Saturday, March 21, 2009

America the Beautiful

There is nothing I like more (musically) than a good dose of harmony and there are few bands who do harmony as well as America. They were back in Glasgow on Thursday night to serenade us with another set of superb songs. From Riverside, their opening number, to A Horse With No Name their closer an hour and forty minutes later it was wall to wall hits with a few surprises thrown in for those people, like me, who have just about every one of their albums.

Music for all of us time stamps our lives and I cannot hear anything from America's first album without instantly being back, high in the Alps, standing and looking at a stunning view of the mountains with the songs from it playing on my old Phillips cassette recorder. I'd rigged it up to a big speaker that my mate Steve and I set up up in his mini van. We were on our way home from a week's camping in Chamonix in the early summer of 1972. I'd bought their first album the day it came out, from which Horse, Riverside, Sandman and I Need You came from; on Thursday evening they played them all.

America's songs are great radio records and Ventura Highway is still often heard here in the UK; go to the USA and you'll hear it along with You Can Do Magic, Only in Your Dreams, Tin Man, Don't Cross the River and Sister Golden Hair which all graced the Billboard charts. But America are far from an oldies act that rely on the power of nostalgia. They are still making great records and manage to imbue their live show with a freshness and wonderful musicianship that many bands with a quarter of their experience would envy. Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley along with their three piece band of Willie Leacox (drums), Michael Woods (guitars and keys) and Rich Campbell (bass) create a sound that is full, tight and well crafted.

New this time was a very clever film show and backdrop that accompanied and enhanced the sets. During Hollywood it really was superb, as it was on Sandman with its images of the Vietnam War; but even when it was little more than subtly changing images of the desert or highways it helped to create mind-set that made listening even more pleasurable. The Glasgow Concert Hall was not full but I guarantee that every person who went left with a head full of harmony and a heart full of great memories.

1 comment:

r morris said...

Great group. I saw them live back in '78 in Missoula, Montana, USA. dewey had broken his arm skiing and needless to say it was not one of their best shows. warm-up band Michael Murphy got more enthusiasm than America did. however, i continue to love America and have all their records from their beginnings through the solo work, even have the Dan Peek solo disc.
America ROCKS!!!