Gerry Beckley - lead vocals, guitar, piano; Dewey Bunnell - lead vocals, guitar; Michael Woods - guitar; Willie Leacox - drums; Brad Palmer - bass
Recorded on the same 1978 tour that resulted in the Live on the King Biscuit Flower Hour album (released in 1996), these tracks come from the first US tour America undertook as a duo. The previous year, founding member Dan Peek departed to pursue life as a born-again Christian. Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley opted to work as a two-man group, and these recordings are the result of their initial shows.
Included here, in this partial set, is a mix of classic America hits and the new original material the group was promoting. Over all, the slant is toward material that is less familiar to all but hard-core America fans. "Riverside," "Old Man Took," "Mad Dog," and "Another Try" sound fine, but lack the impact of hits like "I Need You," "Daisy Jane," and "Tin Man."
America's three founding members (Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek) first came together during the mid-1960s as teenagers attending Central High School in London, where their fathers, U.S. Air Force personnel, were stationed. They worked together in cover bands before forming the original trio in 1969. When a tape of theirs made it to Warner Brothers Records in Los Angeles in 1971, the group was immediately signed.
Indeed, America caught the music industry completely off-guard; both their first single and their debut album skyrocketed to the coveted number-one position on the charts. To this day, America remains the first band ever to begin their career with both a number-one single and album.
The early 1970s brought an astonishing run of platinum singles, albums, and sold-out tours as popular demand for the group skyrocketed. In 1974 the group teamed up with famed British producer George Martin. The collaboration lasted for six albums, and marked the only time Martin worked on a long-term basis with a specific act since his tenure with The Beatles.
By 1977, the band was beginning to run out of steam. Their popularity had begun to wane, and tension was forming within the group. Dan Peek had gone from living a lifestyle of excess to that of a born-again Christian, and it became increasingly difficult for him to maintain equal footing within the group. Peek departed, and Beckley and Bunnell were forced to carry on as a duo.
Beckley and Bunnell switched management, reorganized the band, and, in 1979, moved from Warner Bros. to Capitol Records. At Capitol they continued to churn out radio hits like "You Can Do Magic," and "The Border."
In 1985 their Capitol deal expired, and Beckley and Bunnell turned their attention exclusively to touring. They finally recorded new material for Rhino Records in the early 1990s to coincide with an anthology release entitled Encore. America continues to tour and record today. Their most recent LP, Here and Now, was released in 2007.