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Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Alan Parsons Project album)

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Title: Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Alan Parsons Project album)  
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Subject: The Alan Parsons Project, Alan Parsons, The Raven (song), Jack Harris (musician), I Robot (album)
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Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Alan Parsons Project album)

Tales of Mystery and Imagination Edgar Allan Poe
Studio album by The Alan Parsons Project
Released May 1976 (US)
June 1976 (UK)
Recorded July 1975 – January 1976
Abbey Road Studios
Mama Jo's
Kingsway Hall
Genre Progressive rock, art rock
Length 42:38
Label 20th Century Fox (US)
Charisma (UK)
Producer Alan Parsons
The Alan Parsons Project chronology
Tales of Mystery and Imagination
I Robot
Alternative cover
LP featuring alternate artwork

Tales of Mystery and Imagination Edgar Allan Poe, is the debut album by the progressive rock group The Alan Parsons Project, released in 1976. The lyrical and musical themes – retellings of horror stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe — attracted a cult audience. The title of the album is taken from a popular title for a collection of Poe's macabre tales of the same name, Tales of Mystery & Imagination, first published in 1908 and reprinted many times since.

Musicians featured on the album include vocalists Arthur Brown of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown on The Tell Tale Heart and Terry Sylvester of The Hollies on To One In Paradise. The complete line-up of bands Ambrosia and Pilot play on the record, along with keyboardist Francis Monkman of Curved Air and Sky.

Tales of Mystery and Imagination peaked at No. 38 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart. "(The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether" peaked at No. 37 on the Pop Singles chart.


  • Song information 1
  • Reception 2
  • Release history 3
  • Remakes 4
  • Legacy 5
  • Track listing 6
    • 2007 deluxe edition 6.1
  • Personnel 7
  • Charts 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10

Song information

"The Raven" features actor Leonard Whiting on lead vocals, with Alan Parsons performing vocals through an EMI vocoder. According to the album's liner notes, "The Raven" was the first rock song to feature a digital vocoder.

The Prelude section of "The Fall of the House of Usher", although uncredited, is inspired by the opera fragment "La chute de la maison Usher" by Claude Debussy which was composed between 1908 and 1917.[1] "The Fall of the House of Usher" is an instrumental suite which runs 16 minutes plus and takes up most of Side 2 of the recording.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic [2]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[3]

Critical reaction to the album was mixed; for example, Rolling Stone's Billy Altman concluded that it did not completely accurately reproduce Poe's tension and macabre fear, ending by claiming that "devotees of Gothic literature will have to wait for someone with more of the macabre in their blood for a truer musical reading of Poe's often terrifying works".[4]

Release history

Originally simply called The Alan Parsons Project, the album was successful enough to achieve gold status. The identity of The Alan Parsons Project as a group was cemented on the second album, I Robot, in 1977.

The original version of the album was available for several years on vinyl and cassette, but was not immediately available on CD (the CD technology not being commercially available until 1982).

In 1987, Parsons completely remixed the album, including additional guitar passages and narration (by Orson Welles) as well as updating the production style to include heavy reverb and the gated reverb snare drum sound, which was popular in the 1980s. The CD notes that Welles never met Parsons or Eric Woolfson, but sent a tape to them of the performance shortly after the album was manufactured in 1976.

The first passage narrated by Welles on the 1987 remix (which comes before the first track, "A Dream Within a Dream") is sourced from an obscure nonfiction piece by Poe – No XVI of his Marginalia (from 1845 to 1849 Edgar Allan Poe titled some of his reflections and fragmentary material "Marginalia.") The second passage Welles reads (which comes before "The Fall of the House of Usher" (Prelude), seems to be a partial paraphrase or composite from nonfiction by Poe, chiefly from a collection of poems titled "Poems of Youth" by Poe (contained in "Introduction to Poems – 1831" in a section titled "Letter to Mr. B-----------"; the "Shadows of shadows passing" part of the quote comes from the Marginalia.

In 1994 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) released the original 1976 version on CD (UDCD-606), making the original available digitally for the first time.

In 2007, a Deluxe Edition released by Universal Music included both the 1976 and the 1987 versions remastered by Alan Parsons during 2006 with eight additional bonus tracks.


A variant of the song "The Raven" appears on the Eric Woolfson album Edgar Allan Poe (2009), which contains the complete music from Woolfson's 2003 stage musical of the same name. The variant track does not appear on Woolfson's 2003 CD Poe: More Tales of Mystery and Imagination, which was a highly abridged version of the stage musical. On the variant, the bass line and keyboard chords of the original Tales of Mystery and Imagination track are heard, but they are quieter, do not feature a vocoder, and instead of an abridged version of the Poe poem being sung, the Woolfson version features a fuller spoken dramatic reading of the poem.

