Between the Project's groundbreaking 'Tales of Mystery' (1976) and the release of 'Turn of a Friendly Card' (1980), the arrival of punk and disco had changed the music scene out of all recognition, but the genius that was APP sailed on regardless, producing a succession of groundbreaking albums ('I Robot', 'Pyramid', 'Eve'). 'Friendly Card' was the best Project album to date, and many, myself included, rate this as the best of the lot.
Inspired by gambling - or perhaps, more broadly, by the relationship between chance and destiny - 'Friendly Card' is a beautifully crafted, inspired concept album where the total exceeds the sum of the parts. There are great individual contributions here - Ian Bairnson's guitar work and Chris Rainbow's sublime vocals, to name but two - but the overall cohension of the album is superb, under the inspired guidance of Parsons, Eric Woolfson and Andrew Powell.
Though including some catchy songs (such as 'Games People Play'), the heart of the album is the 'Turn of a Friendly Card' suite. When I first heard this, I felt it was a crowning achievement in the prog rock pantheon. It sounds just as good today.
The remastering of this version is excellent. To be sure, it's been done with a light and subtle touch, but it should be remembered that the sound quality of the original album was far ahead of the contemporary norm. Add in the excellent bonus material and you have a beautiful reissue of one of the truly great prog rock albums. Brilliant.