America: America

WHAT HAVE WE HERE, O my sisters and brothers, but an album that serves as living proof that if you release 88 albums every month, at least one of them will make the charts and thus merit the attention of your humble record review staff?

America, three real young men whose only concession to a combined 15 years of English residence is one wrinkled Rod Stewart-style velour jacket of the sort you don’t need to go to England to get any more, are strictly for those who find Crosby, &c. inaccessibly cerebral.

On the strength of an extremely (a) lame, and (b) unashamedly Neil Young-imitative hit single, ‘A Horse With No Name’, they’ve quickly become as big with whatever’s left of the inwardly cleancut segment of the teen audience as Black Sabbath are with the reds/revolution/Ripple crowd.

Having failed to qualify as a teenager in each of the last five years, I am probably grossly unqualified to comment on them in fair and objective fashion. If you must know, though, I find: their vocal harmonies engagingly pretty, if samey, their individual lead singing manneredly sensitive/vulnerable and a little noxious, their tunes occasionally mildly pleasant, and few of their words as militantly nauseating as, “In the desert you can remember your name ‘cos there’s no one there for to give you no pain,” although mawkish sentiments and banal, pimply hyperboles abound therein.

You’ll note with delight that, in spite of the above, the production is alone sufficient reason to give this platter a whirl or two — were Ian Samwell to take to billing himself as the Glyn Johns of the mostly-acoustic set, I, for one, would not so much as smirk. America is definitely worth hearing, if not listening to.

© John MendelsohnRolling Stone, 27 April 1972

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