AMERICA have long been maligned: CROSBY, STILLS & NASH copyists; light-weight EAGLES. Soft Rock meanderers. A Rolling Stone compendium was dismissive enough to give their whole studio album catolgue 1* (excluding their greatest hits), implying that apart from the radio friendly hits they have nothing further to offer. This throwaway review could not be further from the truth.
AMERICA, when they hit the mark, create a back-porch sensibility which is both timeless and refreshing. Probably the best example of this is their debut album AMERICA which doesn't suffer from the sometimes treacley over production of the George Martin produced follow ups.
The original pressing apparently didn't feature the transatlantic hit "A Horse With No Name". It was only following the conclusion of the album that Dewey Bunnell entered the Morgan Studios in London to record this their most famous song, and which was then added to future pressings.
At the time of its release with its three way harmonies, the CS&N comparisons were expected and yet it is only "Children" with its hippie idealism that shares any real comparison. The remainder fit more squarely within the West Coast COUNTRY ROCK mould of JACKSON BROWNE and the EAGLES and yet pre-date both of these artist's debut albums by 1 year. Not bad for a trio of teenagers straight out of college in the UK (Bushey, Watford).
The album features many highlights and includes Gerry Beckley's plaintive piano led ballad "I Need You", Dewey's affecting "Three Roses" with its superb interwined acoustic guitar playing, the ambitious "Sandman", and Dan Peek's emotive "Never Found The Time".
At a time when Country Rock is currently in vogue (Alt. Country/Americana/No Depression - call it what you will) and is receiving critical acclaim from all quarters, it is worth remembering that AMERICA's debut is not too far removed from today's contempories. So dismiss what the critics have to say and buy this forgotten gem.
JS - Kings Langley, UK