Monday, June 26, 2006

Ambrosia (1975)

While best known for ballads like How Much I Feel, Biggest Part of Me, and You're the Only Woman Ambrosia's earlier material showed a much more multi-faceted sound fusing symphonic art rock with lush multi-layered pop music for a sound entirely unique to them.

With their 1975 debut, Holdin On To Yesterday caught the attention of the listening public-- and many of those who opted to purchase the album upon hearing that hit went on to say that as excellent as that track was it was actually the weakest on the album. While the rest of the tracks aren't necessarily as "accessible" this was one of those rare albums that lacks "filler" material-- you know those weak tracks all too common tossed in just to fill up space on the record (or today on the CD player). Whether it was Alan Parsons exceptional production or the musicianship of David Pack, Joe Puerta, Christopher North, and Burleigh Drummond-- someone made sure that all of the material that was inevitably recorded for this album was of superlative quality.

The symphonic nature of their music acts as a lush palette on which their voices can make their most artistic of paintings. Whether it's the tip of the hat to Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle on Nice, Nice, Very Nice, the melancholic Time Waits For No One, the pleading rocker World Leave Me Alone, or even their hit Holdin' On To Yesterday there's a musical seamlessness that touches on the alienation they would later and more fully explore on 1978's Life Beyond L. A. album.

Pack whose voice is the most prominent on most of the tracks is imminently pleasant and thoroughly listenable. His tone soft and soothing beautifully complements the music which graces this exceptional debut. Puerta's coarser and sometimes almost menacing vocals are generally reserved for the uptempo and often cynical tracks. However both Puerta and Pack show their versatility in their ability to switch roles from time to time with Puerta handling some of the more soothing and melodic pieces and Pack taking a turn on the more uptempo works-- adding a hint of grit to his vocals to give them that extra conviction which made those songs that much more believable to the listener.

In short this album is the first of Ambrosia's trifecta. The follow-up, 1976's Somewhere I've Never Travelled is the logical next step in Ambrosia's musical journey followed by 1978's Life Beyond L. A. Their final 2 albums One-Eighty and Road Island are noticeably more pop-oriented and lack the symphonic lustre of their first 3 albums-- while they do have their high points they lack the cohesiveness which made Ambrosia's first three albums consistently interesting and enjoyable.


Bar said...


David Amulet said...

Nice review, I still need to check this one out.

-- david

Anonymous said...

Yeah the first Ambrosia album is Brilliant!! Alan Parsons does a great job mixing it.