- Chasing the Rainbow
- Indian Summer
- One Chance
- Always Love
- Ride On
- Love & Leaving
- Look at Me Now
- This Time
- Work to Do
- All I Think About Is You
- Walk in the Woods
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Even during its '70s heyday, soft rock never gained much respect, and of those soft rockers, perhaps no other act received as much disdain as America, a group inspired equally by the folk-rock of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the pop of the Beatles. Aside from epitomizing the qualities that made soft rock anathema for hipsters and rock critics -- America, like the style itself, was too smooth, melodic, and square to be considered cool -- it's quite likely that the band received the brunt of the criticism because they wore their influences too plainly: their 1972 number one hit "A Horse with No Name" sounded uncannily like Neil Young, and they were produced by the fifth Beatle, George Martin, two moves that made it appear to some that America was acting as heirs to a throne that they did not deserve. They were also seen, along with fellow California soft rockers the Eagles, as diluting and perverting the ideals of folk-rock, turning it into bland pap for the masses, and they were scorned by the taste-makers for it: the second edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide rated all their studio albums between zero and one stars, while Robert Christgau rated their 1975 compilation History: America's Greatest Hits a C-. America may not have been acclaimed, but they were popular, with "Ventura Highway," "A Horse with No Name," "Tin Man," "Lonely People," and "Sister Golden Hair" all reaching the Billboard Top Ten in the first half of the '70s, all on the strength of their impeccable melodic craft and easy, sunny vibes -- qualities that turned out to be enduring, too, as these songs remained staples on oldies and soft pop stations well into the new millennium, earning new fans along the way, fans who weren't preoccupied with America's image and enjoyed the music on its own mellow terms. Among these fans were Gen-Xers like Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and former Smashing Pumpkin James Iha, whose 1998 solo debut, Let It Come Down, was bathed in a hazy, sunny glow that was unmistakably reminiscent of America. Generation X was notorious for ironically embracing and reviving '70s icons, but there was no trace of irony behind Schlesinger and Iha's love of America, as their production of Here & Now, America's 16th studio album and first unabashed attempt at a comeback, proves. Schlesinger and Iha achieve something remarkable with Here & Now: they leave no fingerprints behind. The duo helms a production that is on paper a textbook indie rock hipster comeback record -- complete with cameos by Ryan Adams and Ben Kweller and covers of My Morning Jacket and Nada Surf -- but the finished album never sounds self-conscious or cloying, it sounds true to the sound and spirit of America. From the warm, welcoming production to the sweet harmonies, mellow vibes, and smooth melodies, Here & Now could easily be mistaken for an America album from the mid-'70s. There has been no attempt to modernize the group; Schlesinger and Iha have merely brought Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell back to their strengths. Gone are the heavy layers of synthesizers that plagued America since the early '80s; gone are the earnest but meandering adult pop that made such '90s albums as Hourglass and Human Nature underwhelming. In their place are layers of melody and harmony presented simply and cleanly through songs that so easy to enjoy that it's easy to overlook how well constructed they are. This understated craft also means that Here & Now does not produce any revelations about the band or how they influenced the modern musicians who wisely blend into the background here, but the quiet nature of this album fits comfortably with the best of the band's work. Indeed, like the hits that are still heard on oldies radio -- and are also revived here in a live bonus disc, where Beckley and Bunnell perform every song on History -- the songs on Here & Now are appealing upon first listen but reveal their true strength upon repeated spins, as the melodies begin to catch hold in the subconscious and the warmth of the music feels friendly and familiar. On these repeated listens, Here & Now gains stature and it not only feels like a successful comeback, but the record that America fans of all ages have been waiting decades to hear.
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Disc one (Oustanding) is all new material that is outstanding writing and playing in classic AMERICA style. AMERICA originals One Chance, Love & Leaving, Ride On, This Time bonus track Here & Now as well as Golden, Always Love and Work To Do are top notch and will remind you of classics like To Each His Own, Only in Your Heart, Baby It's Up to You, Sister Golden Hair, Ventura Highway, I Need You and All My Life. AMERICA's 20+ albums have produced several quality ones since Dan Peek (Lonely People, Don't Cross the River, Woman Tonight) left the group. This CD of new material is AMERICA with a energized sound and swagger brought to life by producers Adam Schlesinger and James Iha. Thanks for bringing back that classic AMERICA sound we grew up listening to while making new music with that's fresh and relevant. Great AMERICAn music - easy listening music to relax and rejuvenate your soul in this crazy world we live in. The second disc (okay, but not great) is AMERICA's greatest hits recorded live at the XM Theater last fall and is lacking the studio excellence we are accustom to hearing over the last 30+ years. Gerry and Dewey - thanks for continuing to make great music and SONY's Burgundy Records for bringing AMERCIA back to life and the autographed CD jacket.
This is the best new album from the duo of America since Alibi (1981). It is richly organic and very much a return to their wonderful 70's sound. The only thing that would have possibly made it outstanding would have been the inclusion of Dan Peek. While I have no proof, I think Beckely and Bunnell have no interest in allowing Dan back into the fold. Beyond that one thing, the songs and the voices of Beckley and Bunnell are in top form. The live album is nowhere nearly as nice. I guess it is an attempt to re-create their Warner Brothers History album, but "Woman Tonight", "Lonely People" and "Don't Cross The River" were originally written and sung by Dan Peek, so they do not sound "right" when sung by Beckley and Bunnell. The arrangements of all twelve songs are losely close to the earlier studio versions, but they are a little sloppy in places.
America never really left the music scene, having toured nonstop for over 30 years. But when it came to fresh music, the group's efforts since about 1980 or so, were pretty hit-and-miss, uneven affairs. A few good songs here and there, but nothing to make the public really take notice. But "Here and Now" is amazing. It's classic "America" with some fabulous production behind it. "Ride On" gives you chills (sha-la-la-la-la...). And "Chasing Rainbows" and "Golden" remind us all what we've been missing. Is it for the "hardcore" rocker? No...and it never was. But America has nothing to apologize for. With "Here and Now", however, it does have plenty of reasons to be proud.
America !! Wow!! still alive and kickin'. The first disc is a brand new 4 star album and the second one is a great rend version of their best songs , but live material, that shows the excellence of musicians that can give you the same quality as studio!! The true mark of talent