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




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3.07 | 66 ratings

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4 stars While not heavily progressive, Ambrosia had a definitely proggy attitude. One of those bands who successfully combined poppish melodies with unusual arrangements and stellar musicianship, they garnered both critical and popular praise alike. The key to Ambrosia's success was their song-oriented approach to art rock. The song came first, and then the progressive elements were added to the mix, yielding a hybrid that scored some bona fide hits (i.e. "Holding on to Yesterday," "Nice, Nice, Very Nice," and "How Much I Feel") while retaining a progressive edge. Other similar bands in this pseudo-prog vein included Gypsy, The Alan Parsons Project, The Moody Blues, Supertramp, and The Beatles.

Like the Beatles before them, Ambrosia had a knack for creating what one might call experimental pop. Ambrosia tunes were always heavily melodic, but maintained an adventurous spirit that would often springboard a song from a chorus into a complex instrumental centerpiece or ethereal bridge. This, their second album (produced by Alan Parsons of Dark Side Of The Moon fame), features a smooth mix of styles from the radio-ready pop of "Can't Let a Woman" and "Runnin' Away" to the lushly symphonic "Somewhere I've Never Travelled" and "Cowboy Star." And that's not to mention the proggy pieces "I Want to Know," "Brunt," and "Danse With Me George."

Several of the songs on this album, such as the frolicsome "Danse With Me George," feature full orchestrations that go well beyond the usual background string arrangements common in other pop music. The terrific "Cowboy Star," for example, boasts an orchestrated middle piece that sounds like a soundtrack for a western, before a thunderous organ bridge brings the song back around to its closing vocals. "Danse With Me George," which is the most overtly progressive piece on the album, starts with a classical piano lead in, after which the verses pave the way to a glorious mix of styles, including a barroom rag, the fully orchestrated Le Danse, a 20s-sounding refrain, and a Spanish section before the classical piano leads the song into a Zappa-ish bit of fun. Finally, a vocal bridge takes the song back into the final verse and a magnificent classical ending. Really wonderful stuff.

Ambrosia's adventurous yet accessible music was one of the high points of the 70s. If you missed out on them, grab this album, as well as their first, self-titled album. (Later albums, while good, lost much of the band's progressive edge.) Unless you're one of those stuffy types who can't stand a little well composed pop mixed in with your prog (you know who you are!), I guarantee you'll be utterly charmed by this talented group.

| 4/5 |


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