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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 7 February 2004
Having seen one of the reviews on this site I nearly didn't buy this CD as I thought I would be disappointed. How wrong I was! The al;bum is now firmly glued into my CD player and will remain there for some time yet. This is one of those albums that if I was left with only ten to listen to for the rest of my life...this would be in there. Yes, it REALLY is that good. The first thing to surprise me was the superb quality of th recording and technical excellence, (I am a dedicated audio nut). Eric has managed to nearly beat Alan Parsons on that score and he as certainly equalled any APP album in terms of the flawless ultra-slick production. But what about the music? Well...just amazing..completely enchanting, warm, sensitive and challenging (yes those vocal tracks do take some getting your head around but are so rewarding once you have and who wants a conformist album where all tracks sound the same? No "Tales" fan. Steve Balsamo has THE most amazing voice and Eric utilizes it to full potential. Fred Johanson's voice on Train To Freedom is an ideal choice, blending so well with background choir in true APP fashion. No, this is a MORE than worthy a follow up album to the original tales and one album I am sure you will get much enjoyment from. A true classic.
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on 22 February 2004
Eric Woolfson has made another musical masterpiece with this CD, which incorporates about half the songs from the forthcoming musical.
It compares very well with his other musicals, but listeners should not make the mistake of thinking this is another Alan Parsons Project album - that ended with the Freudiana in 1990. What I did find with this new album is that it does require several plays, as some of the tracks did not catch my attention on first listening.
The opening instrumental leads seemlessly into Wings Of Eagles and onto Train To Freedom. One of the best tracks follows with Somewhere In The Audience, a fine Woolfson composition. The other highlights are Murder In The Rue Morgue, and the final track Immortal. This last one again gets better each time you play it.
Overall this is an album that has been worth the long wait and will grow on you over time. It isn't quite on the same plateau as Freudiana (a brilliant album that has been sadly ignored by the media) but is defiantely worth buying if you have enjoyed other Woolfson compositions.
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on 31 October 2003
I got hold of an early copy of Poe, and it has been playing non stop in the car ever since. It gets better and better the more I listen to it, but it needs to be played LOUD to really hear and feel it! You can tell it is the same guy as wrote the Alan Parsons Project: the music is bigger than other "pop", but this is more emotional than any of his previous albums eg the last track, Immortal. This is one of the very few pieces of music that makes my hair stand on end, play after play. There are two tracks that I haven't quite go tmy head around yet, a bit too choral for me, but perhaps this will change as I listen more. By contrast there are three tracks which are spectacular, and emphatically pass the "does it keep going round your head all day?" test.
In all, I found it a big move forward from the Alan Parson's Project. Eric still includes all the good points of the Project albums (great tunes, arrangement and vocals) but he seems to be pushing himself to go further, possibly more true to himself? Enjoy it.
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on 20 November 2003
Anybody who thinks this album falls short of Eric's Alan Parsons Project material needs to remember that it's not a prog rock album. Trying to compare it to old Project material is comparing apples and oranges and pointless in the end since it wasn't written with old Project-files in mind. And they need to listen carefully to the lyrics and music balance and there you'll hear one element of the Project's work that made it so special. When Eric uses Poe's material, he often presents a dichotomy of styles, bright music to dark lyrics. And many of these songs showcase what many believe, namely that Eric can be one of the most clever, layered lyricists of our day. Combine these two elements and you get a pretty powerful album, one that needs many listens in order to appreciate some of the subtle nuances.
Clearly some of these songs have the stage in mind and anyone fortunate enough to have seen any of the 3 shows recently staged at Abbey Road studios comes back to this CD with an even greater appreciation of what Eric managed to meld, namely using Poe material and purpose-written biographical songs to tell the story of his life, death, and literary immortality.
There's also a nice balance of a strong lead vocal (Steve Balsamo who has an amazing voice) with two fantastic choir arrangements. In fact, one of those songs, Goodbye To All That, is possibly one of Eric's best works ever, Project or post-Project.
Probably the best comparison would be to Eric's first "techincally" post-Project work, Freudiana (which if you haven't purchased, rush out and get now--it's one of the best prog rock albums ever made). That one is definitely more "Project feeling" because of the musicians involved, but, it's also one of Eric's most complete concept pieces. In that regard, POE comes close lyrically although again, it has a much different feel in places because the music and stage aspects.
This CD is definitely worth getting and if you're patient with it, that will pay off. Expect a surround version in SACD next year and hopefully a DVD of the Abbey Road shows. THOSE will change your minds if you're a skeptic.
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on 27 November 2006
Title of this CD is very attractive for the old Alan Parsons Project fan.

And truely it sounds more like concept albums of APP than last CDs by Alan Parsons himself. But... The great start of the album - beautiful (but short) instrumental "Angel of the Odd" (title of funny philosophical story by Edgar Poe) - and you are ready to be involved in familiar atmosphere of classic APP album. Then comes "Wings of Eagles" - a kind of AOR-style song. And... You are seeing - though album is recorded in Abbey Road, but here we have not much interesting instrumental arrangements, juicy sound effects etc. This is not "The Tales of Mystery and Imagination-2". Good professinal work by Eric Woolfson without Alan Parsons.

