America had been experiencing a lack of commercial success for a while, but they climbed back into the Top Ten on the US Billboard singles chart with the infectiously catchy, minor-keyed feel-good song "You Can Do Magic"--it was written, produced, and largely played by Russ Ballard who had formerly been a member of Argent, & it's the track that opens this 1982 album, "View From the Ground". It's been said that "You Can Do Magic" is basically the trademark America sound updated for the early '80s with the addition of synthesizers. That's funny & highly misleading because the song really doesn't sound updated at all--there is that "magic" effect that casually pops up on the chorus (is even that an actual synthesizer??--it sounds like it could be a piano run through some effects), but otherwise the song has acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, electric piano, drums, vocals... and no audible synthesizer whatsoever! The song really doesn't sound like it was recorded in 1981 or 1982. And that goes for nearly the entire album--much like Crosby, Stills & Nash on their 1982 album "Daylight Again", "A View From The Ground" finds America stuck in the '70s, either unwilling or unable to "modernize" their sound. And I say more power to them--I give these guys major credit for not jumping on the synth-pop bandwagon and for keeping their sound supremely tasteful on here. Legendary musicians Jeff Porcaro, Steve Lukather, Dean Parks, Christopher Cross, Carl Wilson, & others all appear on here, and any fan of that "laidback '70s California soft rock sound" will fall for this album lock, stock & barrel. "Never Be Lonely" is an irresistible up tempo song with great vocal hooks & jangly guitar including a fade strongly reminiscent of the Cure (!). "You Girl" is a bit sappy but has a super-catchy chorus & a nice chord sequence. "Inspector Mills" is corny, but very nicely tuneful--it's an ironic title since Gerry Beckley looked a lot like Mike Mills of R.E.M. (sorry, couldn't resist). They try to rock out on "Desperate Love" & "Even the Score" and they end up in arena rock territory--they seem rather forced, but the former does have a really catchy chorus. "Love On the Vine" has splendidly tuneful verses, & the ballad "Right Before Your Eyes" offers yet another catchy chorus. The mid-tempo "Jody" is an utterly characteristic, yet rote Russ Ballard love song--it`s not a disaster, but it`s dull & clearly filler. Overall though, with the album being so tastefully produced & offering so much catchiness, it's strongly recommended. Thumbs up to One Way Records for issuing "A View From the Ground" on CD (they've done the same for all of America's 1979-1984 albums as well)--the sound quality on the disc is solid, although unfortunately songwriter's credits are not listed.