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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Alan Parsons

Ammonia Avenue

Review by Gary Hill

The seventh disc from the Alan Parsons Project, this came out in 1984. I really disregarded it at the time. Part of that was a reaction to the newer, more pop oriented sound of the band. I came to that conclusion largely because of the single "Don't Answer Me." I have to say that my opinion of that track has changed quite a bit over the years. I really appreciate it a lot more these days. Still, there are some odd changes in the band's sound here. Some of them work pretty well, while others are less successful. I previously reviewed one of the songs here, but since my opinion of the cut has changed since the review, I rewrote that review quite a bit for use on this set.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Prime Time
Dramatic, yet restrained, there is a bit of a jazzy edge to this piece. It has a real 80s sonic texture, but there are still hints of classic Alan Parsons sound in the mix. When the vocals join, that element is more pronounced.
Let Me Go Home
Here they turn things atypically hard rocking. This almost feels a bit like some hair metal tune. This doesn't really feel all that much like Parsons, and is just not that strong.
One Good Reason
Now, this is more like what you expect from Parsons. It's not the strongest song ever from the act, but it is classy and works pretty well.
Since the Last Goodbye
More of a ballad, this is evocative and quite pretty. It's very much in line with the kind of music the listener expects from Parsons. It gets more powered up as it continues.
Don't Answer Me
This was the single from the album. While it's decidedly Alan Parsons in tone and sound, for some reason I didn't really like it when it first came out. I have to say that time has been kind to it. It seems to have grown on me, and really fits so well with the rest of the catalog. It is also a highlight of the set. I know that the saxophone solo was one thing that I didn't really care for at the time. It also has weathered the years pretty well. The trouble was that at the time it was a cliché in music. Taken out of that context, it's a nice touch.
Dancing on a Highwire
Some of the proggiest sounds of the disc opens this in a cool mellower arrangement. As other elements join it takes on a very typical (and cool) Parsons texture. This is an effective melodic rocker that is another standout on the disc. It's pretty meaty. It really feels like something that would have fit well on an earlier Parsons album.
You Don't Believe
This cut feels a bit like Alan Parsons meets Survivor. It does have some trademark Parsons elements, though. It is a good tune, but not really a standout.
Pipeline
I like this instrumental piece quite a bit. It has a real trademark Parsons sound. There are some intriguing shifts and changes, yet it is a reasonably straight line number.
Ammonia Avenue
The album's title track is also the closer. Piano brings it into being. Acoustic guitar joins after a bit. Then the vocals come in, and the trademark Parsons ballad approach is in place as just the piano and voice carry the cut. There are other elements that come across here and there as icing on the cake. It runs through in a mostly straight-line way from there for a time, but then the cut shifts into a more purely progressive rock based movement for an extended instrumental section. There are some killer tones and riffs. It eventually makes it back to a more powered up version of the song proper for the return of the vocals.
 
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