Ammonia Avenue

Alan Parsons Project Ammonia Avenue Cover Art

(1984)

The title itself was the name of the main ‘street’ in a large chemical industrial plant where there were no trees or people to be seen, merely miles of pipes. The album focused on the possible misunderstanding of industrial scientific developments from a public perspective and a lack of understanding of the public from a scientific perspective.

Tracks

Tracks

  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 High Wire
  7. You Don’t Believe
  8. Pipeline (Instrumental)
  9. Ammonia Avenue

Memories

Memories

Eric met John Harvey Jones, Chairman of ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries), on a Concord trip to New York. He invited Eric to visit the ICI plant in Billingham England in the hope that he might be creatively inspired. The first thing Eric saw was a street with miles of pipes, no people, no trees and a sign that said ‘Ammonia Avenue’. He felt it was a great rock and roll name as evocative as ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.

Although until then the music business had not been so dependent on promotional videos, there was now the problem of how do you have a visual representation of a non-performing and faceless group. The record company had the brilliant idea of having an animated video, the first of its kind, for the song ‘Don’t Answer Me’ which was the lead single. It was later nominated in the first annual MTV awards.

Some time after the release, Eric had the pleasure of presenting John Harvey Jones with a gold disc in appreciation of his original introduction to Ammonia Avenue.

The cover of the album is a mandala split picture using a four part split of a photograph of the Avenue itself in Billingham.

Lyrics

Lyrics

All lyrics by Eric Woolfson & Alan Parsons © Woolfsongs Ltd / Careers Music, Inc.

Prime Time

Well even the longest night won’t last forever
But too many hopes and dreams won’t see the light
And all of the plans I make won’t come together

Something in the air (something in the air)
Maybe for the only time in my life
Something in the air (something in the air)
Turning me around and guiding me right

And it’s a prime time, maybe the stars were right
I had a premonition, it’s gonna be my turn tonight
Gonna be my turn tonight

Well even the brightest star won’t shine forever
But all of the hands I play are working out right
And every move I make feels like a winner

Something in the air (something in the air)
Maybe for the only time in my life
Something in the air (something in the air)
Turning me around and guiding me right

And it’s a prime time, maybe the stars were right
I had a premonition, it’s gonna be my turn tonight
Gonna be my turn tonight
Gonna be my turn tonight
Gonna be my turn tonight

(Something in the air)
(Something in the air)

And it’s a prime time

Let Me Go Home

Waiting till the sun goes down
Shadows walk in the night
Living in a fantasy
In and out of dreams
Nothing is the way it seems

Let me go home
I had a bad night leave me alone
Let me go home
I’ve had a hard time being on my own

Every way I turn my eyes
Shadows pass in the night
Haunted by reality
Living out of dreams
Nothing is the way it seems

Let me go home
I had a bad night leave me alone
Let me go home
I’ve had a hard time being on my own

I’m waiting till the sun goes down
Shadows talk in the night
Living out a fantasy
Slipping into dreams
Nothing is the way it seems

Let me go home
I had a bad night leave me alone
Let me go home
I’ve had a hard time being on my own

Let me go home
I had a bad night leave me alone
Let me go home
I’ve had a hard night

Let me go home

One Good Reason

Gimme one good reason why I should listen to you
I need one good reason why I should do
What you want me to
Gimme some air or I can’t breathe
I can’t see so I can’t believe
Show me just a little more
Oh oh gimme one

Gimme one good reason why I should listen to you
Just one good reason why I should do
What you want me to
Under your thumb ain’t no place to hide
I can’t choose and I can’t decide
Gotta be a better way
Oh oh gimme one, gimme one

I keep making the same mistake
No win no lose no give and no take
I’m just playing a simple game
And I don’t wanna ask you again and again

For one good reason why I should listen to you
Just one good reason why I should do
What you want me to
Under your spell ain’t no place to be
Don’t mess around with a fool like me
Help me just a little more
Oh oh gimme one, gimme one

Well I keep making the same mistake
No win no lose no give and no take
And I’m just playing a simple game
And I don’t wanna ask you again and again

