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Ambrosia

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Album Review

Although they would become better known for smooth AOR ballads like "How Much I Feel," Ambrosia first made their name with this album of progressive rock with a pop music twist. Its songs skillfully blend strong melodic hooks and smooth vocal harmonies with music of an almost symphonic density. Good examples of this crossbreeding are "Drink of Water," which sounds like the Beach Boys tackling a Pink Floyd space rock epic, and "Nice, Nice, Very Nice," which utilizes a combination of stately close-harmony vocals and dynamic instrumental breaks to put forth a clever lyric derived from a Kurt Vonnegut novel. The complexity of the music is further highlighted by its crystal-clear sonic landscape, mixed by Alan Parsons, which highlights unique touches like the use of a Russian balalaika ensemble and 300-year-old Javanese gongs on "Time Waits for No One." Despite this prog rock ambitiousness, the group is smart enough to avoid letting their instrumental chops take precedence over their music's melodic content: They keep their songs succinct and punchy (nothing extends over six-and-a-half minutes) and they infuse tunes like "Lover Arrive" and the radio favorite "Holdin' on to Yesterday" with a delicate sense of pop songcraft that makes the group's cinematic sound easy for listeners to assimilate. The end result is an album that is intricate enough to please prog rock addicts but catchy enough to win over a few pop fans in the process. Though Ambrosia would go on to score bigger hits later in their career, this is definitely their most cohesive and inspired album.

Biography

Formed: 1971 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Los Angeles quartet Ambrosia, whose founding members included guitarist/vocalist David Pack, bassist/vocalist Joe Puerta, keyboardist Christopher North, and drummer Burleigh Drummond, fused symphonic art rock with a slickly produced pop sound. The group was discovered in 1971 by Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta, who featured Ambrosia as part of a so-called All-American Dream Concert. However, it took them four more years to get a record contract; Ambrosia was released in 1975 and spawned...
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Ambrosia, Ambrosia
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