As digital technology has enabled some of the most innovative musicians to redefine the means of composition, so too has it facilitated record producers and engineers in broadening the possibilities of how music can sound. One of the foremost authorities on such matters, Alan Parsons chronicles the modern recording process in a three-DVD, nine-hour instructional series, The Art and Science of Sound Recording.
“The program is really designed to cover every aspect of recording,” he explains, “from the acoustic properties and design of the studio right through to the final mix of a record.” It's a culmination of sorts for Parsons, who has invested more than 40 years as a producer and engineer as well as an artist, along the way playing an integral role in shaping some of most seminal works of the pop-music era.
An assistant engineer for EMI Records in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Parsons served his apprenticeship at Abbey Road Studios in London, acquiring the formative skills of his craft in album sessions for the Jeff Beck Group’s Beck-Ola and the Beatles’ Abbey Road, among others.
His stature grew exponentially when he produced and engineered Pink Floyd’s dystopian masterwork, 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon. The album has not only endured as a landmark achievement, but in many ways has also loomed over everything he’s done since.
“I’m never allowed to forget it,” Parsons says with a laugh, yet he acknowledges, “I do regard it as a milestone, a significant milestone. I’m always proud of it. There’s nothing I would change. The only slight thing is that I didn’t get rich off it. I was paid a studio-staff salary.”
Nonetheless, Parsons affirms that the experience afforded him the opportunity to pursue his own endeavors as a recording artist. “The Alan Parsons Project would not necessarily have happened,” he says, “had it not been for Dark Side of the Moon.”
Along with vocalist and co-writer Eric Woolfson and a cast of rotating musicians, the Alan Parsons Project enjoyed a successful run throughout the '70s and '80s with albums like I Robot and Eye in the Sky, both of which reached the Top Ten.
With a reputation as one of the foremost producers and engineers in the music industry, Parsons went on to work on such albums as Paul McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway and Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat. Also, indelible radio singles like Pilot’s “Magic” and The Hollies’ “The Air That I Breathe” bear his deft aesthetic.