America

Alibi

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George Martin stopped working America as the '70s became the '80s. Truth be told, it probably wasn't that painful of a departure. The time had come to part ways with Martin -- not only had they spent a decade with the celebrity producer, they were moving toward a slick, radio-ready adult contemporary direction that was entirely too calculated for Martin. So, they split, and Sir George effectively went into retirement while America worked with Matthew McCauley and Fred Mollin for 1980's Alibi. Essentially, the album picks up where Silent Letter left off, meaning that it's a set of pleasant soft pop, but it's slicker and slighter than its predecessor. That's not to say that it's without moments; like its predecessor, Alibi opens strongly with a pair of winners ("Survival," "Might Be Your Love"), and there are moments (such as "You Could've Been the One" or "Right Back to Me," which has a nice, bouncy chorus) that deliver later in the album. Still, it meanders fast and it meanders far, even into such ridiculous territory as the faux hard rock (in the sense that the Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane" is hard rock) of "Hangover," whose lyrics are at least worth a chuckle or two. Ultimately, Alibi suffers from not only its uneven material, but from the production, which is nowhere near as invitingly lush as Silent Letter. Nevertheless, McCauley and Mollin's production does sound exactly like MOR radio in 1980, and fans of that era may find this to be an enjoyable artifact, even with its flaws. Nevertheless, Alibi doesn't qualify as one of America's better latter-day efforts (even though it's certainly not one of their worst). They did this sound better on the subsequent View From the Ground.

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