Saturday, April 13, 2013
The air was full of sound (America)
The demise of CDs and the rise of downloads is having one benefit – desperate record companies are trying to eek out some profit from repacking back catalogue in budget collections. For a while I can pick up multi packs of an artist’s back catalogue really cheaply. Stuff that I missed the first time ‘round, like America.
I got the first five America albums in one pack for less than 20 dollars recently and I’ve been luxuriating in SoCal warmth for the week. The packaging is basic – fairly poor reproduction of the original album sleeves in miniature but at least there are no extra bonus bloat to ruin the flow..yes, that's right, I'm not a fan of the shady enticement to buy 'special edition' CDs. The practice is becoming ridiculous with multi CD box sets of albums like Fleetwood Mac's Rumours detailing every sneeze and cough of the recording sessions. In most cases (the fabs would be an obvious exception) I just want the original album in a repackage thanks very much.
But back to America...one of my first single purchases was America’s Sandman in 1971. Somehow I’d heard it on the radio, I guess, and it had put its hooks into me right from the opening guitars and opening line: Ain’t it foggy outside?
A little later it reminded me a lot of the NZ group Waves and their single The Dolphin Song – same layers of lovely harmonies, the acoustic guitar interplay and electric guitar overlay and the same adventurous spirit.
For some reason I stopped collecting America after their first album until their Greatest Hits album came out with its outstanding collection of pop hits.
I’m pretty sure at one point I also owned a vinyl copy of Holiday as well but it’s gone A.W.O.L. from the collection somehow.
Now I have the chance to get their first five albums in one swoop and listen to all the hidden treasures that are lurking undisturbed on each album.
First surprise on their second album Homecoming (they had moved from England back to their home country) was the presence of a familiar song from that Sandman single. The B side had two tracks: the brief Everyone I meet is from California followed by A Horse With No Name (which went on to be a big hit, rather than the A Side track).
Homecoming has a side two revisit of Everyone…California. It’s beefed up with a new opening and it feels more polished and certainly it’s been extended. It feels like a new track now – something familiar but new. I love that!
I’m looking forward to getting into the third album Hat Trick now.