Looking to step back into the 60's with a 70's sound all recorded in 2011? Loved by two generations of fans, America's latest release "Back Pages" continues their staple sound created by leaders Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell. Taking a cue from many other artists, this release is a collection of twelve wonderful interpretations of songs by other songwriters. One can only assume either they have run out of new material or truly felt it necessary to pay tribute to their favorite songwriters.
Unlike several classic artists from their era, these guys can still sing, and the recording glistens with their guitars and is rich with their warm harmonies and silky vocals. The album starts with Paul Simon's "America", albeit a bit corny to start with a song title that is also the name of the band, yet it works so well. Joni Mitchell's well-treaded "Woodstock" is given a smooth sensibility, although with all its beauty, it doesn't live up to the original Joni and subsequent rocking CSN&Y versions. Combining the dreamy textures of the Beach Boys and songwriter Brian Wilson's renditions of "Caroline, No," America holds truer to the Wilson version and provides a laid-back feel on this tune.
Much of Back Pages is glazed with spacious guitars, a round bass, and non-intrusive drums. Vocals are close and enchanting with little dynamics, but a lot of range. These timeless songs are freshened up and are great for traveling or just kicking back with some friends. The Zombies "Time of the Season" is tight and loses the exaggerated reverb that is prevalent on many recordings of the 60's era. James Taylor's "Something in the Way She Moves" really takes the listener back to the 70's with the pedal steel reminiscent of string sections that were common on pop recordings during that time. If there was one track to miss, Niel Young's "On the Way Home" does not carry the angst of either the Buffalo Springfield nor Young's live version. The album closes with Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages", which alone in contrast is totally worth the price of admission. America has taken this to an extraordinary heartfelt level, embellishing the song with a concertina that accompanies a solo grand piano, and superb harmonies. Earlier renditions recorded by the Byrd’s and songwriter Bob Dylan made this song famous, but America has topped them all with their distinct branding.
While streaming has become a prefered listening mode for many, for listeners who desire a physical copy containing a fresh take on these tunes will want to pick up the CD. Dedicated America fans will surely want to include this in their collection as it showcases renditions of the group’s favorites in one collection.
Released July 26, 2011.
Compact Disc and digital download. Also available via streaming platforms.
Get your copy here:
Share this Article with your Friends
About the Author
Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.