Alan Parsons album A Valid Path includes "A Recurring Dream Within A Dream", a composite of "A Dream Within A Dream" and "The Raven" incorporating electronic music influences.


In July 2010, the album was named as one of Classic Rock magazine's "50 Albums That Built Prog Rock".[5]

Slough Feg covered "The Tell-Tale Heart" for their 2010 album The Animal Spirits.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "A Dream Within a Dream"   none 4:14
2. "The Raven"   Leonard Whiting and Alan Parsons 3:57
3. "The Tell-Tale Heart"   Arthur Brown 4:38
4. "The Cask of Amontillado"   John Miles and Terry Sylvester 4:33
5. "(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether"   John Miles and Jack Harris 4:20
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "The Fall of the House of Usher (Parsons, Woolfson, Andrew Powell)
  • "Prelude" – 7:02
  • "Arrival" – 2:39
  • "Intermezzo" – 1:00
  • "Pavane" – 4:36
  • "Fall" – 0:51"  
none 16:10
2. "To One in Paradise"   Terry Sylvester 4:46

Orson Welles' narration appears on the 1976 mix and the 1987 remix at the beginning of "A Dream Within a Dream".

2007 deluxe edition

Disc 1: Tracks 1–11, original album in original 1976 mix

  1. "The Raven" (original demo)
  2. "Edgar" (demo of an unreleased track)
  3. "Orson Welles Radio Spot"
  4. "Interview with Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson" (1976)

Disc 2: Tracks 1–11, original album in 1987 remix

  1. "Eric's Guide Vocal Medley"
  2. "Orson Welles Dialogue"
  3. "Sea Lions in the Departure Lounge" (sound effects and experiments)[6]
  4. "GBH Mix" (unreleased experiments)


  • Alan Parsons – Organ, Synthesizer, Guitar, Keyboards, Recorder, Vocals, Producer, Engineer, Projectron
  • Eric Woolfson – Synthesizer, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Vocals, Vocals (background), Executive Producer
  • Orson Welles – Narrator
  • Dennis Clarke - Saxophone
  • Leonard Whiting – Vocals, Narrator
  • Arthur Brown – Vocals
  • John Miles – Guitar, Vocals
  • Jack Harris – Vocals
  • Francis Monkman – Organ, Keyboards
  • Kevin Peek – Guitar (Acoustic)
  • Terry Sylvester – Vocals
  • Laurence Juber – Guitar (Acoustic)
  • Andrew Powell – Keyboards, Arranger
  • David Paton – Guitar (Acoustic), Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Vocals (background)
  • Ian Bairnson – Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
  • Chris Blair – Assistant Engineer
  • Peter Christopherson – Photography
  • David Katz – Violin, Leader, Orchestra Contractor
  • Burleigh Drummond – Drums
  • English Chorale – Vocals
  • Bob Howes – Choir, Chorus
  • John Leach – Percussion, Vocals, Cimbalom, Kantele
  • David Pack – Guitar
  • Smokey Parsons – Vocals
  • Joe Puerta – Bass
  • Tony Richards – Assistant Engineer
  • Jack Rothstein – Leader
  • Daryl Runswick – Bass, String Bass
  • David Snell – Harp
  • The English Chorale and Played Ti – Choir, Chorus
  • Stuart Tosh – Cymbals, Drums, Vocals, Tympani [Timpani]
  • Tom Trefethen – Assistant Engineer
  • Pat Stapley – Assistant Engineer
  • Aubrey Powell – Photography
  • Storm Thorgerson – Photography
  • Hipgnosis – Design, Cover Art
  • Sam Emerson – Photography
  • Colin Elgie – Artwork, Graphic Design, Layout Design
  • Billy Lyall – Piano, Drums, Glockenspiel, Keyboards, Recorder, Fender Rhodes
  • Gordon Parry – Engineer
  • Jane Powell – Vocals, Vocals (background)
  • Les Hurdle – Bass
  • Christopher North – Keyboards


Year Chart Position
1976 The Billboard 200 38
1976 UK Albums Chart 56
1976 Canada 81

See also


  1. ^ The Cambridge companion to Debussy / edited by Simon Trezise, Cambridge University Press, 2003
  2. ^ Mike DeGagne. "Tales of Mystery and Imagination: Edgar Allan Poe – The Alan Parsons Project". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  3. ^ "Rolling Stone Music | Album Reviews". Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  4. ^ Billy Altman (23 September 1976). "Alan Parsons Project – Tales of Mystery & Imagination". Rolling Stone website. 
  5. ^ Classic Rock magazine, July 2010, Issue 146.
  6. ^ "Sea Lions in the Departure Lounge" uses the same announcement recording as was previously used on Pink Floyd's On the Run from the album The Dark Side of the Moon, on which Alan Parsons was engineer.
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