In the midst of their fourth decade of music making, America have been perennials on the concert circuit for 34 years, pleasing their loyal fan base and attracting new generations of followers. The band's new 2-CD set, "Here & Now" is a spectacular distillation of the group's signature sound past and present, comprising one studio record of all new material and a second live disc taped at XM Radio featuring renditions of songs found on the group's multi-platinum greatest hits album, "History". Their new studio album is a fresh blast of classic Americana shaped by the contemporary sensibilities of producers Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne) and James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and features guests, Ryan Adams, Ben Kweller, Ira Elliot and Matthew Caws (Nada Surf) and Jim James and Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket),Stephen Bishop and Mark Rozzo (Maplewood).
"One of the main attractions for Adam (Schlesinger) and James (Iha) was their initial love of the America sound," explains Gerry Beckley. "We have intentionally tried to keep that being the main focus. We're not trying to emulate or go backwards but the initial ingredients have always remained common to us, which were an abundance of acoustic instrument sounds, a lot of vocal harmony and interesting melodies and lyrics in the forefront." Dewey adds, "Adam and James are terrific to work with. We've tried to maintain the elements of our own traditions so those things haven't changed. We're not moving into electronic music but there are a few quirky things on the album. We're doing a few outside tracks including "Always Love" by Nada Surf."
America's journey has found them exploring a wide variety of musical terrain. Their best-known tunes, which also include "I Need You," "Ventura Highway," "Don't Cross The River," "Tin Man," "Lonely People," and "Sister Golden Hair" were cornerstones of 70's Top 40 and FM rock radio. Yet beyond their impressive catalog of hits, listeners would discover there was always much more to America than surface perceptions. The combination of Gerry Beckley's melodic pop rock and Dewey Bunnell's use of folk-jazz elements, slinky Latin-leaning rhythms and impressionistic lyric imagery contrasted well with Dan Peek's more traditional country-rock leanings and highly personal lyrics.
Enjoying massive success early in their career, America earned their stripes as musical soldiers on the battlefield amidst the excess, craziness and chaos of the 70's. Winning a Grammy for Best New Artist and landing a #1 record while barely in your twenties came with its own pitfalls and the exacting pressures of their international stardom affected each member of the group. From anonymous horses to fast-moving trains, America's extraordinary four-decade musical legacy of consummately crafted pop/rock songs, trademark lush harmonies and evocative lyrical landscapes will never go out of style.
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