100 Days of Vinyl – Records I Really, Really, REALLY, Like #100 “History: America’s Greatest Hits”

The vinyl 100 begins now..  And, I just want to say, I am not kidding and with all sincerity I think “History: America’s Greatest Hits” is the perfect encapsulation of their MOR sound, as it pulls the best of their hit singles from each of their respective albums and includes them all on one album which, over the years, has become one of my guilty pleasure albums.. (and a couple more will find their way onto the list as I progress through the next 99 albums) So where, how and when did it start..

Sometime in the year 2007, when I turned 30, I started to listen to a classic rock station in my office via my tiny AM/FM radio.. It was one of the few stations (that I could tolerate) that actually came through on that tiny AM/FM radio. I’d listen to this station every day, for 8 hours day.. I even found myself listening to this same station in my car on the way home from work. I hated this station.. But I still listened to it. I don’t know why I do that to myself. Hate is a strong word, I know.. But I noticed something, the hate and frustration and the inability to stop listening to this station began to manifest from something I began to figure out after the days and weeks and months of subjecting myself to this torture or personal endurance test… This station’s playlist.. It was incredibly repetitive. In between the Billy Joel, Elton John and Fleetwood Mac they’d play a lot of Seals & Croft, James Taylor, and America. I am not a music snob by any means. So let me explain..

Being subjected to a genre and period of music constantly does something to someone who sits under fluorescent lighting all day. I started to imagine life in the mid 70’s (I was born in 1977). I started thinking about Los Angeles and freeways.. I started thinking about warm sunny summer days, easy listening music… Yachts and mustaches. I started thinking about middle of the road commercial radio and how non threatening and accessible and how overly slick produced the songs were, and how incredibly popular it might have been at the time, and the types of people who related to or just simply enjoyed this music while possibly sipping a piña colada (this station also thought the piña colada song was appropriate to play at 6:30am) . And while time traveling in my head I’d get some work done too, I think..

The band America stood out the most to me. Songs like “A Horse With No Name”, “I Need You”, “Ventura Highway”, and “Tin Man” were played A LOT on this radio station. “Sister Golden Hair” too, with it’s deceptive acoustic strumming intro that every time it did come on I’d think I was about to hear George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” but oh no, America fooled me each time. If you disregard the odd, descriptive lyrics of “A Horse With No Name” such as this fine example “The heat was hot..” really? You could easily have a Neil Young inspired song. (People did confuse this song for a Young song actually). Then there are the lyrics that resonate when you’re just drunk, and by drunk I mean feeling pretty good, “Oz never did give nothin’ to the Tin Man, that he didn’t already have” yes! This was music that resonated and flowed as much as the wine did in 2007 during my life at the time. I love it and I have no shame in saying so. I even own multiple copies of this album on vinyl which is weird, I know. This album became my first “drinking album.”

America knew what they were doing, and they were talented musicians. Their albums were well produced in the mid 70’s and that is due in part to them enlisting the production of George Martin.. The man who produced the Beatles and was influential in the development of their sound on record in the 60’s. And on a final note, the cover art for America’s Greatest Hits album was drawn by the late Phil Hartman, of SNL fame and also the voice of Troy McClure of the Simpsons.

So begins my Vinyl 100. This will be interesting.

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