I like the whole album including "The Bells" and "The Pit and the Pendulum" and I agree with the previous reviewers, that the album seemed more interesting after the second and the third listening. Voice of the singer Balsamo is impressive, many songs with gospel-style singing of chorus.

I like Edgar Poe and I like Alan Parsons Project - so I had to buy this CD.

Of course it isn't possible to repeat the success and atmosphere of the first album of APP in 2003. So Eric Woolfson recorded new good solo CD. And if you would buy "Woolfson's Poe" without these false expectations - you would be satisfied. By the way you could check out sound clips on Eric Woolfson's website of this CD.
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on 18 June 2016
WOW! This is an amazing work of art. The gorgeous Steve Balsamo with his fantastically silky smooth but also powerful voice is as you would expect it to be...first class. His acting skills are perfect and I have to ask...how does this man manage to sing so beautifully with tears rolling down his face and how does he manage to cry at just the right moment...not just once but everytime he sings the appropriate songs? I was in tears when he sang 'Somewhere in the audience' and 'Immortal'. The passion and power in Steve's voice hit you straight in the heart.
Personally I think Steve Balsamo needs more public recognition. The Storys were fab, Balsamo Deighton are brilliant and Steve as Poe and also as Jesus of Nazareth are up there with the best and most established singers.
This musical is not grand in its scenery, costume changes or stage size. But don't let that put you off. This is an amazing musical, with an amazing cast. If it was possible to have the same cast tour the UK, I'd be first in line for tickets.

Do you think I like this musical? Too right I do. I can't recommend this highly enough. Don't let the fact that it's about Edgar Allan Poe put you off. Watch it as you would any other musical and then judge it. You will be so pleasantly surprised.
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VINE VOICEon 16 June 2004
Great at both ends, but "The Pit & The Pendulum" is bland to the point of being invisible, and "Murders In The Rue Morgue" is daft without the redeeming virtue of humour, ending up just tiresome. HOWEVER, the other stuff is good to brilliant, with some very original sounds. The last track's spectacular.
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on 7 June 2010
Eric Woolfson the creator of this astounding album said of performer Steve Balsamo,'at last I have found my voice.' praise from the highest, and he is without doubt absolutely perfect for the part, this album is filled with Gothic darkness, shot through with an underlying humour, and what a wonderful swansong for mr Woolfson to bow out on, mr Balsamo's voice will astound you with its purity,emotion and incredible range, the final track on the album, 'immortal' will have the hairs on the back of your neck,if not your entire head,standing on end, the last note an incredible feat of vocal dexterity...after you buy this album,buy the dvd....you will watch it time and time again.
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on 29 December 2012
I bought this because it features Steve Balsamo but quickly came to love it for itself. I would love to acquire the DVD of the staged performance.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 December 2012
This is a review of the shorter (forty-seven minute) studio album, but all the tracks featured here also appear on the longer `musical' album in some shape or form. Some of these songs also feature on the late Eric Woolfson's last collection, the imaginatively titled `Eric Woolfson Sings the Alan Parsons Project That Never Was.'

This album opens with an instrumental in the shape and style of former Alan Parsons Project (APP) albums, but beyond that there is unfortunately precious little to merit this CD as a worthy successor to the original 1970s APP `Tales of Mystery & Imagination'. This is partly because it has been really conceived from the start not for the studio but for the stage.

Having said that, there is still a lot here to admire, in particular Woolfson's arrangement of two of his songs for choir. The first of these, `The Bells', takes Poe's poem word for word to create a well-conceived and well-arranged crescendo; the second, `Goodbye To All That' also works well as a song, despite it seemingly having very little to do with Poe's life and work.

But Woolfson's arrangement of Poe's story `The Pit and the Pendulum' is crass. Reminding me of amateur Deep Purple, the arrangement objectifies the story rather than makes us empathetic with the horror. The following `The Murders In The Rue Morgue' is certainly clever and can be admired for its lyrics, but its format clearly betrays a stage-musical setting.

The last song, `Immortal' is arguably the best, but it receives a far better rendition with Woolfson's own voice on the aforementioned `Eric Woolfson Sings the Alan Parsons Project That Never Was' album. (I give it five-stars in my review of that CD.) On this album, though, the lead vocalist is someone called Steve Balsamo. His is a good strong voice but it lacks subtlety; it is a stage voice.

Because of the stage-musical feel to this album, it lacks the frisson of the macabre that imbued the original APP album back in the 1970s. There is nothing like the darkness to be found in Alan Parsons's production of `The Raven', for instance, or `The Tell-Tale Heart', `The Cask Of Amontillado', or `The Fall Of The House Of Usher'. (I consider the original `Tales of Mystery & Imagination' to be the best that the Alan Parsons Project ever did.) Instead, Woolfson's solo part two is tame and folksy.

Woolfson's CD, then, possesses some competently-performed, well-written songs. They come with a competent production but lack Alan Parsons's innovation, imagination, and finesse. The package comes with generous sleevenotes.
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