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'The wands of smoke are rising...
on 1 February 2012
...from the walls of the Bastille'! Rock'n'roll or what?! Delighted to have this on a decent re-master at last. Time Passages was originally released in 1978 as the follow-up to `Year of the Cat' and despite the same immaculate Alan Parsons production and some strong songs it always seems to have been rather overshadowed by its predecessor. Shame really, because this mixture of historical epics, gentler folky numbers and a couple of blatant (and successful) attempts aimed at American AOR radio is as fine a piece of work as Al has ever produced.
The title track was apparently written `to order' as a follow-up single to 'Year of the Cat' and Al always seems to have played down its merits, but from the retro-chime of the electric piano intro through Phil Kenzie's obligatory sax solo its always been one of my favourite songs, nudging the listener to consider the threads of their past through a straightforward but evocative lyric. Elsewhere `Valentina Way `rocks as hard as anything Al's ever done (OK, so not that hard then!) while Timeless Skies and Almost Lucy are first-rate, more acoustic numbers. `The Palace of Versailles' (see the title of this review) is possibly the strongest of the historical songs, complete with the excellent Tim Renwick on lead guitar, but `A Man for All Seasons' and the marvellously claustrophobic `Life in Dark Water' are also memorable. `Time Passages' and `Song on the Radio' both notched up respectable single sales in the US.
Listening to 'Time Passages' it's hard to believe that in 1978 the tidal wave of punk was aiming to wash away `this sort of thing'. Glad this album found a rock to cling to and that those top blokes at Rhino have done a decent job on the re-master!