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LIVE AT THE GALAXY

Ambrosia

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4 stars This first live CD by Ambrosia is wonderfully recorded. To hear songs like Drink Of Water and Time Waits For No One live is a dream come true. This is Ambrosia captured as they now sound in 2002 and it is amazing. It is a must have CD for all Ambrosia fans even though David Pack is no longer with the band.

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Send comments to philhepple (BETA) | Report this review (#125073)
Posted Thursday, June 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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Prog Folk
1 stars 1.5 stars really!!

Until recently, I had no idea Ambrosia dinosaur had survived the 80's ice age, or that they had reformed in the semi-comatosed late 90's. And they actually toured for a couple/few years. And he we get a live album that doesn't specify in which year, but at least gives us the Galaxy club as venue. With three out of four original members, but not the all-important David Packs, Ambrosia hit the road as a sextet, including the Ollestad brothers (both multi-instrumentalists) and lead guitarist Jackson. I have always thought that the addition of musicians in a group was not always a good thing past the quartet being transformed into a quintet, usually this bringing a lot of watering down in the band's musical propos. And with ambrosia, which I was never a fan of, this passage from quartet to septet is more than alarming, it would be downright pre-occupying if a cared a single little bit about them.

Although I had appreciated their-Steely Dan-derived debut (except those two ugly AOR hits), tolerated their APP-cloned second album, hated everything afterwards, so I had some kind of hope after seeing the track list proposed: about half the tracks came from their debut, the rest coming mostly from the third and fourth album, once the group stopped pretending "prog" attributes. But from the outset, there was no doubt about it though, the track list proposed made this a "greatest hits of-live" album

Alas, my hopes were quickly trashed as the sextet lost all of their debut album's subtleties, and the tracks coming from it have been watered down to pure 100% mindless AOR juice, made from concentrates, but no pulp added. Right from the start, Ambrosia gives us the hideous Nice, Very Nice turd that plagued later 70's FM stations, but the other Holdin' Out To Yesterday, Drink Of Water & Times Waits For No One arte peppered around the succession of AOR mouthwash basin that's called their repertoire. While probably the best tracks of theirs, it seems that even as a sextet, they can't seem to recuperate from Packs' absence, and these tracks are executed fairly but don't come up to the waist level of the studio versions, the Steely Dan-ish feel having disappeared.

Yet, these I just mentioned are actually the top of the iceberg quality-wise, because it's all downhill from that moment on. The three tracks from the fourth album are actually more faithfully rendered than the above-mentioned debut album songs. But the songwriting is simply uninventive, AOR-ish and puke-inducing love ditties. Only one track comes from the symphonically-pomp Somewhere album: the title track, which gets butchered a bit because the strings are missing. BTW: don't get your hopes up, the Beatles cover is atrocious. There are two tracks I couldn't place through their five albums, but one of those is a new track from the Ollestad newcomers, and it sounds perfectly Ambrosia-esque, while the Mama Don't Understand was just one more of the same.

Musically, outside the drumming, the musos are more than apt (but they're six instead of four), but they sound like Journey or Rep Speedwagon. So obviously if you like the last two bands named, run for this album, you're probably in for a treat, because the sound is excellent and AOR-wise, this is indeed their greatest hits done live. But the more meaningful tracks of their first two albums are inconspicuously absent (one man is absent), which reinforces my poor opinion of this "thing".

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#166277)
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2008 | Review Permalink

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