Sunday, January 28
What with George "The Decider" Bush deciding to do everything in his power these past six years to weaken the United States every which way and worse, there can be little doubt that AMERICA is in need of a comeback.
Maybe that's why DEWEY BUNNELL and GERRY BECKLEY -- two/thirds of the hit-making, soft-rocking '70s group AMERICA -- felt compelled to get the band back together. Well... with a little prodding from some of their younger-generation admirers, that is.
To start with, those admirers were ADAM SCHLESINGER (FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE) and JAMES IHA (SMASHING PUMPKINS). They not only helped convince Bunnell and Beckley to record a new full-length CD for the first time since 1998; they agreed to produce it. Well... with a little help from their friends, that is.
Those friends would ultimately come to include RYAN ADAMS, BEN KWELLER, and members of MY MORNING JACKET, and NADA SURF. Which begs the question: Would THE EAGLES or BREAD -- the two groups AMERICA essentially nestled themselves between during their heydey -- be able to elicit such nostalgic love and loyalty? Well... probably THE EAGLES, but that's not the point....
The point is that, some 30 years after releasing their 4+ million-selling Greatest Hits collection, AMERICA is back with a new double-CD, HERE & NOW. "NOW & THEN" might have made for a more accurate title, seeing as the first disc consists of new compositions, while the latter is dedicated to the group's glory days -- with the guys gamely performing live/in-studio versions of ALL of the tracks on that aforementioned Greatest Hits collection.
Now, you might rightly wonder: Does the world really need present-day, live/in-studio recordings of such distant hits as "Sister Golden Hair," "Lonely People," "Tin Man," "A Horse With No Name" (not to be mistaken for a NEIL YOUNG song), and "Ventura Highway" (not to be mistaken for an EAGLES song)? The answer: Of course not. But if the boys are feelin' frisky -- and are willing to release their double-disc at a non-apocalyptic price (just $11.99 @ AMAZON) -- then who are we to judge or begrudge them?
Methinks some judgment IS warranted on the first disc, however, seeing as this is the face AMERICA wishes to put on their current creative incarnation. The good news (or "bad," depending on your point of view) is that the band is back to sounding like they did in the '70s. Credit Schlesinger and Iha for keeping the arrangements largely uncluttered -- with gently strummed acoustic guitars and the group's trademark harmonies carrying the better part of the day. The songs themselves are pleasant, if forgettable (though Schlesinger's co-writing efforts on a couple of them help to elevate the general proceedings).
Bottom line: There's nothing wrong with surrendering oneself to a bit of nostalgia every now and again. And as a young kid in the early-to-mid '70s, I grew up listening to AMERICA on AM radio. Whether I truly need to listen to them on XM Radio today remains a pressing question, but kudos to Bunnell and Beckley for not giving up the ghost -- and kudos to Schlesinger and Iha for not just respecting their elders, but for celebrating them.
AMERICA on MySPACE.
AMERICA's upcoming transcontinental canoodling...
Feb 2 2007 8:00P/McKinney Performing Arts Center/McKinney, Texas
Feb 3 2007 8:00P/McKinney Performing Arts Center/McKinney, Texas
Mar 9 2007 8:00P/Keswick Theater/Glenside, Pennsylvania
Mar 10 2007 8:00P/Louisville Palace Theatre/Louisville, Kentucky
Mar 13 2007 8:00P/Hammersmith Apollo/London, UK
Mar 14 2007 8:00P/Civic Hall/Wolverhampton, UK
Mar 15 2007 8:00P/Corn Exchange/Cambridge, UK
Mar 17 2007 8:00P/The Anvil/Basingstoke, UK
[MP3] "Ride On"
[MP3] "Work to Do"
[MP3] "Don't Cross the River" [live/in-studio]
[MP3] "A Horse With No Name" [live/in-studio]
[VID] "Ride On" [live on LETTERMAN]
BONUS TRACKS >>>
[MP3] "Sister Golden Hair"
[MP3] "You Can Do Magic"