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Articles Home » 1982 Articles » Ambrosia - 1982 Road Island
 
Ambrosia - 1982 Road Island



ARTIST: Ambrosia
ALBUM: Road Island
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: BSK 3638
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 2005, Wounded Bird (USA), WOU-3638 * 2014, Rock Candy Records, CANDY240

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: David Pack - vocals, guitars, keyboards * Joe Puerta - bass * Burleigh Drummond - drums * David Cutler Lewis - keyboards * Christopher North - organ, clarinet

TRACK LISTING: 01 For Openers (Welcome Home) * 02 Still Not Satisfied * 03 Kid No More * 04 Feelin' Alone Again * 05 How Can You Love Me * 06 Fool Like Me * 07 Ice Age * 08 Endings

WEBLINKS: www.ambrosiaweb.com


Background
Ambrosia started out as a progressive outfit with pop leanings on their 1975 self titled debut before assuming an orchestral sound on the 1976 follow up 'Somewhere I've Never Travelled'. Their shifting sound found its niche on 1978's 'Life Beyond LA' with a soft AOR sound characterised by the hit single 'How Much I Feel'. Greater success was attained with 1980's 'One Eighty' which yielded a pair of smash hits in 'Biggest Part Of Me' and 'You're The Only Woman', lite rock staples played endlessly to this day. Ambrosia took a bold step on their final album however, pursuing a lumbering hard rock sound totally opposed to the gentle strains of the previous two albums. The band roped in producer James Guthrie, who had worked with Judas Priest and Pink Floyd, to achieve the desired sound.


The Songs
Opening track 'For Openers (Welcome Home)' is the most well known song off the album, and was not a hit, complimenting the heavier sound. The drums are thunderous, overshadowing some menacing riffs. The sense of melody is intact, but the overall muscle of the sound sets an immediate tone. 'Still Not Satisfied' opens with a bass and organ riff reeking of Balance, but the urgency in music and shifting harmonies DOES satisfy. A classy synth fest kicks off 'Kid No More' which races along frenetically with a demented sax and xylophone interlude among the wall of noise. It has to be said that the mid song instrumental passage is more than similar to Gillan's 'Back In The Game' though. Ballad mode comes in the form of 'Feelin' Alive Again', which is more mature than the past ballads, real AOR instead of MOR. It has an orchestral arrangement, but it doesn't overshadow the guitar. AOR heaven is located with 'How Can You Love Me' and its massive hook, unmissable stuff. 'Fool Like Me' is an early 70's styled acoustic composition, with progressive undertones that remind one of old Genesis or even Dust's quieter moments. 'Ice Age' continues this approach, only heavier with some beastly riffs and a power trio displaying untapped potential. Career ending number, suitably titled 'Endings' is reflective, with nice vocals from the talented Pack and a sentimental sounding series of instrumentals, both guitar and piano.


In Summary
'Road Island' was not what the public expected and fared poorly with the lack of a hit single, even though there were some available from the album. Ambrosia split soon after, the band feeling the race had been run. Most of the band went on to produce and become session players, with only David Pack's 1985 solo affair 'Anywhere You Go' the most notable album from any band member. Pack has become a Grammy Award winning producer in the pop-gospel category, a far cry from the force of 'Road Island.' Rightfully 'RI' has attained legend status in AOR circles and is yet another must have for the collection.


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Comments
#1 | Jokerdean on January 10 2008 18:33:18
Wow looks like one I need to check out..Thumbs Up
#2 | rostoned on July 03 2008 12:34:59
James Guthrie did an amazing job on this one plus the song are fabulous= KLASSIK AOR wrapped in a very charming artwork. Essential stuff indeed, reissued on CD first in Japan then by Wounded Bird in US. Buy or die. yummy
#3 | Eric on July 25 2008 01:04:26
This band was so great, but why don't I like this record? One reason might be the songs which I don't think are fully developed or am I just missing something?
#4 | jeffduran on July 25 2008 02:01:13
You have to admit 'How Can You Love Me' is a classic!
#5 | rostoned on August 05 2008 18:28:44
This was their worst seller in the US by far peaking at a very disappointing #115 in the albums chart after all their previous albums reached at least the top 100 of the Billboard albums chart: two of them going to the top 30 and one to the top 20.

'For Openers' charted very low on the Mainstream Rock chart (#44 during a 2 week run) and 'How Can You Love Me' did badly too on the Hot 100 (#86 during a 4 week run).
#6 | AOR Lee on September 13 2013 05:43:55
I also find this album cover quite charming, but the masses may have missed the point completely at time of release. A great album, For Openers is a slow burning powerhouse, How Can You Love Me perfect radio AOR and Endings as haunting as it was prophetic, being the last Ambrosia track for many years. I remember quite a debate in the comments on the old HOTR site between the virtues of this album vs One80 ?? Both cracking records imo
#7 | gdazegod on September 13 2013 07:40:39
Gosh, your memory is better than mine Lee.. must be getting old.. lol!
#8 | reyno-roxx on September 13 2013 20:15:25
I think this album should have been called 'One Eighty' as 'Road Island' really was a complete about turn, mainly due to label execs indicating the band should go back to the old style they were originally signed for playing. BTW, the English cartoonist who painted the cover was also responsible for the deluxe version of Slash's self-titled release of 2010 vintage.
#9 | AOR Lee on September 21 2013 06:01:39
George, the debate was between you and Alun. You favoured the more crafted AOR on One80 and Alun favoured the harder approach on Road Island. I remember it so well because after reading I decided I better get both albums and be done with it!
#10 | AOR Lee on September 21 2013 06:11:39
Agreed Reyno, total about turn here. Interesting that label execs would encourage a band to go harder and more progressive in '82, an age where it was all about being more accessible and radio friendly ? I often try to imagine how a 1984 album could have sounded, combining the best of this and one80 ? Pity they packed it in so early
#11 | reyno-roxx on September 21 2013 09:00:13
There is a new album being recorded, although Burleigh Drummond is keeping the direction close to his chest. Methinks it'll lie someplace between the two directions....and beyond L.A.
#12 | AOR Lee on September 21 2013 12:09:43
Now that's something I would be very curious to hear, and probably many more of the site regulars as well
#13 | dangerzone on September 21 2013 16:27:17
I honestly have no recollection of that debate! These days I'd probably have the reverse opinion.
#14 | gdazegod on September 22 2013 01:41:38
Same for me. But I do remember the Giuffria debate..!
#15 | Eric on September 22 2013 03:43:46
Lol! So do I...!
#16 | gdazegod on October 04 2013 16:32:08
YouTube Video:
#17 | Eric on March 07 2015 13:49:48
I've warmed to this album recently after picking up the Rock Candy reissue. Maybe i'm mellowing in my old age...
 
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