Though known mostly in West Coast music circles, Ambrosia at the time of their debut were heavily influenced by British progressive rock.
Written by: Eric
LABEL: 20th Century
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: David Pack – vocals, guitars, keyboards * Burleigh Drummond – drums, percussion, bassoon * Joe Puerta – vocals, bass * Christopher North – keyboards, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Nice, Nice, Very Nice * 02 Time Waits For No One * 03 Holdin On To Yesterday * 04 World Leave Me Alone * 05 Make Us All Aware * 06 Lover Arrive * 07 Mama Frog * 08 Drink Of Water
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Ambrosia are one of those bands whose fan base seems to fall in two categories. Progressive rock listeners who find the first two albums of interest while crying ‘sell-out!’ with the mere mention of ‘Life Beyond L.A.’ and AOR/west coast fans who find the same albums ‘Ambrosia’ and ‘Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled’ a little too ‘quirky’.
Personally, I enjoy both sides of the band. Yes, Ambrosia at the time of their debut were heavily influenced by British progressive rock, but this should not turn away melodic rock listeners. Ambrosia were working the same territory musically as Kansas and Styx in 1975 and although I am hard pressed to call Ambrosia a pomp band, there are some moments on this record, and the follow-up that will make fans of the sound stand up and take notice.
Opening with ‘Nice, Nice, Very Nice’ and lyrics credited to cult writer Kurt Vonnegut, it’s clear this is not going to be an average rock album. The songs psychedelic lyrics and imagery are offset by the superb keyboard work of Christopher North.
‘Time Waits For No One’ takes us even deeper into the progressive sound using Javanese gongs and a Russian balalaika ensemble. Sound a bit to heavy? It’s not! Very melodic with beautiful vocals from David Pack. If I were ever to compile a list of the best 70’s rock ballads, ‘Holdin’ On To Yesterday’ would surely be in the top five with a timeless quality that still holds up to this day.
‘Make Us All Aware’ again features North’s driving keyboards. Man, was this guy underrated! ‘Mama Frog’ is the strangest and most progressive track here, reminding me of Rick Wakeman‘s early solo work complete with narration. ‘Drink Of Water’ closes the album on a high note with stunning organ work and a hauntingly beautiful melody.
Ambrosia would tour heavily in support of this album with Kansas, The Strawbs, Johnny Winter and others. But I imagine some of this material might have been a little too difficult to relate to in a smoke filled hockey arena. I wonder.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)