Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Alan Parsons Project (IV): decline

This is another extremely busy week for me, and it doesn't look this'll change soon. Anyway I didn't only write about Eye in the Sky last week, but also about two more TAPP albums so I just added a couple of things and voilĂ ! And of course I have the moral duty of spamming you with the facebook page for this. It's only good for posting random songs here and there as well as the posts, and I created it because a friend suggested it, but I want to keep it in case I get nice suggestions there.

Anyway, after Eye in the Sky, The Alan Parsons Project took their second and last “gap year”, as 1983 would see no albums from the British band come out. Then, there would be four more albums in four consecutive years, but, sadly, and even though they were reasonably good albums, a slow but steady decline could be felt in them.

The first of those four albums was Ammonia Avenue, which came out in 1984. It features two or three of my favourite songs from the band and a bunch of decent but forgettable songs. Prime Time is one of those songs I’m pretty sure I heard as a kid and liked a lot, but I had no idea who was it from, actually when I heard it on this CD, I had forgotten this song existed. Very catchy stuff, but I guess I like it even more because of what I just said (I don’t know if it even makes sense, but that’s how it is!). The video for the song is kind of... strange?

Then there’s Pipeline, which is one of their top 3 instrumentals. As with many other songs, I can’t properly explain what this song makes me feel, but I just can’t get enough of it. The structure is the one I’ve explained quite a few times in the previous posts: a relatively simple melody which is enriched by more and more instruments. I read some guy in youtube saying it’s a perfect song for driving at night, and I think he may be right. Imagine a dark road that goes on endlessly in the middle of nowhere, no cars, and that song. Good combination.

Dancing on a Highwire is relatively simple soft rock song, nothing special there from an unbiased point of view, but I find myself listening to it very often for a reason I can’t explain. And finally there’s the title track and last song of the album, Ammonia Avenue, probably the best song here along with Pipeline. It slightly reminds me of Silence and I because of Woolfson’s voice and the instrumental intermezzo which sometimes is more cheerful that the sung part (although here that intermezzo is not so brilliant).

And the rest of the album? Slightly disappointing. Let Me Go Home, One Good Reason and You Don’t Believe are fillers in the most strict sense of the word. Totally forgettable songs, in my opinion. Finally there are a couple of cheesy songs, Since the Last Goodbye and Don’t Answer Me, which is one of the band’s best known songs, although it doesn’t quite really do the trick for me. The video is very cool though.

1985’s Project album, Vulture Culture is a bit strange in a way. For the first and only time, there are no arrangements by Andrew Powell, and this makes the album a bit too plain and repetitive. On the other hand, this CD is somewhat more consistent than its predecessor. Not necessarily better, though. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter, what does matter is that The Alan Parsons Project was producing noticeably worse music.

Oh, for those who love the 80s, this is The Album. Speaking in Star Wars style, the synths are strong in this one. Just check Separate Lives. Or, if you have the remastered version of the album, check the alternative mix version of this song. A song which, by the way, is definitely too similar to another track from the album, Sooner or Later.

I guess once you’ve listened to one song of this album, you’ve listened to all of them. It’s not easy to hightlight songs here, all the songs are decent, but none of them is especially good. Let’s Talk About Me is good mostly because of its video, the beautiful ballad Days Are Numbers may be the best song on the album, and... I guess the other little jewel is a bonus track, the acoustic No Answers, Only Questions, featuring Woolfson’s sweet voice. The album is ok to listen on a lazy afternoon if you don’t want to really think about what you’re listening to, but that’s basically it.


  1. "Don’t Answer Me" was for many of us our introduction to the band because among the handful of music videos they ever made this one's got the most air-play on MTV back then.

    Plus, being a kid in the early 80's and seeing a "cartoon" with music was way cool.

    So why do you think they were getting worse? Was it that they were putting out fewer great songs per album; or because the music was not as good (the great ones not as good as the great ones of before, and the bad ones worse than the bad ones of before); or was it a change in musical style?

    They certainly were making fewer soft-rock songs, I think. But they've always been a pseudo-pop band from their second or third album.

    Incidentally, have you checked out the album "Keats", put out by some of APP vocals back on 1984?

    Really good album, with nice soft sounds, especially "Avalanche" and "Hollywood heart".

    Most of the racks are Youtube.

    Also, since you enjoy many of APP's instrumentals, they did out out an "Instrumentals" album which has most of theirs.

    Best of luck brother.

    1. Fewer great songs per album fors ure, but I think it was mainly that the average quality was much poorer. Take The Turn of a Friendly Card... the worst songs there are still more than decent... Ammonia Avenue, for example, has 3 or 4 songs that are totally irrelevant, in my opinion. Vulture Culture doesn't have a single masterpiece (Days are Numbers is very good but in each of the previous albums you can find two or three better songs, even more). Same with the last two albums (I'll probably write about them next week and finish off with the band)

      I haven't checked out Keats, I'll do it on Monday, I can't this weekend. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Cheers man!

  2. Found your blog surfing Alan Parsons on YouTube. Very nice. I'll be back