(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether ~ Alan Parsons Project

The Alan Parsons Project was a British progressive rock band active between 1975 and 1990, founded by Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons.

Alan Parsons met Eric Woolfson in the canteen of Abbey Road Studios in the summer of 1974. Parsons already acted as assistant engineer on The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be, had recently engineered Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and produced several acts for EMI Records. Woolfson, a songwriter and composer, was working as a session pianist; he also composed material for a concept album idea based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

Parsons asked Woolfson to become his manager and Woolfson managed Parsons’ career as a producer and engineer through a string of successes including Pilot, Steve Harley, Cockney Rebel, John Miles, Al Stewart, Ambrosia and The Hollies. Parsons commented at the time that he felt frustrated in having to accommodate the views of some of the artists, which he felt interfered with his production. Woolfson came up with the idea of making an album based on developments in the film business, where directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick were the focal point of the film’s promotion, rather than individual film stars. If the film business was becoming a director’s medium, Woolfson felt the music business might well become a producer’s medium.

Recalling his earlier Edgar Allan Poe material, Woolfson saw a way to combine his and Parsons’ respective talents. Parsons would produce and engineer songs written by the two, and the Alan Parsons Project was born. Their first album, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, including major contributions by all members of Pilot, was a success. The song “The Raven” features lead vocals by actor Leonard Whiting, and, according to the 2007 remastered album linear notes, was the first rock song ever to utilise a digital vocoder, with Alan Parsons speaking lyrics through it. The claim is spurious, however, as Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” predates “Raven” by two years.

(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether

The song comes from Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether about mental illness.

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JUST what you need to make you feel better
Just what you need to make you feel
Just what you need to make you feel better
Just what you need to make you feel

At the far end of your tether
And your thoughts won’t fit together
So you sleep light or whatever
And the night goes on forever
Then your mind change like the weather
You’re in need of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether

Even clouds seem bright and breezy
‘Cause the livin’ is free and easy
See the rat race in a new way
Like you’re wakin’ up to a new day
It’s a wise thing if you’re clever
Take a lead from Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether

Find the end of a rainbow
Fly wherever the winds blow
Laugh at life like a sideshow
Just what you need to make you feel better

Satisfaction altogether
Guaranteed by Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether

Find the end of a rainbow
Fly wherever the winds blow
Laugh at life like a sideshow
Just what you need to make you feel better

Don’t stop bringin’ the girls round
Don’t start havin’ a showdown
Keep on handin’ the jug round
All that you need is wine and good company

  • Audio from the 1976 album, Tales of Mystery and Imagination of Edgar Allen Poe:

album-tales-of-mystery and imagination (816)

About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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