Friday, 11 January 2019

America - Hat Trick (1973)


Released October 1973

This, America's third album, saw them slightly trying to diversify away from the acoustic-driven, airy folk-rock, harmonious vocals sound that so characterised their first two albums. It was laudable that they did this and it is not a bad album, but it does lack that typical America sound in some ways, although would more of the same have been advisable? Surely any attempts to change things a little have to be admired. Personally, I find this quite an interesting album.


1. Muskrat Love
2. Wind Wave
3. She's Gonna Let You Down
4. Rainbow Song
5. Submarine Ladies
6. It's Life
7. Hat Trick
8. Molten Love
9. Green Monkey
10. Willow Tree Lullaby
11. Goodbye                                              

"Muskrat Love" is a quirky, bizarre song about Muskrats, as the title suggests. It has a goofy appeal, though. "Wind Wave" has those typical America harmonies, and a Neil Young feel to it, but it also has big orchestration half way through and a catchy rhythmic sound that was somewhat unusual for the group. "She's Gonna Let You Down" has the group going into piano-driven easy listening pop ballad territory. It features some good electric guitar too. "Rainbow Song", although once again featuring a piano and drums rock backing, has echoes of the previous album, particularly in its beautiful, melodious vocals. "Submarine Ladies" is an appealing ballad with some fetching harmonica and country-style guitar. 

"It's Life" features some of those trademark harmonies over a subtle, soft rock beat. The vocals get rockier than they previously have by the end, and the guitar too. The title track is a tuneful, catchy poppy number, with even a few jazzy parts. It is actually over eight minutes long and undergoes several changes in a sort of late sixties/early seventies Beach Boys style. (Brian Johnston is on backing vocals, coincidentally, or maybe not). It is the group's most innovative, adventurous song, by far. There is some excellent buzzy guitar on it too. The "running from the ring of the golden bell like a bat out of hell" lyrical bit near the end maybe influenced Jim Steinman. I wonder? It is all rather prog-rock-ish at times but is certainly different from anything they had done previously.

"Molten Love" is an interesting, vaguely psychedelic song, with some Beatles-esque noises swirling around, it again is very different from any of their previous material. The same applies to the Neil Young-ish buzzy, solid rock of "Green Monkey". Some commentators I have read have a problem with these tracks. Not me. I admire their innovative nature. "Willow Tree Lullaby" is a beautiful song such as was found on their debut album. "Goodbye" is another quirkily appealing, Beach Boys-influenced number. This album was America's "Sgt. Pepper", their "Wild Honey". It was far more Beatles and Beach Boys than CSNY or Neil Young so it made for something of a change. I think it is worthy of more than a few listens. 


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