The seventh American studio album, “Harbor”, released in 1977, was a return to form after the disjointed “Hideaway”. It is the last album in their canon to feature the original line-up of Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek. After its release, Peek will leave to pursue a different path, so these songs represent his final contributions to “America.” Overall, it’s a much more cohesive sound, which is partly influenced by the changing musical fashion of the late 1970s, with disco influences interspersed with their usual folk rock output. It is produced by longtime Beatles maestro George Martin. Music on Vinyl is releasing a limited edition of 1500 individually numbered copies of American “Harbor” on translucent yellow vinyl.
“God of the Sun” is the first track and one of the singles from the album. Written by Beckley, it has all the hallmarks of great “American” songs, including fantastic harmonies, a memorable chorus and a distinct Beatles influence from the band’s legendary producer. The feel-good “Slow Down” has saxophone backing and a disco beat that draws comparisons to the then-all the rage “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack that popularized the Bee-Gees’ production. The earworm songs for me are ‘Don’t Cry Baby’, which is written by Dan Peek. A string fanfare makes the song sound purely acoustic, but the chorus sticks in your head for a long time. There is a rockier side to “Now She’s Gone”, which very clearly highlights the influence of the “Beatles”.
The cynical lyrics of Bunnell’s “Political Poachers” see a different, or at least rarely glimpsed, side of “America,” and it pairs with the rhythmic love ending “Sarah”: a classic breakup song s there never was. Both of these songs offer a stark ending to the first side, though the orchestration gives the latter a satisfying big band style.
The second side begins equally melancholy with ‘Sergeant Darkness’. It’s another song where the full orchestration and electric guitars give it an expansive sound, though its short length suggests it could have been taken further. “Are You There” is marked by an unusual vocal delivery that doesn’t quite convince, but a bold rock electric guitar accompaniment gives the song interest. “These Brown Eyes” is one of the less notable songs on the album and fails to garner attention even after a few listens.
Beckley’s “Monster” is the shortest song on the album and one of the darkest. In direct contrast, Peek’s latest song, “Hurricane”, is upbeat and sounds like an homage to “The Beach Boys” and “The Beatles” (specifically “Day Tripper”), and is another catchy number of the type that wrote so well. . The final song, ‘Down to the Water’, ensures that a periodically melancholic album ends on a high note. Bunnell’s song is simply constructed and not particularly memorable, but the harmonized vocals are typical of the group and, as always, pleasing to the ear.
Despite some great songs on the album, ‘Harbor’ was a commercial failure upon release. Although ‘Harbor’ features a more heavily produced and musically diverse output, for many fans of their music, ‘America’ was at its best for its early albums which had an earthy acoustic sound. It’s worth persevering with ‘America’ and following their musical journey, because underrated albums like ‘Harbor’ have a lot of promise and strong musicality. The slightly darker twist that ‘Harbor’ takes will be embraced by some, although it’s a matter of taste. This gives the album an urgency and interest that previous ones may have lacked. Although much of the music is immediately accessible, ‘Harbor’ is also a producer and rewards repeat listening.
‘Harbor’ was released by Music on Vinyl on 180g lemon yellow translucent vinyl. The cover contains a replica of the original poster depicting the band playing in the packed Anaheim stadium in July 1976. The evocative original album cover is reproduced, and there is a full-color insert with excellent photographs including one of the group in Hawaiian. shirts. Something of an overlooked gem.
List of tracks: 1. Sun God 2. Slow Down 3. Don’t Cry Baby 4. Now She’s Gone 5. Political Poachers 6. Sarah 7. Sergeant Darkness 8. Are You There 9. Those Brown Eyes 10. Monster 11. Hurricane 12 Au run of the water Record company: music on vinyl Release date: September 23, 2022 Buy ‘America – Harbor’