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ART IN AMERICA

Art In America

Symphonic Prog


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bhikkhu
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Team
2 stars Despite the impressive credentials surrounding this band, they were very much victims of the time. This is a collection of very catchy, '80s style tunes. It may be a step above Asia, but it's not a big step. The music is a bit more interesting, but the musicianship is average. On the whole, it's not all that remarkable. It may be enjoyable for a casual listen, but I doubt any of the songs would be remembered long after the album was done. Just a lot of bland, AOR inspired stuff here. Best leave this one for the final cut out bin. It's not worth more than a couple of bucks.

H.T. Riekels

Report this review (#130308)
Posted Thursday, July 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaeopteryx
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I had wondered about this band for quite some time. With a name like Art in America, featuring a harp player and being produced by the one and only Eddy Offord, one can only imagine big things. The band apparently had some success, played live as an opening act for a number of big artists, and even made it into the MTV rotation during its early years. I was around in 1983, but what on earth was I doing? Dissecting worm gizzards in biology class?? I didn't hear about this group until they had long disappeared from the music industry. And then I find their CD on Ebay for one dollar. Hey, why not, let's take a chance...

Well, it certainly didn't turn out to be some amazing progalicious masterpiece. And I wasn't expecting it to. For heavens sake, it was 1983. Remember 90125? Asia? The Genesis yellow shapes album? But it doesn't really sound like Asia, or Genesis, or Yes. No, I have to give these guys some credit. They did have a rather original sound that showed some prog rock influences, but mostly heavily slanted towards an art rock/pop rock mixture. What they really remind me of... and here's the kicker... ELO Part 2. If you took ELO Part 2 and formed it in 1983 and forgot to include the orchestra, it would sound like this. Maybe a little Alan Parsons and Saga thrown in.

The version I purchased was made in 2008 and features 7 additional tracks. Some of these bonus tracks sound like they were recorded much later, but the CD insert says nothing about them. Here I thought I would be listening to nine tracks, popped it in the CD player, and whoa, 16 of the buggers! I only found the names of the tracks by looking for the album on Amazon. The bonus tracks sort of sound like what one might guess the band would sound like in the 1990s. I haven't the foggiest idea when these were recorded, so 1990s I guess? They couldn't have possibly been from Middle Ages. We can certainly rule that out.

So, some confusion, the odd thought of ELO Part 2 transporting back in time, a harp player that seems to only make her mark in the first 10 seconds or so, and I'm left thinking I just dropped pop tarts in the engine cavity of my van. OK, whatever...

Anyway, an enjoyable listen of pop-art-prog-AOR-art-pop-thing-something or other. If you like early 1980s Saga, or ELO Part 2, or other stuff like that, this might be OK for you. I doubt the rest of the prog community will be clamoring for this, even if you do find it for a dollar.

Report this review (#964778)
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Art in America were a family case since their early formation in 1977.Based in Detroit, Michigan, the band built around brothers Chris Ruetenik (aka Chris Flynn) on guitar/vocals, his brother Dan on drums and their sister Shishonee on harp/vocals.The original crew featured also bassist Jim Kuha and the odds for a good career were always there, starting from the collaboration with T Lavitz of Dixie Dregs, who filled up the spot on keys for the recordings of their debut.These would took place at the studio of Eddy Offord in Atlanta, Georgia, the same man behind the early works of Yes and ELP.In 1983 the self-titled debut of Art in America saw the light on Pavillion.

In 1983 much had changed around the Prog Rock scene.Art in America had started apparently as a Symphonic Rock outfit, but by the year of their debut their sound had transformed into a Prog/Pop amalgam similar to ASIA and YES of the same period.Still the influences from YES, GENESIS and KANSAS are evident throughout an album, that could have been really better if some more risks were taken during the recordings.Instead the Flynn family had chosen the easy way of typical song-structured compositions with plenty of AOR-flavors akin to JOURNEY or BOSTON, characterized by heart-felt melodies, intense choruses and sensitive guitar work, wrapped up in melodious and emotional pieces.This way, the work of Lavitz on keyboards is rather buried and limited in soft piano lines and atmospheric, background layers.The only symphonic thing about this album is the similarity with an ex-symphonic group like YES and the progressive elements are limited to some nice breaks, the RUSH moves in some guitar parts and a few more bombastic moments in the choruses.Otherwise, this is a standard product of the time, which will please all fans of melodic Rock and proggy AOR, as the melodies are quite nice and the group's songwriting is pretty great.

Not really a recommended album beyond the fan base of Melodic Rock/AOR.The connections with the prog movement have to do only with the dark years of the classic bands, but again anyone interested in accesible and easy-going pieces will find plenty to like in ''Art in America''...2,5 stars.

Report this review (#1054099)
Posted Saturday, October 5, 2013 | Review Permalink

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