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  • Highway: 30 Years of America
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Highway: 30 Years of America Box set

25 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, July 18, 2000
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$64.97 $41.95

Editorial Reviews

Long before MTV unplugged, America wed innocuous West Coast folk à la CSNY to post-British invasion pop (Beatles producer George Martin twiddled the knobs on many of their most enduring hits) with just a hint of psychedelic madness, managing to create something uniquely, well, American. Though many detractors may question whether a three-disc, 30-year retrospective is necessary or even palatable, it can be argued that Jane's Addiction, Cowboy Junkies, Counting Crows, Edie Brickell, and Joe Pernice's vaguely psychedelic acoustic rock wouldn't have found a toehold had their audiences not cut their teeth on the airwave ubiquity of "Horse with No Name." Sure, the lyrics were often banal ("Like the winter needs the spring / I need you") or absurd ("Seasons crying no despair / alligator lizards in the air") But Gerry Beckley, Dan Peek, and Dewey Bunnell wrote lovely songs, with beautifully interwoven harmonies and complex, interlocking acoustic guitar alchemy. It's a heavy heart indeed that can't be lightened by the guitar cascade that opens "Ventura Highway."

Though the first disk contains many of the band's most recognizable moments from their first three albums, disk 2 contains most of the box set's surprises and enjoyable moments. With George Martin, they found their Svengali, and he drove the band to write much more solid songs, fleshing them out beautifully in the studio. "Sister Golden Hair," "Daisy Jane," and "Tin Man" stand at the top of the America ouevre. Add to that the rediscovered joys of "Muskrat Love" (go ahead and laugh--it's a great song), "Woman Tonight," "Watership Down," "God of the Sun" and the dark-horse gem, "Sergeant Darkness." Disc 3 may give anti-Americans ammo as the group (minus Dan Peek) slide into the morass of adult contemporary pop (though charting surprising hits with "You Can Do Magic" and "The Border"). But the addition of early demos of "Ventura Highway" and "Riverside" and other early tracks saves it from the no-play stack. --Tod Nelson

Disc: 1
1. Riverside
2. A Horse With No Name
3. I Need You
4. Rainy Day
5. Here
6. Three Roses
See all 18 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Muskrat Love
2. Green Monkey
3. She's Gonna Let You Down (Single Edit)
4. Rainbow Song
5. Tin Man
6. Another Try
See all 25 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. California Dreamin'
2. All My Life
3. Only Game In Town
4. 1960
5. Survival
6. The Last Unicorn
See all 21 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 18, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: July 18, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B00004TL27
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,831 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By William Merrill VINE VOICE on July 18, 2000
Format: Audio CD
While I consider America's music a guilty pleasure (what self-respecting rock fan could admit to liking "Muskrat Love"?), it's a great pleasure nonetheless. Their 1975 Greatest Hits collection called "History" was an excellent compilation, but they really get the full treatment on the new "30 Years" box set. All the familiar songs I've loved are present - "Only In Your Heart" with its fun fake ending and reprise (which drove DJs crazy back in the days before CDs), "Horse With No Name," "Tin Man," et al. While the band's best work was from their Warner days (well represented here), this set also picks up songs from their later stints with other labels. What makes the box even better, though, is a generous helping of rarities and unreleased material. The five demo recordings are interesting to hear, particularly a raw but lively version of "Ventura Highway" (probably my all-time favorite America tune). All in all, "30 Years" is a thorough and entertaining career summation of a band pigeonholed as CSNY imitators at the start, a tag this set shows was unfair and inadequate to describe their marvelously melodic brand of folk-rock.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Fan on September 3, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Contains nearly all their hits and classic album tracks. Plus it contains several songs and versions never before released. It really needed a 4th disk to be fully comprehesive though. It is missing material from their 1998 Human Nature CD. It is my understanding that Rhino couldn't come to terms with the label that released that CD. As a consequence this collection is missing From A Moving Train, which was a minor hit in the US but a big hit overseas. But having said that, this collection is very strong and a must for America fans!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John Corbett on November 16, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Three decades, seventeen chart hits, and at least nineteen albums after they hit it big with "A Horse With No Name", America finally has a well-deserved box set to add to their accomplishments. Perhaps the only complaint about the set is that it could have used a fourth disc just to fit the rest of their classic hits and album tracks.
For those who remember America as the group that did "Ventura Highway" or "Sister Golden Hair", this box set will be a true revelation. Hidden classics like "Survival", "Amber Cascades", and "Can't Fall Asleep To A Lullaby" get dusted off, while all of America's better known hits have been remastered and sound better than ever.
The first two discs give a generous helping of America's seventies material, especially the first three pre-George Martin albums. The third disc attempts, with less success, to cram the most recent 21 years and a handful of demo tracks into a single CD. In the process, the group's charming 1982 hit "Right Before Your Eyes" was left off, as were all songs from the critically-acclaimed 1998 release, Human Nature. But then this is just another reason why anyone who appreciates America's music will probably not want to stop after only buying Highway.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 3, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As a fan since the very beginning, I am delighted to finally have this collection in my possession. Many of their early recordings have been put to CD in one offering, which through the first 5 LPs (America, Homecoming, Hat Trick, Holiday, Hearts) was both their creative and commercial zenith.

