at all.

Question-Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber Performance Album

Stephen Carson, a massive John Miles fan from Scotland submitted the following enquiry:

How did the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber album, Performance, come about and how did you go about choosing tracks and vocalists?

Answer

I was originally approached by Telstar Records, who explained the idea for the album, and said that they had booked Roger Daltrey, Jim Diamond, and several other top artists for the vocals. I instantly said yes to the project. It turned out, however, that none of the artists were actually prepared to do the album! Therefore, we had to start looking for other singers. I suggested various people with whom I had worked, such as Murray Head, Elaine Paige, John Miles, Colm Wilkinson and David Essex. I, too, am a big fan of john Miles: I have worked with him on many occasions, and he never fails to deliver. He did a wonderful job on both of the tracks on which he sang - "Close Every Door" and "Pity the Child" - the latter is a really difficult song, but John learned it on the train on the way down from Newcastle to London, and did it in 2 takes (both of which were perfect!) His vocal on "Close Every Door" was also wonderful - it was mixed with no echo at all - a very unusual situation, only possible with the finest singers. David Essex's version of "One Night in Bangkok" was interestingly subdued, compared to the original - but there is little point in recording a cover version of a song if you simply ape the original version. I had already changed the arrangement noticeably. ("Superstar" was also very different from the original.) Judy Collins really enjoyed singing both parts on "I Know Him so Well." The choice of tracks was, on the whole, obvious - though there were one or two I could have done without...

Question-Discovery and Production of Kate Bush

Giorgio Rizzarelli from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

What are your memories about discovering and producing (with David Gilmour) the young Kate Bush?

Answer

Well, this question contains two often-repeated wrong facts: I didn't discover Kate Bush, nor did David - a friend of David's called Ricky Hopper did - and David did not produce her: he paid for the first sessions (he is therefore listed as "executive producer" on the records) but was on tour with Pink Floyd in America when I produced the first sessions in London. David Gilmour phoned me one day, and invited me for lunch at the Pink Floyd's office in Bond Street, London. When I arrived there, he introduced me to Kate Bush (or Cathy, as she was then known.) She was a very quiet, but obviously thoughtful, young girl. He played me some of her songs, and I was impressed by her vivid musical and lyrical imagination. We talked about which songs to do - I took a tape away, and we had a further discussion a few days later: we agreed on 3 songs to record, and David handed the project over to me. I booked some time at AIR London Studios in Oxford Circus with the renowned Geoff Emerick as engineer (who, to my great embarrassment, wasn't credited on the album), and booked a rhythm section consisting of Barry de Souza on drums, Bruce Lynch on bass, and Alan Parker and Paul Keogh on guitars. Kate would play piano (although I played both piano and electric piano on "Berlin"). We had another session a few days later with the orchestra, who played on "Berlin", and also played "The Man with the Child in his Eyes" - Kate played piano and sang live with the orchestra. If she was nervous, it didn't show - I still think this is one of the best vocals I have heard from her. Geoff, who was assisted by Peter Henderson, did great mixes of all 3 titles (the other one was called "Humming" - it was never released) and David took the tape to Bob Mercer at EMI, who signed her.

Question-Videos of APP Orchestra sessions

Eduardo Rodrigues from the USA submitted the following enquiry:

Do you have avaliable for sale videos of the APP recording sessions (in particular the Orchestra)?

Answer

We never video taped any APP orchestra session or any other sessions, as far as I know.

Question-Ladyhawke Soundtrack

Giorgio Rizzarelli from Italy submitted the following enquiry:

In the Ladyhawke soundtrack, Navarre and Isabeau's Dual Transformation is a very interesting track: the sun and moon themes are played simultaneously, and later the Navarre and Isabeau themes are played together. At one point, all four themes appear at same time. Finally also the love theme joins. This makes me remember the way Wagner superimposed leitmotivs and made them work together. How challenging was joining together all these themes? Did you think about this theme fusion since when you composed the separate themes?

Answer

Firstly, each of the themes you mention was deliberately composed as a "Leitmotiv" in the Wagnerian sense of the word. The scene you mention struck me as one of the most significant in the film - it's the only time the two lovers actually see each other, if only for a moment, as they are transforming, until the curse is lifted at the end. It seemed appropriate dramatically and emotionally to try to make all of these themes work together - and, no, I hadn't thought of the possible need to do that when I wrote the individual themes. It did require a certain amount of musical sleight of hand - changing major intervals to minor, for example. I'm glad that you enjoyed the idea!

Question Submission Form

Name

Country

Email

Question