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4.8 out of 5 stars
Original Album Series
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2012
Format: Audio CD
This is a box set of America's first five albums. All five were hits and include several hit singles. Two of the albums were produced by legendary Beatles producer, George Martin. Their first album, America, spent 5 weeks at the top of the Billboard album chart in 1972 and was certified PLATINUM by the RIAA. It was produced by British rock pioneer Ian Samwell. Homecoming peaked at number 8 on the album chart and was also certified PLATINUM in the US. Hat Trick hit 28 in 1973. Holiday reached number 3 and was certified GOLD in 1974. Hearts reached number 4 and was also certified GOLD.

This set includes two number 1 singles (A Horse With No Name and Sister Golden Hair), four top ten songs (I Need You, Ventura Highway, Tin Man, and Lonely People), two other top 40 hits (Don't Cross The River and Daisy Jane), and well as several other songs that charted or received significant airplay on stations that played album tracks (Sandman, Only in Your Heart, To Each His Own, Muskrat Love, Baby Its Up To You, Another Try, Woman Tonight, and Old Virginia).

An excellent collection if you do not already own the individual releases. If you like 70's folk rock/pop, you should enjoy this set.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This is a nice collection. It is probably worth the money and the music itself is pure gold. I owned the vinyl and some greatest hits CDs, so this was very tempting - but I listened side-by-side with the remastered greatest hits CD I purchased (blue cover.. The Complete Greatest Hits), and this is inferior sound on most tracks. Sister Golden Hair is playing right now and this set does not have the clarity as others and the difference does not manifest as just lower level/amplitude/volume. Too bad - it could have been so much better. The remastered History: America's Greatest Hits has even better clarity on some songs.. e.g. Horse with no Name - the guitar on this one sounds like a real acoustic steel 6-string instead of a muffled studio mix, but does differ from the original intent. On the other hand, Ventura Highway on that (History) collection sounds awful. It is pretty surprising that there are such severe differences in the production of the same songs across these original albums and the greatest hits albums - some good, some bad, but overall the clarity of this set would be improved with remastering (which is probably in the works).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
If you like trhe band 'America', you'll love this complete collection!! Saw them live recently and this brought back a lot of great memories. It will for you too, I'm sure.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This will make a perfect Father's Day/Anniversary gift for my husband. He loves the classic oldies and this is one he can add to his collection!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
In these days of "remasters" and "remixes" that are just over-compressed, over-emphasized and treble-boosted just to make them sound good on the I-pad, it is a real pleasure to have a remaster done well! Top notch in sound quality, you'd have to go to SACD or something to get better. As for the songs, you already know about them.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This is, for the price of one CD (thereabout), the first five album releases from one of the pioneering bands in the California/Country Rock genus which greatly influenced American pop/rock in the early to middle nineteen seventies. There are no studio flubs nor previously unreleased live performances, etc. This is one-stop shopping that gets you five very important recordings from an age when the music (for the most part) was pure and honest, as bands like America enjoyed a freedom to create and express themselves in their own way for a brief interval in rock history. America's first album gives testimony to this claim. The entire album is built upon experimental acoustic rock that didn't really hold much promise of being chart-worthy. I'm sure no record producer in the world would have predicted a song like "A Horse With No Name" would leap to great heights on the Billboard Top 40, much less that it would leap to the number one spot and attach itself to the pinnacle position for three full weeks. The only real chart potential the album had (looking back, in retrospect, with all things considered) was in the Gerry Beckley should-have-been-number-one-song, "I Need You". Gerry Beckley told me, in person, that he wrote the song when he was only sixteen years old. (Gerry and Dewey typically hang around after shows to meet with fans - these guys are for real!) I'm not sure that a prettier love ballad has ever been written. I could go on for hours about why this collection is such a gem, but I'll let you take it from here. I already had four of the five CDs (I failed to pick up Hat Trick at any point throughout the passage of many long years), but this five-album set was irresistible! I paid about twenty dollars for something I would have paid much more for! That's the standard, everyday price for this trophy collection (subject to market fluctuations, no doubt)! These are the best works from one of the nineteen seventies' most important and influential bands. And, if I may segue a bit and be so bold, as I will...I just want to make it known that Neil Young WISHES he ever had a voice as beautiful and true as Dewey Bunnell's was - and still is! Let history record my words and know them to be fact! Now, order this set! Do it! Now! Off you go!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
America certainly tore up the charts in the early-to-mid-70s with this, their first 5 albums. Their first album was by far their best. Their original dream of folk/rock was competently displayed with a fresh sound that boasted an original sound (delicately influenced by predecessors such as Dylan and CSNY). Hits such as A Horse With No Name and I Need You brought this album commercial success, but there were more impressive songs on the album. Wonderful tunes with a good number of acoustic and electric jams make for a fantastic album. The second album, Homecoming was not as strong.....but it was a good continuation of the original dream. Hits like Ventura Highway, Don't Cross the River and California Revisited mixed well with more great tunes to bring us another successful and pleasant album. Their third album, Hat Trick was much more of a struggle. They seemed to be searching for a sound and someone to rip off. Their original dream seemed to have evaporated and they appeared to try to regain their feel by attempting to adopt a Crosby/Stills/Nash sound. They failed to pull it off. The tune Muskrat Love was more popular when recorded by Captain & Tennille, even though neither group wrote the tune (and it's not a tune to be proud of, either way). Despite a few decent tunes, this album was the worst in this collection and brought them no big hits. They used an orchestra on their fourth album, Holiday, as they were still searching to capture a new sound. This time, they tried to emulate Sgt. Pepper. It wasn't perfect, but the album was a great improvement over Hat Trick. Holiday was a little spotty, but it was a good album overall.......and it brought us the hits, Tin Man and Lonely People. They were recovering and refinding their sound........and it was a good thing. They kept the orchestra for their fifth album, Hearts, and they continued to rediscover their own sound. This album was still kind of spotty as they struggled to maintain their popularity. This album did have its fine moments, including the hits Sister Golden Hair, Daisy Jane and Woman Tonight. Still, their struggle to create was more noticeable on the last 3 albums than it was on the first 2.
America was an important force in pop music in the first half of the '70s. Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckeley were good songwriters and talented musicians. I'm glad I got this 5 album collection, because I was able to make an incredible playlist with selections from all 5 CDs. These 5 discs were the most important albums of this group's pop career. I liked this group enough that I'm happy I got this collection. A great playlist made it well worth the cost. But their uncertainty and search for a sound was hard to ignore on a few of these albums.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2015
Format: Audio CD
If you want to buy the 'Very Best Of America', you could go for a ten to fifteen dollar compilation album. Without a doubt you'll find your radio favourites such as "Tin Man", "A Horse with No Name", "Sister Golden Hair", "I need you" and "Ventura Highway", and a few other songs you may have heard over the years, maybe "Lonely People" or even something like "The Border".

