The United States of America (album)

The United States of America (album)

Infobox Album |
Name = The United States of America
Type = Album
Artist = The United States of America


Released = March 6, 1968
Recorded = December 7 to 23, 1967
Genre = Experimental rock, psychedelic rockHolm-Hudson, 2002. p.43]
Length = 37:07
Label = Columbia
Producer = David Rubinson
Reviews = show
1=Allmusic Rating|4.5|5
2=Review by Richie Unterberger
Publication date: Unknown
[http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:jvfqxqe5ldae External link] Cite web|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:jvfqxqe5ldae|title="The United States of America" album review|author=Unterberger, Richie|accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Allmusic]
show
1="Crawdaddy!"
2=Review by Benjamin Dominici
Publication date: Unknown
[http://crawdaddy.wolfgangsvault.com/Article.aspx?id=1952 External link] Cite web|url=http://crawdaddy.wolfgangsvault.com/Article.aspx?id=1952|title="The United States of America" Crate Digger|author=Dominici, Benjamin|accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Crawdaddy!]
show
1=Dusted Magazine
2=Review by Mark Hamilton
Publication date: August 26, 2004
[http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/1637 External link] Cite web|url=http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/1637|title=Dusted Reviews: The United States of America - The United States of America|author=Hamilton, Mark |accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Dusted Magazine]
show
1=Piero Scaruffi (8/10)
2=Review by Piero Scaruffi
Publication date: Unknown
[http://www.scaruffi.com/vol2/usa.html External link] Cite web|url=http://www.scaruffi.com/vol2/usa.html|title= The History of Rock Music. United States Of America: biography, discography, reviews, links|author=Scaruffi, Piero |accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Piero Scaruffi]
show
1=Pitchfork Media (8.9/10)
2=Review by Cameron Macdonald
Publication date: October 19, 2004
[http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/22893/United_States_of_America_United_States_of_America External link] Cite web|url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/22893/United_States_of_America_United_States_of_America|title= United States of America : Pitchfork|author=Macdonald, Cameron |accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Pitchfork Media]
show
1="Rolling Stone"
2=Review by Barret Hansen
Publication date: May 11, 1968
[http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/theunitedstatesofamerica/albums/album/103293/review/5943138/the_united_states_of_america?source=theunitedstatesofamerica_rssfeed External link] Cite web|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/theunitedstatesofamerica/albums/album/103293/review/5943138/the_united_states_of_america?source=theunitedstatesofamerica_rssfeed|title=The United States of America: The United States Of America : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone|author=Hansen, Barret|accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Rolling Stone]

Last album =

This album = "The United States of America"
(1968)
Next album =

Misc = Singles
Name =
The United States of America
Type = studio
single 1 = Hard Coming Love
single 1 date = 2004

"The United States of America" is a 1968 album by The United States of America. Produced by David Rubinson, it was released by Columbia Records in 1968. The album was the only release by The United States of America when they were still together and received positive reviews on its release, charting at 181 on the Billboard 200. The album has been re-issued several times and continues to receive critical acclaim decades after its original release.

Production

"The United States of America" was produced by David Rubinson, who also signed the group to Columbia Records. Rubinson knew members Joe Byrd and Dorothy Moskowitz previously.Holm-Hudson, 2002. p.49] Creating the electronic sounds on the album was difficult because of the technical limitations. Byrd recalled "the only available functioning keyable synthesizers were Robert Moog's at +$20,000. We were left with whatever sounds I could squeeze from three variable wave shape generators, modulating one another." The oscillators were built for the group by Richard Durrett. Electronic devices were also used live and on the album to process other instruments and Moskowitz's voice. This is used on "The American Metaphysical Circus" where towards the end of the song where the voice becomes so distorted it is unintelligible.Holm-Hudson, 2002. p.51]

tyle

Byrd was the group's leader. He stated his aesthetic aims for the band and album were to have an avant-garde political/musical rock group with the idea of combining Electronic sound (not electronic music), musical/political radicalism and Performance art.Holm-Hudson, 2002. p.48] During the 1960s, Byrd was drawn to the leftist Communist Party group, explaining that it was "the one group that had discipline, an agenda, and was willing to work within the existing institutions to educate and radicalize American society." The song "Love Song for the Dead Ché" reflects these ideas. Columbia Records originally wanted this title changed due to its political implications. Byrd suggested "Julius and Etherl Rosenberg" as a replacement title if the original title had not been taken.

The album is littered with references to Byrd's obsession with old-time American music such as the dixieland jazz intro on "I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife for You, Sugar".Holm-Hudson, 2002. p.53] "The American Metaphysical Circus" also starts out with no more then 5 layers of sound being heard in a collage. A calliope playing "National Emblem", a ragtime piano playing "At a Georgia Camp Meeting", two marching bands playing "Marching Through Georgia" and "The Red, White and Blue" switching between left and right channels. The other two tracks are of electronic sounds.

