Coming after two heavily prog influenced albums, this was the release that put Ambrosia firmly on the path toward AOR and mainstream success. Already evident in song titles like “How much I feel” or “Dancin’ by myself” it is clear that the bands two dominant songwriters, Pack and Puerta, had trimmed their song structures to fit the radio format.
This does not make this a weak album, however. The orchestral flourishes and prominent synth solos are replaced by a smooth, west coast soul influence that especially comes through on the hit single “How much I feel”. The other notable ballad on the album is “Heart to Heart”, a beautifully penned, simple love song with a soaring middle section. Probably the bands best song not to become a hit.
More uptempo rockers are found in “If heaven could find me” and the even slicker “Not as you were”. The advent of AOR virtually trumpets from these numbers.
The prog influence has not wholly been discarded however. Oddly enough, the three lead off tracks exhibit this the most. “Art Beware” features odd time signatures, key changes and all the grand presentation of prog pop. The grim lyrics of “Apothecary” deal with drug abuse and are perfectly complimented by brooding, almost film-noir piano lines.
The only song sticking out like a sore thumb is “Angola”. A great and very cynical and angry song about poverty in the third world and ignorance in the west, this message is also transported in the percussive and acoustic nature of the song. A welcome breather from the otherwise so slick production for those who need some ragged edges on their rock.
Overall this is Ambrosia’s finest album from the post-prog period. The follow up, One Eighty, would shed even more of the prog guise while featuring two huge hit singles.
Anyone interested in AOR with great, inventive songwriting and immaculate production values should feel right at home here. And even a prog fan who stumbles in will probably not be turned off immediately and might find the album grow with each revisitation. Recommended.