Such album cuts as 'three roses', 'here', 'hat trick', 'rainbow song', 'another try', as well as several others, show off the classic harmonies and melodic signature of America.

Also included is a fairly comprehensive booklet which offers insights from all 3 members as well as George Martin about the various stages and recordings of the band.

I may be a bit stingy with just 4 stars, but given that the Hearts LP has just the 3 singles included in this compilation ('sister golden hair', 'daisy jane' and 'woman tonight') I find it quite mystifying, since both 'story of a teenager' and 'company' are fine works, with the latter being played by the band in several of their concerts which I attended. Also, they did not include 'head and heart' from Homecoming, which is a much stronger song than some of the later offerings that are included in disc 3. One other note: both their 'Silent Letter' and 'Alibi' LPs are left in the lurch as well. I guess a fan cannot truly be happy until he is given full control to make his own historical compilation.

In all, a small quibble to make. If you fancy yourself an America fan, than this 3 CD set is easily the most comprehensive offering available today.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Barry P. Silber on June 21, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
America's career has spanned over 4 decades with a plethora of top ten singles, and top-charting albums as well. Yet, most rock critics have either ignored America or dismissed them as a "light-weight" rock group. I probably have a better chance of hitting the Florida lottery than America has being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To give an example of the "so-called" critics, Stephen Thomas Erlewine [...], gives "Highway" a 4 and a half star review. However, after praising the 3 box CD, he states, "Make no mistake-America is decidedly uncool". Well, I say to you, Mr. Erlewine and others, I really don't give a damn what you think!
I have seen America live almost a dozen times since 1972, and they always present an enjoyable, tight set. Their longevity, single/album sales, and their talent for making lovely music belie the critics' musings.

Out of 64 selections, there are some misses here, but even an unfamiliar listener can appreciate the melodic songs as well as America's unique harmonies. As one reviewer stated previously, there are a few omissions, such as the gorgeous, "I Don't Believe in Miracles",from the "Alibi" LP. But...look at all the hit singles as well as album tracks here: The requisite: "Horse with No Name", "Ventura Highway" (one of my favorites), "Muskrat Love" (which The Captain and Tenille bastardized!), "I Need You", and their last major hit, "You Can Do Magic". Album surprises include: "Old Man Took", "She's Gonna Let You Down", the infectious "Woman Tonight", "Special Girl". The George Martin-influenced, Disc #2 really stands out in this collection, surpassing Disc #1, which provides an early America history, and Disc #3, which has some new stuff and some unreleased remixes. I could go on and on, but it's almost all good.

Make no mistake, America: Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley, deserve their place in Rock history. This compilation provides evidence why.
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