Saturday, November 18, 2006

Number 728 - America

Number 728


"Ventura Highway"

Genre:Soft Rock
I use to think America was Neil Young, i know, i know... doh. But when i was much younger and heard the song "Horse With No Name", ya gotta admit its pretty close huh? No? Geez you guys are a fickle lot :p

America was a light folk-rock act of the early '70s who had several Top Ten hits, including the number ones "A Horse with No Name" and "Sister Golden Hair." Vocalists/guitarists Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, and Gerry Beckley met while they were still in high school in the late '60s; all three were sons of U.S. Air Force officers who were stationed in the U.K. After they completed school in 1970, they formed an acoustic folk-rock quartet called Daze in London, which was soon pared down to the trio of Bunnell, Peek, and Beckley. Adopting the name America, the group landed a contract with Jeff Dexter, a promoter for the Roundhouse concert venue. Dexter had America open for several major artists and the group soon signed with Warner Bros. Records. By the fall of 1970, the group was recording their debut album in London, with producers Ian Samwell and Jeff Dexter.
"A Horse with No Name," America's debut single, was released at the end of 1971. In January 1972, the song -- which strongly recalled the acoustic numbers of Neil Young - SEE! - became a number three hit in the U.K. The group's self-titled debut album followed the same stylistic pattern and became a hit as well, peaking at number 14. Following their British success, America returned to North America, beginning a supporting tour for the Everly Brothers. "A Horse with No Name" was released in the U.S. that spring, where it soon became a number one single, pushing Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" off the top of the charts; America followed the single to the top of the charts. "I Need You" became another Top Ten hit that summer, and the group began work on their second album. "Ventura Highway," the first single released from this collaboration, became their third straight Top Ten hit in December of 1972. In the beginning of 1973, America won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1972.
Homecoming was released in January of 1973, becoming a Top Ten hit in the U.S. and peaking at number 21 in the U.K. America's essential sound didn't change with this record; it just became more polished. However, the hits stopped coming fairly soon -- they had only one minor Top 40 hit in 1973. Hat Trick, the group's third album, was released toward the end of 1973; it failed to make it past number 28 on the American charts. Released in the late fall of 1974, Holiday was the first record the group made with producer George Martin. Holiday returned America to the top of the charts, peaking at number three and launching the hit singles "Tin Man" and "Lonely People." "Sister Golden Hair," pulled from 1975's Hearts, became their second number one single. That same year, the group released History: America's Greatest Hits, which would eventually sell over four million copies.
Although America's 1976 effort Hideaway went gold and peaked at number 11, the group's audience was beginning to decline. After releasing Harbor to a lukewarm reception, Dan Peek left the group, deciding to become a contemporary Christian recording artist. The group continued as a duo; their last Martin-produced record, Silent Letter, was released in 1979 to little attention. America returned to the Top Ten in 1982 with "You Can Do Magic," an adult contemporary pop number that featured synthesizers along with their trademark harmonies. "The Border" became their last Top 40 hit in 1983, peaking at number 33. After releasing America in Concert in the summer of 1985, the group continued to tour successfully into the '90s, resurfacing in 1998 with Human Nature. ~ [Stephen Thomas Erlewine]
For more America see Number 440
For the Everly Brothers see Number 467
For The Monkees see Number 504 & #608
For Crosby Stills & Nash see Number 660
For Neil Young see Number 479, #677 & #938
What does Rolling Stone Magazine think about America?
If America is to flourish for much longer, the group would be wise to do an updated Monkees trip, find themselves a TV series based in L.A. and vicinity and peddle ecology, mysticism, or what-have-you. For America has little to offer musically beyond what it has stolen; namely the Crosby, Stills and Nash harmonic formula of triadic part-singing based on parallel fifths, a potent idea that in less than four years has just about been run into the ground. Were it not for the once-only phenomenon of "A Horse with No Name," a striking tidbit of surrealistic hokum accentuated by Dewey Bunnell's freakish imitation of Neil Young SEE ! and released at the exact moment when Neil's mystique was at its zenith, we would probably never have heard of America. ~ [Source: Rolling Stone]
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Afraid not Kiddies) and the album ranked at (Did we mention Neil?) SEE!
This song has a crowbarred rating of 67 out of 108
Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

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