What does it sound like?:
America, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Kingdom Come – strange bedfellows united by having box sets of their albums released. Let’s take these one at a time.
First up is America, who most will associate with two songs really, Ventura Highway and the ubiquitous Horse With No Name. Sadly those are only available here in a live format, as the six albums included in this set are from the latter stages of the band’s career (1979 – 85), after co founder Dan Peek had departed. I wasn’t familiar with much of the music here, but the George Martin produced Silent Letter is not bad, as is the Russ Ballard collaboration View From The Ground. However, much of the remaining albums are very much in the same vein as one song blurs into another, with none really standing out – inoffensive but unremarkable. Actually, the live set is probably the pick of the bunch, as it includes more of their earlier (and frankly better) songs.
I vaguely recall Atlanta Rhythm Section being on the bill at the 1978 Knebworth, although sadly any memory of their performance is lost in the mists of time. For the uninitiated, they are a sort of poor man’s version of The Allman Brothers or Lynrd Skynrd, the sort of act you can imagine going down a storm in the flyover states of America’s heartland. To be honest, eight albums worth of their southern rock, covering the years 1974 – 80, is hard going and very much for fans only. The earlier albums are the better ones, although their stand out song, Large Time, didn’t appear until 1978, which was the peak of their popularity. You can hear why their US-centric brand and sound didn’t translate into European success though.
Finally, we have Kingdom Come, pretty a much a vehicle for vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Lenny Wolf in the same way Boston was for Tom Scholz. The first album of the three in this set is actually a good hard rock effort, with more than a hint of Zeppelin in their sound. It’s a slickly produced effort with nods to melodic and glam rock in addition to the underling blues influences. The follow up, In Your Face, is, if anything, a better album overall, being less derivative with more heads down solid rock. The final set has a completely different set of musicians apart from Wolf – it’s a quite run of the mill metal by numbers effort, with not much to recommend it really as the main man seemed to have run out of ideas and enthusiasm.
What does it all *mean*?
Most of the albums in the three boxes come with bonus tracks, so these are a good way for fans to pick everything up on cd at a reasonable price and get rid of those old vinyl copies.
Goes well with…
Might suit people who like…
Bargains, filling in gaps in their collection.