Not Your Average Hit List

© Roger Huggett/Sine for the album cover.

© Eric Woolfson/Freudiana Records/EMI for the music (excerpt).

© Per A.J. Andersson for the text. Written March 2004, updated November 2011.

by Eric Woolfson

Even those acquainted with famous pop outfit the Alan Parsons Project may have missed it. And yet this was all-but-a-Project. Eric Woolfson's "Freudiana". The project that meant the end of the Project.

— • —

Eric Woolfson was the anonymous half of the Alan Parsons Project. For fifteen years he co-wrote tunes, handled the piano and took care of the vocals for many of the hit songs from this British progressive pop-rock ensemble. He was the soft and elegant voice behind both "Time" and "Eye in the Sky".

Eric was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1945. He started out as a professional songwriter already at the age of 18, signed by Andrew Loog Oldhand, producer of the Rolling Stones. And by 1975, his songs had been covered by more than a hundred artists.

He tried both production and management with varying success. As an artist manager his first two signings were Carl Douglas (of "Kung Fu Fighting" fame) and... engineer/record producer Alan Parsons. Together the duo found something that was well worth developing.

— • —

Eric's musical interest in great creative minds meant the duo spent the next two years setting music to works of writer Allan Edgar Poe. The result was "Tales of Mystery and Imagination", and the Alan Parsons Project was born.

A stream of well-conceived, out of the ordinary pop-rock albums with progressive leanings followed, with more than a moderate success. That is - world-wide sales of some 45 million records. They spun around concepts such as man and the machine, loss of individualism and architect Antoni Gaudí.

What was meant as the basis for their eleventh album, eventually turned out to be the end for the Alan Parsons Project. Eric Woolfson's ambitious idea around the life and works of Sigmund Freud gave birth to a double-length studio album, penned almost entirely by Eric, yet produced by Alan...

— • —

Alan Parsons gave this set another touch of his distinct pop feel with overdubs and instrumentation that had been his ever since his days with the Beatles albums and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". There was the regular mix of excellent pop singers in front of the microphone - from Leo Sayer and Kiki Dee to Eric Stewart and Eric Woolfson. The album ended in a forte with the lingering epic "There But for the Grace of God", brought forth by the powerful voice of the much underrated John Miles.

During his long period of preparing "Freudiana", Eric came into contact with theatrical producer Brian Brolly. With the help of Brolly, the concept of "Freudiana" also gave birth to a stage musical, opening in Vienna in December of 1990. The original idea around Sigmund Freud's life had then transformed itself into an image of the composer seen through a Freudian mirror. Despite bad reviews the musical was a moderate success. It was hampered, though, by a conflict between Woolfson over the control of the project. In the resulting lawsuit, Brolly won, leaving Woolfson's own finances in a state of bankruptcy.

"Freudiana" gave Eric a taste of musical theatre, and he chose to pursue this vein. Which meant that Alan Parsons had to continue with the rock group on his own, now dropping "the Project" from the name.

— • —

From now on Eric was to base his activities largely on German soil. When his finances had improved sufficiently, he continued with the staging of his ideas. Both "Gaudí" and "Gambler" premiered in theatres in the Rheinland, music-wise based upon his earlier material with "the Project". The latter musical was influenced by Fyodor Dostoyevski's "The Gambler", but the setting was a modern Las Vegas, and the music was taken from "The Turn of a Friendly Card".

Then in 2003 came "Poe - More Tales of Mystery and Imagination", taking on the theme from the album "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" once more. But this time with new material written for the occasion.

While Alan Parsons has continued with clever pop-rock, Eric Woolfson has continued making projects. For those that have a chance of getting near any of them, they're well worth a listen. For the sake of interesting ideas, if nothing else. //


(Parlophone Odeon, 1990)

• The Nirvana Principle
• Freudiana
• I Am a Mirror
• Little Hans
• Dora
• Funny You Should Say That
• You're on Your Own
• Far Away from Home
• Let Yourself Go
• Beyond the Pleasure Principle (*)
• The Ring
• Sects Therapy
• No One Can Love You Better than Me
• Don't Let the Moment Pass
• Upper Me
• Freudiana
• Destiny
• There But for the Grace of God (EXCERPT)

Eric Woolfson
(* Alan Parsons)
Production: Alan Parsons

• Freudiana (1990)
• Black Freudiana (1991; musical soundtrack)
• Gaudí (1996; musical soundtrack)
• Gambler (1997)
• Poe - More Tales of Mystery and Imagination (2003)
• Dancing Shadows (2007)
• The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was (2009)
• Edgar Allan Poe: A Musical (2009)

WWW Music Database
Encyclopaedia Projectologia
The Avenue Online
POE - More Tales of Mystery and Imagination

• the Alan Parsons Project (more than a decade)
• John Miles (vocal splendour)
• Camel (theme albums)

Not Your Average Hit List 43 minutes... Alla är Ambition Consequences Door to Door The Dreaming Dzien i noc État d'urgence In the Spirit of Things Kaze no tani no Naushika Lights in the Night Martwa woda Nuit d'amour Once in a Million Open Door People Are Strange The Royal Scam Stationary Traveller Victim of Love Whore Music Up North Music Out West Music Far East Music Down South Films I Like a Lot Comic or Not On and Off TV About Me There's so much more out there ...