Perhaps, if you really just wanted a couple of songs, such as "Ventura Highway" and "Horse with no name", for that sake of reminding you of that time, and aren't really interested in the band America, then a simple greatest hits collection could be the way to go.

However, my recommendation, even for the casual fan, would be to purcahse the 'five pack'; America - The Original Album Series, which includes the albums "America" "Homecomming" "Hat Trick" "Holiday" and "Hearts". These are the bands first five albums and also their five most successful albums.

So why go for this album rather than a simple hits package? Surely a simple greatest hits single CD is a better buy for a casual fan? It will be cheaper and I only need to hear their hits, which are most likely their best songs?
Well firstly, this is only a few dollars more. Five albums for something like $20 is a great bargain for money and it's, surely, not out of most peoples' budget, or if it is I would suggest it's worth saving up for.

However, my strongest recommendation for this album is that, with all good bands, a greatest hits package doesn't cover all their best material. With a quality artist, you buy their album because you like their hit singles, for example 'A Horse with no Name', but when you listen to the album you find other songs, such as "Three Roses", that are every bit as good as, or even better than, the hit single. For example, I don't know any greatest hits package that contains songs like "Clarice" "Riverside" "Saturn Nights" "Green Monkey" "Old Virginia" "Tomorrow", among others, even though these songs rate as some of the best they recorded, right alongside their biggest hits. My absolute favourite America song, "Submarine Ladies", is to America what "Into White" is to Cat Stevens, featuring Harmonica, Banjo, and a really homely, country vibe. I would never have heard that song on the radio, and would have completely missed out if I only picked up a greatest hits collection. I don't see the benefit of a music fan, even a cursory one, to miss out on great music to save 'a few bucks'.

I would also recommend picking up their album "Hideaway" - now a lot of people don't like this album but I don't see any America collection complete without the songs "Can't You See" "Amber Cascades" and "Today's the Day" - the latter two do appear on certain hits albums but "Can't you see" doesn't. To pick up the "Original Album Series" and "Hideaway" together, you will have, prettymuch, all the very best songs America ever recorded, find many hidden nuggets, and together it will cost you about $25 - $30, which is simply worth it if you are a fan of 70's pop music in general or folk-rock. Of their other albums, "Harbor" is a great album, but has a very different sound with a lot of different arrangements, so isn't necessarily recommended. "Alibi", "Hourglass" and the less popular "Human Nature" are nice albums, if not quite on the same level as their 70's hits, and the song "And Forever" from "Silent Letter" is really gorgeous too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I own the greatest hits cd, but will say that this is the better way of getting to know the music of the America. The hits are all t here...and at this price it's a great alternative to the greatest hits cd. I think in hindsight I paid about the same for both, and this way I got more music. There is a lot more to discover here though than the greatest hits cd suggests. They come in replica album sleeves, which is great for my new collection (of replica covers). But this is a great way for the casual fan to get the hits and the more devoted fans to learn more about the great music this group put out. I highly recommend this, and at this price, you really can't lose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I was a big fan of America's first album in the early seventies, the self-titled "America", with "A Horse with No Name". I checked out some of their later albums, but found there were only a few songs there that I really liked. Surprisingly, I find that all the albums in this set are really good, and I feel like I'm discovering the group for the first time. A few of the pop songs in the later albums get a little cheesy, but they still have their characteristic mysterious offbeat sound on some of their offerings. And to tell you the truth, the cheesy ones aren't too bad, either.
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