For one good reason why I should listen to you
Just one good reason why I should do
What you want me to
Pull on the string you hold in your hand
Making me jump like a one man band
Gotta be a better way
Oh oh gimme one

(One good reason) One good reason
(One good reason) One good reason

Since The Last Goodbye

The hours, the minutes seem to fly
And since the last goodbye
You and I came a long way
The nights, too short to fill with sleep
Or falling in too deep
Seem so far away now

Memories, all we share between us
Everything we were, all that we remain
But memories somehow came between us
Breaking up two minds that were one and the same

The years are moments passing by
No time to wonder why
You and I went the wrong way
The days too short to fill with dreams
Or question what it means
Are a part of me now

Remember all the leaves were falling
Walking hand in hand, standing in the rain
Remember distant voices calling
Whispers in the dark, I can hear them again

Since the last goodbye
It’s all the wrong way round
Since the last goodbye
It’s all the wrong way round

Memories, all we share between us
Everything we were, all that we remain
But memories somehow came between us
Breaking up two minds that were one and the same

Since the last goodbye
It’s all the wrong way round
Since the last goodbye
It’s all the wrong way round (since the last goodbye)

Since the last goodbye
It’s all the wrong way round (it’s all the wrong way round)
Since the last goodbye
It’s all the wrong way round

Don’t Answer Me

If you believe in the power magic
I can change your mind
And if you need to believe in someone
Turn and look behind
When we were living in a dream world
Clouds got in the way
We gave it up in a moment of madness
And threw it all away

Don’t answer me, don’t break the silence
Don’t let me win
Don’t answer me, stay on your island
Don’t let me in

Run away and hide from everyone
Can you change the things we’ve said and done?

If you believe in the power of magic
It’s all a fantasy
So if you need to believe in someone
Just pretend it’s me
It ain’t enough that we meet as strangers
I can’t set you free
So will you turn your back forever on what you mean to me?

Don’t answer me, don’t break the silence
Don’t let me win
Don’t answer me, stay on your island
Don’t let me in

Run away and hide from everyone
Can you change the things we’ve said and done?

Don’t answer me, don’t break the silence
Don’t let me win
Don’t answer me, stay on your island
Don’t let me in

Run away and hide from everyone

Don’t answer me, don’t break the silence
Don’t let me win
Don’t answer me, stay on your island
Don’t let me in

Can you change the things we’ve said and done?

Don’t answer me

Dancing on a High Wire

We’re living in a different reality
We’re toeing the same line
We give in we call it neutrality
A joke with no punchline
The silver plated hero
Meets the golden hearted whore
The odds’ll give you zero
She’ll be leaving in a few days more

Movin’ on forever, maybe she don’t care
Holding on together, maybe it just ain’t there

You’re dancing on a high wire
You need to be so sure
There used to be a lifeline
There isn’t anymore

We are the same with no similarity
We talk at the same time
We believe in freedom and charity
As long as I get mine
The ivory madonna
Is walking through the door
You watch her from a window
It doesn’t matter anymore

Moving on forever, maybe she don’t care
Holding on together, maybe it just ain’t there

You’re dancing on a high wire
You need to be so sure
There used to be a life-line
There isn’t anymore

Moving on forever, maybe she don’t care
Holding on together, maybe it just ain’t there

You’re dancing on a high wire
You need to be so sure
There used to be a life-line
There isn’t anymore

Dancing on a high wire
You need to be so sure
There used to be a life-line
There isn’t anymore

You Don’t Believe

My eyes with your vision
My choice but always your decision
My play with your direction
Well it’s my lead but always your connection

But when I look into your eyes you don’t believe me
I can see it in your eyes you don’t believe

My words, your expression
My land, always your possession
My song, your production
My expense is always your deduction

But when I look into your eyes you don’t believe me
I can see it in your eyes you don’t believe

And the face I see before me
Is both sides of a mirror
You really know you’ve got a hold on me
And the face you’re looking into
Is both sides of a window
Any way you look you see through me

