Wednesday, January 27, 2010

America - Homecoming (1973)

There's something magical and slightly unusual about this album. It's one of those perfect "summer albums" that captures and crystallizes the "California sound." I mean, to me, this album has always "felt" like California to me. From Ventura Highway to California Revisited there's a mellow laidback easy-going California summer vibe.

What makes this unusual, the 3 members of America were born in England to US Servicemen. Whether it was a startlingly brilliant imagination or a rapid osmosis of California culture upon moving to the States listening to Homecoming one could easily forget these guys weren't native born Californians.

There's a comfortability to Homecoming that makes it a welcome listen regardless of the mood I'm in. I can feel and taste the summer air in all of the songs (and those smells and tastes are particularly welcome during Chicago winters).

Dan, Dewey, and Gerry had truly found something brilliant in their vocal chemistry as evidenced by their debut just a couple years earlier. But with Homecoming they took the successes of their debut to a different level. The material is stronger, the harmonies are tighter (quite an accomplishment considering how tight the harmonies were on their debut), and the whole album actually "flows" better. The gentle familiarity of the music makes one WANT to listen to it from start to finish. Opening with Ventura Highway hooks the listener and the progression of the successive songs gently holds the listener's attention straight through to the closing bars of Saturn Nights.

While their subsequent albums would give glimpses of the brilliance of Homecoming none would ever quite match its consistency or brilliance. This was America at their best. If you were to only own one America album it would be a tough call between Homecoming and their debut... but Homecoming gets my vote, if only by a hair.

Related Links
Ventura Highway (official site)
America (wikipedia)
Gerry Beckley (official site)
Gerry Beckley (wikipedia)
Dewey Bunnell (wikipedia)
Dan Peek (official site)
Dan Peek (wikipedia)


Charlie Ricci said...

I believe America's debut was their best CD but Homecoming is weaker only by comparison. They are another band who started out very strong and gradually sunk to middle-of-the-road mediocrity. However, their 2007 comeback album, Here & Now is outstanding and was one of the best CDs of the just completed decade.

Perplexio said...

Charlie: There is some great stuff on their debut and I'd even go so far as to say there are some songs on the debut that are better than anything on Homecoming. But I still find Homecoming to be more consistent and to have a better "flow" to it than their debut.

Sean Coleman said...

This is a great album. I picked up "Hearts" on vinyl for 2 bucks a couple of weeks ago. In perfect condition, too.

Perplexio said...

Sean: I saw America live back in the mid 90s at a county fair of all places. I felt kind of bad for them-- playing a county fair and all that. I thought they deserved better than that. At that point the only song of theirs I knew was A Horse With No Name. Since then I've come to know and enjoy many more of their songs.