Saturday, 12 January 2019

America - Holiday (1974)


Released June 1974

Recorded at AIR Studios, London

After the almost prog-rock experimentations on 1973's "Hat Trick", America sort of reverted to what made them popular in the first place - harmonious, laid-back folk rock. Light and breezy melodies abound. This was only to an extent, however, because Beatles producer George Martin was employed to produce the album (it was recorded in London) and you can certainly tell in the dominating orchestration. The latter took over from the bass and electric guitar sounds of the first two albums (particularly the second one). So, there were still considerable changes floating around on this album. It was, therefore, far more of a soft pop/rock album than a folk rock one. If you ask me, it is America's "Wings" album, so similar to Paul McCartney's band does some of it sound.


1. Miniature
2. Tin Man
3. Another Try
4. Lonely People
5. Glad To See You
6. Mad Dog
7. Hollywood
8. Baby It's Up To You
9. You
10. Old Man Took
11. What Does It Matter
12. In The Country                                  

The albums begins with a short, classical influenced instrumental in "Miniature" before we get a real echo back to the "Horse With No Name" glory days in the airy, beautiful melody and vocals of "Tin Man". It also has a sumptuous bass line. It is simply one of the group's best tracks. "Another Try" is a CSNY-influenced piano, bass and drum folk rock number with a haunting vocal that almost sounds like Gilbert O'Sullivan (as it had done on past occasions). It also features some seventies-era Beach Boys-style harmonies. Some sublime French horn enhances the song at the end. Very Beatles-esque, not surprising as George Martin was the producer, of course. With that in mind, you have to say that "Lonely People" is very McCartney-ish, with airs of CSNY (again, of course), Neil Young and The Byrds too. Or maybe those artists often carried airs of America in their music. The harmonica solo is positively Lindisfarne-esque as well.

"Glad To See You" has a very orchestrated backing under its typically America light folky harmonies. This is very much the difference on this album. As I said earlier, the strings have replaced the rock guitar of the first two albums. "Mad Dog" is so whimsically McCartney/Wings-influenced, with its mannered vocal and gently pounding piano. Even its melodic rise and fall is reminiscent of McCartney, and as for the guitar and brass section in the middle, it may as well have been Wings. "Hollywood" brings back that mysterious, fuzzy guitar folk rock sound of 1972. It is a beguiling track indeed. A most atmospheric song. Although there is probably no real link between this and Madonna's song of the same name, for me there is, deep down somewhere.

"Baby It's Up To You" is a warm, solid bassy slice of soft rock, with some evocative guitar sounds throughout. "You" is a Beach Boys-influenced short piece of harmonious piano, drum and bass-driven  rock, with Martin's trademark classically-derived brass augmenting the pleasant sound half way through. It is all very pleasant, and like the last album's material, actually quite experimental in its nature. This album, like the last one, was an innovative attempt to slightly change the group's sound in subtle ways. Not too much, but there are real differences between the first two albums and the next two.

"Old Man Took" is again a string-dominated number, despite keeping its typical harmonies. The affected whimsy of "What Does It Matter" is so McCartney he may as well have been brought into the studio. It even has that muffled vocal. Could it get any more "Wings". You bet. Just listen to "In The Country". A more copper-bottomed Wings-style rocker you would struggle to find. Despite the obvious influences, though, it is still an enjoyable album.


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