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Thread: America - The Band

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    America - The Band

    One of the very first albums that I bought when I was in high school was “History – America’s Greatest Hits” and with the exception of “Muskrat Love” I still love most of the songs on that album. I never explored any further though. They are coming to town at the end of January and the wife and I have decided to go see them. I decided to pick up the mini-box set thing of their first 5 albums recently (less than 20 bucks on Amazon), so this is the first time I have ever listened to anything other than the hits from them. I am enjoying the albums, but I think America might be one of the few bands where I think their hits really were their best songs. The albums strike me as a poor man’s Crosby Stills, and Nash. In fact some of the tracks sound very much like some of the Still’s fronted CSN tracks. Anyway…….my point is, this is the first time I have ever delved into any of their material beyond the hits and I am kind of wondering how they are thought of around here? Not sure that I ever remember a discussion of them before. Anyone see them live? I saw a recent Soundstage appearance on TV and thought it was quite good.

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Have to say until recently Horse With No Name was the only song of theirs I was aware of (and I always liked it). But for some reason Sirius XM has played a lot of their other songs recently and it's ll sounded good. Not sure if they are other hits or what.

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    They are the kings of the major 7th chord!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Have to say until recently Horse With No Name was the only song of theirs I was aware of (and I always liked it). But for some reason Sirius XM has played a lot of their other songs recently and it's ll sounded good. Not sure if they are other hits or what.
    They had at least a dozen top 40 hits back in the early 70's.

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    Member FrippWire's Avatar
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    I don't listen to them these days but when the LP with "Horse With No Name" came out, the adolescent me had to have one for Christmas that year.

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    Always loved this song, their best imo:




    The version on Live (1977) is even more beautiful.

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    ^^ That one is built around two major 7th chords!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    I think America might be one of the few bands where I think their hits really were their best songs. The albums strike me as a poor manís Crosby Stills, and Nash.
    Can't really speak for that much of their work beyond all the hits but yes indeed. I remember first thinking 'Horse With No Name' (apparently not on early pressings of the debut in the UK, where it was actually recorded) was Neil Young singing. They don't have anything like the musical or lyrical substance of CSNY though, particularly with the lyrics, so I see them as a soft-rock, background music kind of group.

  9. #9
    Any Greatest Hits collection would probably suffice. I still get overt gossebumps from listening to "Ventura Highway" while sipping GTs in summertime. At their best, America were great at generating feelgood auras.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
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  10. #10
    I saw them (not sure how many of the original members are left) a couple years back.. one of the guys lives a short distance from Charlottesville Va. I was amazed that they could still hit the notes.. Overall a very enjoyable evening.. As a teenager growing up in the '70's I gotta say a lot of their hits landed on my plate at just the right time...

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Any Greatest Hits collection would probably suffice. I still get overt gossebumps from listening to "Ventura Highway" while sipping GTs in summertime. At their best, America were great at generating feelgood auras.
    I wanna get lost in their rock and roll and drift away...

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    Produced by George Martin of course...Sandman is about as proggy as they got.

    CSN light, with weaker singers and song writing. YMMV.

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    Member WHORG's Avatar
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    Fondly remember this group back in my high-school days. Always a big hit with the female crowd they were -
    It's always a good night when the "heat" shows up ~Pepe

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    They are the kings of the major 7th chord!
    One major7th to 4 relativeminor7th. Example- Cmaj7th to dm7th. Just add capo to mix things up a bit. Yep, they loved that. It's a good thing- their songs were bland enough without that.

  15. #15
    One of my major guilty wimpy white guy pleasures! Along with Seals and Croft and England Dan & John Ford Coley.
    "Alienated-so alien I go!"

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    Kings of the nonsense song! They had so many songs with lyrics that made no sense at all.
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  17. #17
    George Martin started working with them on the 4th album. By that time only Dewey Bunnell's songs sounded like CSN. The others were more like McCartney or the early Bee Gees.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by BobM View Post
    Kings of the nonsense song! They had so many songs with lyrics that made no sense at all.
    Hey, the heat was hot!! There were plants and birds and rocks and things. Makes sense to me.

    There were plants and birds and rocks and things
    There was sand and hills and rings
    The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
    And the sky with no clouds
    The heat was hot and the ground was dry
    But the air was full of sound

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rune Blackwings View Post
    Along with Seals and Croft and England Dan & John Ford Coley.
    Yeah, these are more their peers than CSNY. And there's a place for this sort of music, for sure.

  20. #20
    Seals & Crofts did get proggy on some of their album cuts. ED&JFC seemed sappy to me from their hits, but I haven't heard much of them.

  21. #21
    I'm probably the only person in the world who heard them first through their early 80's hit You Can Do Magic (written by, I believe, Russ "Since You've Been Gone" Ballard). I actually remember seeing the video on HBO's old Video Jukebox (I'm pretty sure that's another one that was too "soft" for MTV). Then when VH-1 Classic first started, they were playing it regularly. Then for awhile, I heard that song played regularly on the Muzak at work.

    Trivia: the cover of America's Greatest Hits was designed by Phil Hartman, one of the few people on Saturday Night Live who were actually funny after the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players left the show. At the time he was a graphic designer, and as I understand, his brother was manager to America, Poco, and a few other bands, and so the brother hired Phil to do album covers for them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Man In The Mountain View Post
    Hey, the heat was hot!! There were plants and birds and rocks and things. Makes sense to me.

    There were plants and birds and rocks and things
    There was sand and hills and rings
    The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
    And the sky with no clouds
    The heat was hot and the ground was dry
    But the air was full of sound
    But when I hear those words, sung, they really make me feel like I'm in that damn desert with the horse. Very successful imagery! Probably the best that band ever came up with, though Ventura Highway comes close.

  23. #23
    I love most all of Dewey Bunnell's songs, such as 'Three Roses', 'Old Man Took', even 'Ventura Highway', but the other 2 writers songs do nothing for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Any Greatest Hits collection would probably suffice. I still get overt gossebumps from listening to "Ventura Highway" while sipping GTs in summertime. At their best, America were great at generating feelgood auras.
    I decided to pick up the 3 CD box set "Highway - 30 Years Of America" and I think it pretty much captures everything I want from them. Everything is re-mastered and sounds really good. It really improves some of the rockier stuff like "Cornwall Blank". It is a very nicely done collection.

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    Quote Originally Posted by happytheman View Post
    I saw them (not sure how many of the original members are left) a couple years back.. one of the guys lives a short distance from Charlottesville Va. I was amazed that they could still hit the notes.. Overall a very enjoyable evening.. As a teenager growing up in the '70's I gotta say a lot of their hits landed on my plate at just the right time...
    2 of the 3 original members are left.

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