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The Alan Parsons Project - Ammonia Avenue CD (album) cover

AMMONIA AVENUE

The Alan Parsons Project

 

Crossover Prog

2.95 | 222 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Following in the footsteps of the tremendously successful "Eye In The Sky" album and heading for yet another moment of success with "Ammonia Avenue", if truth is to be told, the APP compositions and arrangements had become too formulaic at the time, so we can say that even if thsi album turns out to be a fine effort at art-rock with a reasonable touch of pop sensibilities, this album marks the decline of the initial APP's progressive-friendly trend. Gone is the majestic splendor of "Tales" and "Friendly Card", and so is the clever dynamics that had made "I Robot" and "Pyramid" so effective in their respective frameworks. basically, this is a facsimile of "Eye" with a slightly more pronounced focus on the energetically rocking aspect of APP's nuclear sound. The opener 'Prime Time' is a catchy tune that is so concentrated on reiterating the 'Eye In The Sky' model that eventually it aborts its potentia drive in spite of its undeniable catchiness. Later on, 'Dancing On A Highwire' repeats the same promising pattern and the same mistake: good, it could have been very good, therefore, it feels less good than it actually may be. On the opposite side, 'Let Me Go Home' is a solid rocker that would have made Foreigner, Journey or early 80s-Kansas quite proud (even enhancing the musical value of the albums that they released at the time). 'One Good Reason' could have been a funny well-crafted instrumental, but bearing lyrics that happen to not be so deep it is limited to a hybrid of early Depeche Mode and Thompson Twins. A much better use of pop-oriented technology is 'You Don't Believe', a song firstly appeared on "The Best Of" - 'You Don't Believe' has a robust melodic development, a rocking attitude, a clever interaction between the synth ornaments and the overdubbed rhythm guitars, plus Zakatek's polished singing delivered with an extra touch of controlled aggressiveness. This has to be the best APP pop song ever! The ballads 'Since The Last Goodbye' and 'Don't Answer Me' inspired melodies, but the fact remains that the single-oriented mentality behind them (and 'Don't Answer Me' was, in fact, a single, a lovely one may I admit) keeps them from developing a greater sensibility (I'm thinking of 'Don't Let It Show' and 'Old & Wise' as examples of thsi greater sensibility I'm referring to). IMHO; the best of "Ammonia Avenue" is in the last 3 pieces. I have already described 'You Don't Believe', so I'll move on now to 'Pipeline', a beautiful composition that manages to develop a simplistic basic idea and bring it up toward a masterful utilization of texturial and orchestral embellishments. All in all, the most impressive embellishments come from Mel Collins' soprano sax, who manages to convey some of the melnacholy he used in KC's 'Starless' to the APP pattern (perhaps his best solo sax on an APP album ever?). The title track is a mini-epic that somehow retakes the magnificence of 'Silence And I' (from the "Eye" album), and even if it doesn't get to match it, it certainly brings in a good vibe of stylish melancholy, in this way closing down the album with a moving effect. So, "Ammonia Avenue" doesn't state APP's finest hour, but it still can be regarded as a fine album.

(Eric, I've listened to many APP albums in your memory during the last few weeks. In the context of the present review, let me thank you for the craftily eerie beauty of 'Pipeline', one of the best APP instrumentals ever, and while I'm at that, let me thank you for all the music - Rest in peace!!)

Cesar Inca | 3/5 |

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