Saturday, October 15, 2011

...bring your huddled, your downtrodden, your musically-deprived ears...

I've been recording many of my record albums to CD, after which I donate the records to Goodwill, basically because I'm too lazy to try and open up an Ebay account and sell them piecemeal. One group whose records were gonna get donated was  "America"...but after recording one of their LP's onto CD, I became highly enamored of it, because it is REALLY GOOD. The album didn't feature any chart hits, other than "Muskrat Love", which is the only Really Bad Song on this LP. But it's the first song, and it paves the way for all the fine music which follows. The album is titled "Hat Trick", which is their third album. And of course "Hat Trick" is a Hockey term, for all of you Iceheads out there. I don't watch Soccer. Which is why I don't watch hockey.  After the players end up kicking or punching each other for a while (in each sport), I just get bored. So why use this title? I think a "Hat Trick" refers to a hockey player who scored three goals in a game. And "Hat Trick" was their Third Album. So now you know.
The Front Cover...
But back to the original topic (I get led astray very easily), most of us became familiar with America when "Horse With No Name" was getting played all over the wide wond'rous world of AM radio (This was in the days before FM stations began rocking), and what a huge song it was. I've heard that some people thought the song was sung by Neil Young, and lead singer Dewey Bunnell's voice does bear a resemblance...anyway, long ago, I played the record for my Dad, and he said, "the singer's singing only one note!!!" Well, yeah, "Horse With No Name" isn't the most melodious song ever, but it's more of an "atmospheric" musical "rumination". (See how I slipped my blog title in there?) And then, "I Need You", their second single from that LP, came out. So America got real big, real fast. (Sorta like our nation in general.) For some reason, I never bought America's albums when they first came out (I was too busy studying the music of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, you see...).  I got America's albums at thrift stores (Hey, I can't afford new prices for Everything, y'know. Their first two albums, "America" (Later titled 'Horse With No Name), and "Homecoming" were released within half-a-year of each other. Then, over a year and a half passed before "Hat Trick" came out.

...and, the flip side.
In the process of putting "Hat Trick" onto CD, I thought, "Hey, this music is really good." The title track, "Hat Trick" is actually a suite of three songs which is reminiscent of The Beatles' "Abbey Road" or Badfinger's "Wish You Were Here" . The music comes in all flavors; slow dignified ballads, breezy pop numbers and a couple of heavy tunes to keep things honest. Records that flow well from song to song, with good vocals and well-structured songs attract me every time. This is the most eclectic album America Ever Made.It's obvious that everyone involved lavished a lot of love and care on this record. And it's made my top 20 list of "desert island albums". The way this album sounds, it's obvious that America, the group, really wanted to do a Great Album. And they did.I didn't know they had it in them. From what I've read, the members of America got to know each other in England, where their families were serving military duty. And so that's how those Military Brats got together, guitars in hand. So, perhaps, "America" is one of Britain's best exports. I've always liked the sound of acoustic guitars, and for sure, America's music has plenty of that. And the contrast between Acoustic rhythm guitars and Electric guitars is all over the place on the group's albums.

America recorded several later albums with Beatles' Producer George Martin, and with him, the group recorded such toe-tappers as "Tin Man", "Daisy Jane", "Sister Golden Hair (a #1 hit), "Amber Cascades" and "Today's The Day". The last two weren't real big hits, but every other artist back in the late '70s had to fight off disco fever, and many pop/rock groups fell by the wayside during that time. Later on, group member Dan Peek quit the group to focus on a religious music career. America continued on as a duo, and of course everyone remembers "You Can Do Magic" from the early '80s. That was a huge song, and their last big hit. It comes to mind that if one of the members of the Duo (which America had become) left, the remaining member could be called An "American"? And I must go on record here and say that I thought group member Gerry Beckley's "Daisy Jane" is about as sappy and spineless a tune as I've ever heard. He seemed to write the group's sugary-sweet stuff, and if you listen to "Daisy Jane" too much, your teeth will rot and fall out of your mouth. Still, it beats "Muskrat Love". Of course, Flatulence coming out of a speaker beats "Muskrat Love". Later on, The Captain and Tennille recorded their version of "Muskrat Love" in which The Capitan's synthesiser is supposed to sound like two rodents gettin' together in the pond. Uhhh, no thanks...

The titles of America's '70s albums are "Horse With No Name", "Homecoming", "Hat Trick", "Hideaway", "Holiday" and "Harbor". Their greatest-hits album was titled "History".(See a pattern here?) Their 'live' album, tho, was titled "America Live". I thot, why not call it "Highlights?". Or "Hoe-Down?" Or "Happening"? But the group showed it had "Humor"...they broke the mighty spell of "H-word" titles, calling one of their later albums "Silent Letter". Although...I have a 1998 album they recorded, titled "Human Nature".


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6:48 AM  

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