America

A View from the Ground

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The claim to fame for America's 1982 album, View From the Ground, is that it yielded the soft rock duo's last Top Ten hit, "You Can Do Magic." Vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Gerry Beckley and vocalist/guitarist Dewey Bunnell scored big with this infectious, hook-riddled single. It was written and produced by Argent guitarist and solo artist Russ Ballard, who is most famous for penning songs that others have hit with. View From the Ground is an exceptionally slick-sounding yet pedestrian album overall, despite -- or because of -- the famous hired guns and anonymous session pros involved. In addition to Beckley, Bunnell, and Ballard, Blood, Sweat & Tears veteran Bobby Colomby produced a couple of tracks. Toto is represented by guitarist Steve Lukather, bass guitarist Mike Porcaro, and drummer Jeff Porcaro. Backing vocalists include the Beach Boys' Carl Wilson, Christopher Cross, and the Eagles' Timothy B. Schmit. Actor/musician Bill Mumy contributes guitar work and co-wrote a few tunes, including the brightly upbeat "Never Be Lonely." "Desperate Love" is frantically melodic, even edgy -- for America, that is; the flashes of biting guitar that pepper this song and other portions of View From the Ground probably all emanate from Lukather. "Right Before Your Eyes" is a pop ballad that just missed the Top 40. The best way to experience America is through its singles, which means greatest-hits albums are the answer. Although View From the Ground was reissued on CD by One Way, go for one of the two readily available collections with "You Can Do Magic": 1991's Encore: More Greatest Hits or 2001's The Complete Greatest Hits.

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