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Ambrosia - Somewhere I've Never Travelled CD (album) cover




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3.14 | 71 ratings

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2 stars The second effort from Ambrosia is nowhere near as ambitious or creative as their debut, saved mostly by the undeniably superb musicianship of the individual players and Alan Parsons’ technical proficiency in the studio. That said, this is not particularly progressive music, more like simply very well-played and stylish pop, much in the vein of 10CC, Toto, or even Kate Bush.

Ambrosia were never really considered to be a progressive band back in their heyday, at least not in the circles I hung out in. They were skilled musicians, and their music stood out on the radio for its creative and grandiose keyboard arrangements, melodic guitar, and David Pack’s distinctive and easy-to-listen-to vocals. But the lyrics are rather trite for the most part, and there are so many nuances that remind you of other bands that it’s hard not to notice the many resemblances. “Runnin’ Away” for example, brings to mind England Dan & John Ford Coley, and even America a little bit. “Harvey” could have been a Jim Croce tune, and I suspect some people who heard it back then probably thought it was, with its strumming acoustic guitar and slightly pretentious ‘thinking mans’ lyrics.

“I Wanna’ Know” has some strikingly Eagles-like guitar work and bare-chested vocals, and “The Brunt” blends the brassy sounds of Chicago with street recordings, cowbell, and a closing vocal track that wouldn’t have sounded odd coming out of John Elephante’s mouth.

Even the most interesting track on the album (“Danse With Me George”) can’t escape comparisons, from Eric Carmen to John Hall, this despite the excellent Chopin-inspired piano passages that give some life to the work.

Speaking of John Hall, “Can’t Let a Woman” is a dead-ringer for half of the stuff Orleans did in the 70s. And “We Need You Too” could have been an early Elton John tune were it not for Pack’s instantly recognizable vocals.

The only noteworthy tracks here are “Cowboy Star”, where the spoken-word passages and string arrangements hearken back to the Moody Blues but sound just about as good as some of that band’s better works anyway; and the title track which is purely Ambrosia, but still doesn’t break any new musical ground.

Technically this is outstanding musicianship, but then again so were most of Toto’s albums. Neither band really moved into progressive territory at any point in their careers, and neither really pushed themselves to achieve even though they had the consummate talent to do so. This is a decent album, probably even good, and I should probably give it three stars for that. But these guys have proved time and again in their other side projects and collaborations with musicians throughout the business that they have the aptitude for producing stunning work. This just isn’t that work. Two stars.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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