My fame, your reflection
My weakness always your protection
Well it’s my terms on your conditions
And they’re my tunes but they’re your compositions

But when I look into your eyes you don’t believe me
I can see it in your eyes you don’t believe

And the face I see before me
Is both sides of a mirror
You really know you’ve got a hold on me
And the face you’re looking into
Is both sides of a window
Any way you look you see through me

But when I look into your eyes you don’t believe me
I can see it in your eyes you don’t believe

Pipeline

(Instrumental)

Ammonia Avenue

Is there no sign of light as we stand in the darkness?
Watching the sun arise
Is there no sign of life as we gaze at the waters?
Into the stranger’s eyes

And who are we to criticize or scorn the things that they do?
For we shall seek and we shall find Ammonia Avenue

If we call for the proof and we question the answers
Only the doubt will grow
Are we blind to the truth or a sign to believe in?
Only the wise will know

And word by word they handed down the light that shines today
And those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray

Yes those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray

When you can’t hear the rhyme and you can’t see the reason
Why should the hope remain?
For a man will be tired and his soul will grow weary
Living his life in vain

And who are we to justify the right in all we do?
Until we seek until we find Ammonia Avenue

Through all the doubt somehow they knew

And stone by stone they built it high until the sun broke through
A ray of hope, a shining light Ammonia Avenue

Expanded Edition

Expanded Edition Includes these Bonus Tracks:

Don’t Answer Me (Early Rough Mix)

Eric was a big fan of the early Phil Spector sounds and always wanted to make a record that sounded something like his ‘Wall of Sound’. This bonus track is an early mix, which had not yet had the many layers of overdubs piled on top of the basic track. Alan, who had been an assistant engineer when Phil Spector had worked with the Beatles, was not as enthusiastic as Eric was about trying to re-create the Spector sound. However after a lot of pleading on Eric’s part, Alan eventually said ‘I suppose you mean this’ and pushed a few buttons and faders on the desk, immediately swamping the track with the most glorious reverb effect which can be heard on the final mix and contrasts with the much more basic approach on this bonus version. There is an included “false start” completely devoid of overdubs which is even emptier and gives an insight into what instrumentation was laid on the first takes of the song.

You Don’t Believe (Demo)

This was a demo played and programmed into a Fairlight sampling and sequencing system – a sophisticated computer-based instrument for its time. Although the guitar is a sampled sound it remained in evidence on the final studio version since it had a character we liked, rather than replacing it with real guitars.

Since the Last Goodbye (Chris Rainbow Vocal Overdubs)

This is a piece of Chris Rainbow ‘magic’ which was so well embedded in the final mix that it cannot be heard with the clarity demonstrated here.

Since the Last Goodbye (Eric Guide Vocal – Rough Mix)

This track gives a good indication of how a song can evolve lyrically, very often ending up in a more simplified version, as in this case. What at one stage appeared to be an intrinsic part of the song (heard here), was eventually cut out.

You Don’t Believe (Instrumental Tribute to The Shadows)

Sometimes a track meant to be an instrumental, turned into a song and sometimes a song turned into an instrumental. Although Alan had intended all along that this would be a track with vocals – under some protest he agreed to make an alternate version with Ian Bairnson’s lead guitar (sounding uncannily like Hank Marvin) inserted over the basic Fairlight track. In the end, Eric agreed to try a vocal version and completed the lyrics, and this instrumental version was excluded – “Thank God” adds Alan!

Dancing on a High Wire/ Spotlight (Work In Progress)

As a writer, Eric would often come up with several different elements or ideas, then we would combine them together for a finished song. Basically, we dealt with three sections – a verse, a chorus and a middle or bridge. In this case, we attempted to put the pieces together from two different songs, but as often happened in the studio, as we continued to re-work the musical ideas, this combination was superseded as can be heard in the final mix.

Ammonia Avenue Part 1 (Eric Demo Vocal – Rough Mix)

Although this is a demo vocal of a track where Eric also sang the lead on the master, it does contain some differences to the final version. This was a snapshot at a time when he was clearly still working on lyrical ideas so you get a sense of the composer at work!

