Genre: Folk-Rock, Soft Rock
Musicians:Dan Peek – guitar, keyboards, vocals, Gerry Beckley – guitar, keyboards, vocals, bass guitar, Dewey Bunnell – guitar, vocals, percussion, Joe Osborn – bass guitar, Hal Blaine – drums, percussion, Gary Mallaber – drums and percussion
Engineer:Bill Halverson, Chuck Leary, Mike Stone
Mastering Engineer: Lee Herschberg
Homecoming is the second studio album by America. It is acoustic guitar-based, with a more pronounced electric guitar and keyboard section than their first album. This second effort helped continue the band’s success, and includes one of their best known hits, “Ventura Highway”. For this album and the next six throughout the next five years, the group traditionally chose titles beginning with the letter “H” (the self-titled debut album became unofficially included in this distinction when fans started referring to it as the “Horse with No Name” album when that track was added to later pressings).
My copy of this LP is in a tri-fold jacket and on the green Warner Bros label, which was known for being very good pressings and that continues here.
Side one begins with “Ventura Highway”. This hit is one of my favorites on this LP. From Wikipedia:Dewey Bunnell, the song’s vocalist and writer, has said that the lyric “alligator lizards in the air” in the song is a reference to the shapes of clouds in the sky he saw in 1963 while his family was driving down the coast from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California, where they had a flat tire. While his father changed the tire, he and his brother stood by the side of the road and watched the clouds and saw a road sign for “Ventura”. In the booklet for the boxed-set, Highway, he states that the song “reminds me of the time I lived in Omaha as a kid and how we’d walk through cornfields and chew on pieces of grass. There were cold winters, and I had images of going to California. So I think in the song I’m talking to myself, frankly: ‘How long you gonna stay here, Joe?’ I really believe that ‘Ventura Highway’ has the most lasting power of all my songs. It’s not just the words — the song and the track have a certain fresh, vibrant, optimistic quality that I can still respond to”. The song has a “Go West, young man” motif in the structure of a conversation between an old man named Joe and a young and hopeful kid. Joe was modeled after a “grumpy” old man he had met while his dad was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi at Keesler Air Force Base. He also stated “I remember vividly having this mental picture of the stretch of the coastline traveling with my family when I was younger. Ventura Highway itself, there is no such beast, what I was really trying to depict was the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1, which goes up to the town of Ventura.” “That’s Gerry and Dan doing a harmony on two guitars on the intro. I remember us sitting in a hotel room, and I was playing the chords, and Gerry got that guitar line, and he and Dan worked out that harmony part. That’s really the hook of the song“.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventura_Highway
The second track “To Each His Own”, is a pop ballad and one of my favorite tracks on the LP. “Don’t Cross the River” is a folk-rock style song and the banjo gives it a bit of country flavor, good song too. Track four gives us “Moon Song” with the signature America sound. Track five, “Only in Your Heart”, includes some keyboard/synth work, which is not the norm for this band. Yes, it is a good song too.
Side two begins with a good solid song titled, “Till the Sun Comes Up Again”. “Cornwall Blank” is the second song on side two and a great song. It is similar in nature to the song “Donkey Jaw” from the band’s debut LP. Track three is “Head and Heart” and is somewhat similar in signature to the opening track on this LP, “Ventura Highway”.
“California Revisited” follows and “Saturn Nights” is the album’s closer, which is very appropriate.