Alan Parsons Project: Ammonia Avenue (remaster)
After the Top 10 success of 1982's Eye In The Sky, The Alan Parsons Project were hitting something of a commercial peak, the title track itself giving them their biggest ever hit single climbing as high as # 3. Two years later they returned with Ammonia Avenue which, whilst not scaling the same heights, took them back into the Billboard Top 20 with a concept that centred around environmental concerns and saving the planet. Of course this was the mid - 80's and there was plenty of new technology for studio boffins Parsons and Woolfson to experiment with and at times this seems to drag them down with the seemingly random interjection of synth effects at times sounding jarringly out of place. Woolfson was the featured vocalist on four of the albums nine tracks and makes his presence felt immediately on the upbeat, radio friendly "Prime Time", the chugging riff and insistent melody seeking to replicate the commercial slickness of "Eye In The Sky". Lenny Zakatek gives his usual high quality performance on the lightweight pop of "Let Me Go Home" and much of Ammonia Avenue is full of hooks, taking a more poppier direction and with less of the progressive tendencies of some of the Project's earlier releases.
Chris Rainbow provides the vocal on the throwaway ballad "Since the Last Goodbye" and it seems like the Project are on auto-pilot before Mel Collins adds a touch of class with his sax solo to the otherwise unmemorable "Don't Answer Me". Collins is also featured on the ambient instrumental "Pipeline" with the six and a half minute title track closing out the albums original running order in typical Project style and does at least showcase a few prog embellishments with some nice acoustic touches. Overall there is a distinct feeling that perhaps their hearts weren't really in it this time around and this now rates as one of the Project's more mediocre efforts and newcomers should approach with caution. What makes the current version more appealing is, of course, the bonus tracks and there are no fewer than eight included in the remastered package which makes it a far more worthy purchase than it would otherwise have been.
1. Prime Time
2. Let Me Go Home
3. One Good Reason
4. Since The Last Goodbye.
5. Don't Answer Me
6. Dancing On A Highwire.
7. You Don't Believe
9. Ammonia Avenue
10. Don't Answer Me (early rough mix)
11. You Don't Believe (demo)
12. Since The Last Goodbye (Chris vocal overdubs)
13. Since The Last Goodbye (Eric guide vocal)
14. You Don't Believe
15. Dancing On A Highwire/Spotlight (work in progress)
16. Ammonia Avenue (Eric demo vocal)
17. Ammonia Avenue (Orchestral overdub)
Added: March 19th 2009
Reviewer: Dean Pedley
Related Link: Band Website
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|Alan Parsons Project: Ammonia Avenue (remaster)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-03-19 10:29:33
The Alan Parson Project returned in 1984 with Ammonia Avenue, two years removed from their smash Eye In the Sky that saw them reach the pinnacle of their success. Ammonia Avenue was again somewhat of a concept album, based on a petro-chemical plant in England that actually took up an entire avenue. This release saw the music of the APP take on an even more pop-rock direction, as most of the progressive tendencies of earlier albums took a backseat to breezy pop hooks, lush orchestrations, and rock arrangements. Regardless, there's certainly a fair share of highlights here, including the rocking opening cuts "Prime Time" and "Let Me Go Home", as the APP moved away from sizzling instrumental tunes that normally open up their albums in favor of these two guitar-led rockers. Synthesizers seem to be taking a lesser role here as well, as the APP favor guitars and piano more than what we've seen on previous albums. Other strong tunes are the dreamy tracks "One Good Reason" and "Since the Last Goodbye", the ELO-ish "Don't Answer Me" (featuring a great vocal from Eric Woolfson), the electronic tinged "Dancing On a Highwire", and the dramatic pop rock of "You Don't Believe", a tune with a great hook and plenty of bubbling synths & biting guitar riffs. The regular part of the album only had one instrumental, that being "Pipeline", and it's a good one, featuring the sax lines of former King Crimson member Mel Collins and loads of synth programming from Alan Parsons. The closing title cut is also notable, perhaps one of the only tunes on the album that hints at the older prog sound of the APP.
As always with the APP remasters, you get a batch of bonus tracks, mostly demos and rough edits, but here you have an instrumental version of "You Don't Believe" which is quite good, and an orchestral overdub of the title track.
Overall, Amonia Avenue is without a doubt a solid release from the Alan Parson Project, perhaps not as essential as their late 70's/early 80's output, but a solid entry nonetheless.
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