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Warner 2808
Released: June 1974
Chart Peak: #3
Weeks Charted: 53
Certified Gold: 10/30/74

Dan PeekDewey BunnellGerry BeckleyMore than any other group of the Seventies, America -- in both its British and U.S. periods -- has epitomized the stiff, soulless side of California pop. After pretending to be Neil Young for an album, America developed an identifiable sound based on acoustic guitars, minor keys and nasal harmonies. To the group's credit it now has chosen to expand its style rather than play out a rather limited hand.

On Holiday America has looked to the Beatles for inspiration, going so far as to enlist the services of George Martin as producer and arranger. It was a good move: The tracks are dominated by piano and strings rather than guitars, giving the harmonies a soft, billowy base, and the album as a whole sounds more solidly prepared than the group's earlier LPs. And Martin hasn't done this well in five years.

But the key to America's surprising coming of age is the material, particularly the four songs and one instrumental peice by Gerry Beckley. Beckley seems to have switched his composing instrument from guitar to piano; his melodic songs are given momentum by simple, syncopated keyboard parts. "Baby It's up to You" has the most memorable melody the group has recorded and is surely one of its most durable tracks as well. "Mad Dog" and "What Does It Matter" betray a debt to McCartney's more wistful work in their tunes, lyrics and vocals. That's another plus: Beckley has learned to sing with style.

Dewey Bunnell's songs, while still containing much of the old America sound, are greatly enhanced by Martin's adventurous arrangements. Dan Peek is the most erratic of the three, but he, too, is starting to write strong melodies to go with often callow lyrics. Holiday is not a work of genius by any means but it will surprise those people -- and there are more than a few -- who gagged on "Ventura Highway" and "A Horse with No Name."

- Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, 9-26-74.

Bonus Reviews!

America do not make many changes in their approach or material, but there is no real reason why they should, having been one of the more successful groups of the past several years. In evidence here are the low key, tight harmony cuts that have become their trademark. Material that comes off best seems, oddly enough, to deal with the downtrodden or with rather unhappy subjects. Instrumental arrangements are excellent, with strings and horns placed just enough to the rear of the guitars and drums to offer support rather than interference. Should be another major LP for the band. Best cuts: "Another Try," "Lonely People," "You."

- Billboard, 1974.

Did you know that "Cause never was a reason for the evening... or the tropic of Sir Galahad"? Well, I didn't either, but it's the sort of thing one learns from America's lyrics. El deepo, huh? Someone talked George Martin, no less, into producing and arranging this, and what George did puts America into perspective about as well as anything could. What George did was take some leftover Sgt. Pepper arrangements off the back burner, making America more tuneful-sounding than usual -- and making it painfully clear that this is strictly a place for second hand ideas. It does no real harm, and at least George can say now that he, too, has been to the desert on a horse with no name. Just think of America the way you would think of bubblegum if Kahlil Gibran wrote the baseball (or rock-and-roll) cards....

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 11/74.

 Reader's Comments


Hmm? Their first album is timeless folk-rock! Imitating Neil Young...? Jesus H. have you got problems. Michael Herr in KUBRICK speaks about critics having to come up with another superlative, pejorative, another "take". Well, I didn't gag on Ventura Highway or A Horse with No Name, though Bangs did choke on his erudite vomit, someone whom you seem to be emulating. Happy choking Bud.

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