Ammonia Avenue (Orchestral Overdub)

An outstanding example of Andrew Powell’s brilliant orchestral scoring, soloed here, and much as we would hear it in the studio when it was recorded, with the backing track bleeding through headphones worn by the orchestra.

Credits

Credits

Ammonia Avenue

1. PRIME TIME 5:03
Vocal – Eric Woolfson
Additional Vocals – Chris Rainbow
Wurlitzer Piano – Eric Woolfson
Electric and Acoustic Guitars – Ian Bairnson
Bass – David Paton
Drums and Percussion – Stuart Elliott

2. LET ME GO HOME 3:20
Vocal – Lenny Zakatek
Guitars – Ian Bairnson
Piano – Eric Woolfson
Fairlight Guitars – Alan Parsons
Bass – David Paton
Drums – Stuart Elliott

3. ONE GOOD REASON 3:36
Vocals – Eric Woolfson
Additional Vocals – Chris Rainbow
Wurlitzer Piano, Synth – Eric Woolfson
Guitars – Ian Bairnson
Bass – David Paton
Drums and Percussion – Stuart Elliott

4. SINCE THE LAST GOODBYE 4:34
Vocals – Chris Rainbow
Electric and Acoustic Guitars – Ian Bairnson
Bass – David Paton
Drums and Percussion – Stuart Elliott
Orchestra Arranged and Conducted by Andrew Powell

5. DON’T ANSWER ME 4:13
Vocal – Eric Woolfson
Backing Vocals – Chris Rainbow, Eric Woolfson
Keyboards – Eric Woolfson, Chris Rainbow
Fairlight – Alan Parsons
Electric Guitars – Ian Bairnson
Acoustic Guitars – Ian Bairnson, David Paton
Bass – David Paton
Drums and Percussion – Stuart Elliott
Sax Solo – Mel Collins

6. DANCING ON A HIGHWIRE 4:22
Vocals – Colin Blunstone
Keyboards – Eric Woolfson
Electric and Acoustic Guitars – Ian Bairnson
Bass – David Paton
Drums, Percussion and Simmons Toms – Stuart Elliott

7. YOU DON’T BELIEVE 4:26
Vocal – Lenny Zakatek
Fairlight and Linn Drum – Alan Parsons
Additional Keyboards – Eric Woolfson
Guitars and Guitar Synth – Ian Bairnson
Bass – David Paton
Additional Drums – Stuart Elliott

8. PIPELINE (Instrumental) 3:56
Fairlight – Alan Parsons
Sax – Mel Collins
Acoustic Guitars – Ian Bairnson
Bass – David Paton
Drums – Stuart Elliott
Orchestra Arranged and Conducted by Andrew Powell

9. AMMONIA AVENUE 6:30
Vocal – Eric Woolfson
Piano and Fairlight – Eric Woolfson
Backing Vocals – Chris Rainbow
Electric, Acoustic and Spanish Guitars – Ian Bairnson
Bass – David Paton
Drums and Percussion – Stuart Elliott
Orchestra Arranged and Conducted by Andrew Powell

Produced by Alan Parsons
Executive Producer – Eric Woolfson
Engineered by Alan Parsons
Assistant Engineer – Tony Richards
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London
The Philharmonia Orchestra
Leader – Christopher Warren-Green
Digital Master Recorded on the Sony PCM 1610 system

Very Special Thanks to: John Harvey Jones
Special Thanks to Smokey, Hazel, David Rockberger,
Don Cohn, Leonard Green, Aron Misan, Chris Bishop,
Jane Moss, John Wallace, Eric Prince, Ian Grimble,
Peter James, Haydn Bendall, David Cooper,
Ken Townsend and all at Abbey Road.
Not forgetting Bob Buziak

Original Sleeve – Design: STd
Photography – STd, Fell/Hurworth

All tracks written by Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons
Published by Woolfsongs Ltd/Careers Music Inc, (BMI)
administered by Universal Music
(p) 1984 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment