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Alan Parsons | The Secret

The veteran prog-popster tries to summon the old magic on his first disc in 15 years.

Yes, Alan Parsons. THE Alan Parsons. The studio-whiz engineer and producer-turned-art rocker who gave the world ’70s and ’80s concept albums like Tales of Mystery and Imagination, I Robot, The Turn of a Friendly Card and Eye in the Sky. Coincidentally, the latter’s 35th anniversary Surround Sound edition recently earned the 70-year-old veteran his first Grammy Award, which is something of a surprise, considering he worked on Abbey Road, Let it Be and Dark Side of the Moon. But perhaps it’s not as startling as the unexpected arrival of Parsons’ first album since 2004’s eminently forgettable and fittingly forgotten A Valid Path. Unfortunately, that’s about the only surprise in store here. Those hoping Parsons might have changed with the times or updated his sound even slightly might be in for disappointment. These 11 tracks slavishly follow the same basic formula that he’s relied on for decades: A loose concept (this time it’s magic), a roster of guest vocalists and musicians (including Jason Mraz, Lou Gramm and Steve Hackett), and a slate of stylishly arranged and exquisitely rendered but basically toothless prog-pop creations laced with synthesizers, saxophones, swelling strings and symphonic grandiosity. There’s no finer (or, depending on your POV, worse) example than the five-minute-long opening ode to Disney’s Fantasia classic The Sorcerer’s Apprentice — though the finger-snapping noir jazz of Requiem and the bloated One Note Symphony come close. If all of that does the trick for you, this disc might be enough to bring back some of the old magic. But even if you’re glad The Secret is out, you really might want to keep it to yourself.