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View Poll Results: How would you rank the album?
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Old 12-20-2010, 01:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Ambrosia - Ambrosia (1975)

This thread is for discussing the album Ambrosia by the band with the same name. The album was homework in the prog & fusion album club in the period Dec. 6th to Dec. 20th.

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Ambrosia - Ambrosia (1975)

What do you get when a bunch of Californian wannabe Beach Boys see King Crimson at a concert back in '72 and decide to follow suit? Before all that blue-eyed soul scthuffz like You're The Biggest Part Of Me, there was this little crossover gem: poppier and yet more muscular in places than most of America's often derivative and unspired prog-related music at the time, this self-titled debut has everything a proghead might want in a record: wicked instrumental chops coupled with vivid lyrical imagery, awesome songwriting and some muy excelente vocal harmonizing courtesy of frontman David Pack and the rest of the band. Besides all this, the proceedings are splendid on the production side of things as well: Alan Parsons, fresh off Pink Floyd's DSOTM, was behind the reins of this particular carriage, and the results are irrefutably grand.

Searching for an American prog. album that can rival the U.K.'s best? Have at ye!
So, what do you think about it?
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Old 12-20-2010, 02:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Well here's some info from Prog Archives that adds a little more perspective:

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Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Nice, Nice, Very Nice (5:49)
2. Time Waits For No One (5:01)
3. Holdin' On To Yesterday (4:19)
4. World Leave Me Alone (3:17)
5. Make Us All Aware (4:28)
6. Lover Arrive (3:12)
7. Mama Frog (6:05)
8. Drink Of Water (6:29)

Total Time: 38:40

Line-up / Musicians
- Joe Puerta / bass guitar & lead vocals
- David Pack / guitars, lead vocals & keyboards on "Lover Arrive"
- Christopher North / keyboards & vocals
- Burleigh Drummond / percussion, bassoon & vocals
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is the first I've heard of this band, Ambrosia. I've only given the album one spin in order. I've gone back to "Nice, Nice, Very Nice" a few times since. We open with this track, which surprisingly grabbed me within the first thirty seconds. The nearly six minute track really does great in introducing the album. As "Time Waits For No One" fades in, I'm brought to a fairly happy place. The guitar exceptionally takes me away, and with a drum roll, I've let loose. The vocals enter and soothe.
Quote:
"Why am I searching, when will I know
All these years I have waited and nothing to show
I'm ready to listen I'm ready to win...
But I can't wait much longer before we begin

Time waits for no one...
I can certainly relate to this sentiment and this logical conclusion. And the band all the while is jamming. I've got to give it to these fellows.

"Holdin' On to Yesterday" enters with a sweet, sweet bassline. This song has the groove. Pack's vocals here are not reaching me. I'm just not there at that level. I can appreciate his soul-singing here, but I'm not feeling this yet. But the band really pulls this song together for me to where I don't feel the need to skip it, I just won't be raving about this track. "World Leaves Me Alone", for me, suffers from cheesy lyrics syndrome. These may be someone else's meaningful words, though. Again, North, Puerta, Pack, and Drummond keep churning out great jams. North is not a bad keys player, either.

"Make Us All Aware" opens after a silent, delayed start. The keys/spoken word intro really feel theatrical. The rock worms its' way in and out briefly between more keys/vocals heavy sections. And then, thankfully, there is an amazing instrumental section with a very wicked effect. There's a space bumblebee floating around in my ears, and I like it! The drums enter to pick up the pace and build anticipation as we end and enter "Lover Arrive", which brings us to a haltingly slow, haunting tune. I was very tempted to skip it. It all became unbearable for me. I finished it. I wished I'd skipped it. That was a downer.

"Mama Frog" to the rescue, right in time! It's still hard to shake that nasty feeling from the last song, though. But the band as a whole is back to shining brightly. By the halfway point, the shock from "Lover" should subside and the instrumental awesomeness should take you on an imaginary run through a cyberjungle. It's like ... kind of awesome. The way they turned it from that cheery feel back into the ominous, and with a long sustained bass tone and an odd, eerie vocal section (samples?), we are brought nearly to paranoia, insanity and the music comes back. Only to taunt us with eccentric instrumentation and insane laughing and acidtrip like laughing.

And we seamlessly fade into "Drink of Water"...
Normality ensues so quickly again, you're left feeling a bit insane and out of place listening to something so 'square' again. Just as earlier when I was still feeling brought down by "Lover Arrive" only to have that feeling resurface soon, "Mama Frog"'s eccentricities were still in my head for the first half of "Drink". And as I expected, things got wild again. After all, this is the final track on the album. But things mellow out again quickly as to wind down. And it winds down in a very mellow way.

Overall, I'd listen to the album again. But I will especially be listening to "Nice, Nice, Very Nice", "Time Waits For No One", and "Mama Frog" in the future. I don't have much criticism against their instrumental style. I was a bit worried it was going to suck a lot more. I liked it, in general. I'm glad I checked it out. I'm pleasantly happy with how well these fellows play. Vocals, hit or miss, but I'm picky. Some good ones, some eh...

I'd like to propose 81/100
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Last edited by Mrd00d; 12-21-2010 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 12-20-2010, 08:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Nice review Mrd00d! I think it's awesome that you went track-by-track.

A few things I'd like to add though-

1. Ambrosia are the only West Coast pop/progressive rock band that has ever formed to my knowledge in the context of progressive rock history. Even if I hated their stuff, I'd give them props for having a rather original sound.

2. David Pack is their main lead vocalist, not North or Puerta. His talent is such that he'd have one hell of a successful solo career in the 80's and beyond.

3. 'Nice, Nice Very Nice' was actually written around the lyrics to a made-up song that appeared Kurt Vonnegut's famous novel "Cat's Cradle". I guess you could sense the literary quality behind the song while you were listening to it!
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Anteater View Post
Nice review Mrd00d! I think it's awesome that you went track-by-track.

A few things I'd like to add though-

1. Ambrosia are the only West Coast pop/progressive rock band that has ever formed to my knowledge in the context of progressive rock history. Even if I hated their stuff, I'd give them props for having a rather original sound.

2. David Pack is their main lead vocalist, not North or Puerta. His talent is such that he'd have one hell of a successful solo career in the 80's and beyond.

3. 'Nice, Nice Very Nice' was actually written around the lyrics to a made-up song that appeared Kurt Vonnegut's famous novel "Cat's Cradle". I guess you could sense the literary quality behind the song while you were listening to it!
1. I had noticed they were a California band but hadn't thought about the implications of that... Original, certainly.

2. Good to know. My mistake. I'm a big instrumental music fan. For me to like a vocalist, it takes a particular something that I can't really put my finger on. It's definitely singer to singer; I haven't blacklisted whole genres necessarily... Right on

3. Interesting. I enjoyed the vocalization on "Nice, Nice" and "Time Waits..." more than on the latter end of the album... To each their own, but that's good reference material.
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Old 12-22-2010, 03:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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This is a nice and easy to listen to album. As mentioned in the album description, the vocal harmonizing is really beautiful. I agree with most of what's been said about the song to song description, but have to add that I experience the lyrics of Nice Nice rather funny than anything else - it makes me laugh, literary quality or not, and that' another positive fact. My favourite song is Drink of Water, and I also don' like the two boring songs mentioned above.

Generally a nice, nice, very nice and easy album without advanced musical challenges, which became one of my favourites!
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I always love hearing some upbeat and accessible prog. This certainly fit the bill. Solid album.
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