America – America (1971)

America_America4 out of 5 Stars!

Sometimes during a really rough day you need gentle, harmonious music to wind down, to drift away from the craziness of the real world, and that’s when I often find the group America a godsend.

Formed in England, of all places, the songwriting trio of Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek had indeed an American flavor, seeming to draw at least part of its inspiration from Crosby, Stills, & Nash (or C,S,N & Young), offering up wickedly melodic and uncluttered acoustic-based pop music rich in spot-perfect vocal harmonies—almost like an acoustic version of Three Dog Night.

Anyway, the same as many of my contemporaries, my first experience with America was hearing the singalong track “A Horse With No Name,” being played just about every hour of every day on every AM or FM radio station seemingly between here in Chicago to Timbuktu, and since the tune appealed to me, I picked up the album even before the second hit “I Need You” replaced “Horse” on those hourly radio rotations. Anyway, with tracks such as those, along with the magnificent “Sandman,” “Riverside,” “Here” and a host of other fairly memorable ditties, I ended up playing this album almost as much as the DJs themselves and ended up following the band for many years until Dan Peek left the fold and, well, the magic had disappeared for me.

Nevertheless, this debut as well as several of the band’s subsequent releases are still essential in my music library for when those “crazy days” roll around.

(RIP Dan Peek)

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