Ambrosia / Ambrosia – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when youTurn Up Your Volume.

Here’s another INSANELY GOOD pressing of my all-time favorite album, which is every bit as good sonically as it is musically! Side two in particular (A+++, As Good As It Gets!) has DEMO DISC quality sound with the kind of SONIC ENERGY that not one out of a hundred titles can lay claim to.

Put this one up against your best Dark Side. Unless you bought a High Dollar DSOTM from us, I’d say there is little chance this album won’t decimate it. (We talk about how similiar the recordings are below.)

Side two has everything you could ask for from this music: tubey magical mids; richness and fullness; big punchy drums; delicate, breathy vocals; startling immediacy; huge energy; top-notch transparency and impressive clarity. And that’s just for starters!

Side one is also very good but doesn’t fully extend up top or down low. I doubt you’ll even notice what’s missing until side two shows you the light!

There is no question that this band, their producers and their engineers sweated every detail of this remarkable recording. They went the distance. In the end they brought in Alan Parsons to mix it, and Doug Sax to master it. The result is a masterpiece, an album that stands above all others. It’s not prog. It’s not pop. It’s not rock. It’s Ambrosia — the food of the gods.

The one album that I would say it most resembles is Dark Side of the Moon. (Note the Parsons connection.) Like DSOTM, Ambrosia is neither Pop nor Prog but a wonderful mix of both and more.

Perhaps hearing Dark Side was what made you realize how good a record could sound. Looking back on it over the last thirty years, it’s clear to me now that this album, along with a handful of others, is one of the surest reasons I became an audiophile, and managed to stick with it for so long. What could be better than hearing music like this sound so good?

Review

Ambrosia Review by Donald Guarisco

Although they would become better known for smooth AOR ballads like “How Much I Feel,” Ambrosia first made their name with this album of progressive rock with a pop music twist. Its songs skillfully blend strong melodic hooks and smooth vocal harmonies with music of an almost symphonic density. Good examples of this crossbreeding are “Drink of Water,” which sounds like the Beach Boys tackling a Pink Floyd space rock epic, and “Nice, Nice, Very Nice,” which utilizes a combination of stately close-harmony vocals and dynamic instrumental breaks to put forth a clever lyric derived from a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

The complexity of the music is further highlighted by its crystal-clear sonic landscape, mixed by Alan Parsons, which highlights unique touches like the use of a Russian balalaika ensemble and 300-year-old Javanese gongs on “Time Waits for No One.” Despite this prog rock ambitiousness, the group is smart enough to avoid letting their instrumental chops take precedence over their music’s melodic content: They keep their songs succinct and punchy (nothing extends over six-and-a-half minutes) and they infuse tunes like “Lover Arrive” and the radio favorite “Holdin’ on to Yesterday” with a delicate sense of pop songcraft that makes the group’s cinematic sound easy for listeners to assimilate.

The end result is an album that is intricate enough to please prog rock addicts but catchy enough to win over a few pop fans in the process. Though Ambrosia would go on to score bigger hits later in their career, this is definitely their most cohesive and inspired album.