The Turn Of A Friendly Card
Arista Records, 1980
REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/20/2007
In the continued spirit of this month’s retrospective, I can tell you this was the first album I ever bought. Hooked by the insistence of “Games People Play,” I plunked down money at -- hrm -- mighta been GC Murphy’s or K-Mart. I don’t remember exactly, but I do remember this CD; the fact remains that I’m on my fourth copy and Turn Of A Friendly Card began a lifelong obsession with all things Parsonian.
All sentimentality aside, however, there’s a lot to like on TOAFC. As with all Parsons CDs, the production is impeccably clean, crisp and unmuddied; from the opening bars of “May Be A Price To Pay,” this is an amazingly rich and dynamic sounding album. (I will note that those opening bars are great for shaking entire rooms when played very loud. The bass synthesizer notes will shrug pictures right off the walls, annoy neighbors and generally provide a darned fun time.)
If there’s anything not to like about Turn Of A Friendly Card, it’s that the album had a long-term detrimental effect on the career of the Alan Parsons Project. When the band scored a big hit with “Time” off this CD, Arista Records in their infinite wisdom harangued Parsons for the rest of his contract for more soft-rock ballads. What I find interesting is that “Time,” for all its lovely vocals, is the least interesting track here. Better by far is the extended “Turn Of A Friendly Card” suite, especially the sinister “Snake Eyes,” and the bitter, biting “I Don’t Wanna Go Home.” The theme of TOAFC is gambling and its effect on the human psyche, and the dark nature of taking just one more roll of the dice is aptly represented in these two tracks.
Unlike some people (really, Jason, Captain and freaking-TENNILLE?) I’m proud of my first album. Turn Of A Friendly Card is just that; a turning point, a strong statement, and in my opinion a fine way to start off a lifetime obsession with music.