Lyrics

Dorothy Moskowitz and Joseph Byrd collaborated as lyricists on the album for most of the songs. In "Garden of Earthly Delights", Bogas wrote the lyrics for the first verse and chorus. Moskowitz came with the track's title and the other tuneful changes and accents. On "Coming Down", Moskowitz contributed to the melody line as well as writing about the second and third. On "Hard Coming Love", Byrd wrote the title and first verse, and Moskowitz contributed to what she referred to as the "lame doggerel that follows".Cite web|url=http://www.terrascope.co.uk/MyBackPages/United%20States%20of%20America.pdf|title=The United States of America - The Garden of Earthly Delights|author=Spozio, Iker |accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Ptolemiac Terrascope]

Release

Inter band arguments about the direction of the group between Byrd and the rest of his band mates led the band to split up within months of the album's release.Holm-Hudson, 2002. p.56] "The United States of America" was first released in 1968 on Columbia Records. The album spent nine weeks on the charts in the United States, peaking at number 181 on the Billboard album charts in May 1968. The album failed to chart in Britain. The album was reissued on compact disc by Columbia Records in 1992 with two bonus tracks.Cite web|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:d9fwxqlaldje|title="The United States of America" album review|author=Unterberger, Richie|accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Allmusic] In 1997, the album was re-issued in the United Kingdom on Edsel Records.Holm-Hudson, 2002. p.59] On July 13, 2004 Sundazed Records re-issued the album on vinyl and compact disc, with the CD version containing 10 bonus tracks.Cite web|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:ajftxqualdhe|title="The United States of America" album review|author=Unterberger, Richie|accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Allmusic] USA member Joseph Byrd claims to have little input to the Sundazed re-release of the album. Byrd claims he was "interested in doing notes, and I figured this was a chance to get my voice heard - Dorothy and Rubinson had both done extensive interviews referring to me in unpleasant fashion (as justification for their coup, I imagine). I asked for $300 and got it. I've written elsewhere to you that Sundazed took out all references they found controversial, including one about Bill Graham."Cite web|url=http://www.cloudsandclocks.net/interviews/Byrd_interview.html|title=An interview withJoseph Byrd|author=Colli, Beppe |accessdate=2008-05-09|publisher=Clouds and Clocks]

Reception

The album was originally released to minimal press. A review "Rolling Stone" was fairly mixed, it was praised for it's style by stating "The tunes are infectious, the harmonies adventurous yet eminently satisfying. And the lyrics (which Columbia has wisely printed on the jacket) are the best thing of all." as well as "this first album falls short of being really satisfying. Mainly I think it's because the strictly technical abilities of the U.S.A. are not quite on a level with their ideas. The voices are flat and uninteresting, showing little technical or interpretive power. The instruments perform their assigned tasks adroitly, but all too mechanically". Quote box
quote = "It wasn't half bad. Some of it was embarrassing but some of it really stood up over time. My favourite cut is "Where is Yesterday." It represents the best synthesis of our talents and if we were given the chance at a second album, I think we should have gone in this direction."
source = Dorothy Moskowitz, on the album in 2003
width = 40%
align = right
Modern reception of the album has been very positive. Richie Unterberger of Allmusic gave the album a rating of four and half stars out of five, and referred to the album as "was one of the most exciting and experimental psychedelic albums of the late '60s" and compared some of the bands more hard-edged material to early Pink Floyd and The Velvet Underground. Music webzine Pitchfork Media gave the album a high rating of 8.9 out of 10, and claimed that "USA's self-titled album still stands above the work of most of their Monterey-era, psych-rock peers". Dusted Magazine also praised the album on it's 2004 re-issue, stating "The most ambitious, idiosyncratic debut album of 2004 is 36 years old.". Negative points of the album were mentioned by Allmusic noting that "Occasionally things get too excessive and self-conscious, and the attempts at comedy are a bit flat, but otherwise this is a near classic." The Dusted Magazine review also noted this stating "The less successful tracks on the album are the ones that ditch subtlety for extremely strident attacks on bourgeois America." Pitchfork Media's only problem with the album was some of the dated electronic effects, suggesting that "some of the album's synthesizer works haven't aged well and are stigmatized by the "B-flick sound effects" tag that magnifies the wrinkles on so many electro-acoustic pieces from the analog years."

Track listing

tracklist
headline = Side one
all_writing =
all_lyrics =
all_music =
writing_credits =
lyrics_credits =
music_credits =
title1 = The American Metaphysical Circus
note1 = Joseph Byrd
length1 = 4:56
title2 = Hard Coming Love
note2 = Byrd, Dorothy Moskowitz
length2 = 4:41
title3 = Cloud Song
note3 = Byrd, Moskowitz
length3 = 3:18
title4 = The Garden of Earthly Delights
note4 = Byrd, Moskowitz
length4 = 2:39
title5 = I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife for You, Sugar
note5 = Byrd, Moskowitz
length5 = 3:51
tracklist
headline = Side two
title6 = Where Is Yesterday
note6 = Gordon Marron, Ed Bogas, Moskowitz
length6 = 3:08
title7 = Coming Down
note7 = Byrd, Moskowitz
length7 = 2:37
title8 = Love Song for the Dead Ché
note8 = Byrd
length8 = 3:25
title9 = Stranded in Time
note9 = Marron, Bogas
length9 = 1:49
title10 = The American Way of Love"
# "Metaphor for an Older Man" (Byrd)
# "California Good time Music" (Byrd)
# "Love Is All" (Byrd, Moskowitz, Rand Forbes, Craig Woodson, Marron)
note10 =
length10 = 6:38
tracklist
collapsed = yes
headline = 1992 re-issue
title11 = Osamu's Birthday
note11 = Byrd
length11 = 2:59
title12 = No Love to Give
note12 = Moskowitz
length12 = 2:36
tracklist
collapsed = yes
headline = 2004 re-issue
title11 = Osamu's Birthday
note11 = Byrd
length11 = 2:59
title12 = No Love to Give
note12 = Moskowitz
length12 = 2:36
title13 = I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife for You, Sugar
note13 = Byrd, Moskowitz
length13 = 3:45
title14 = You Can Never Come Down
note14 = Byrd
length14 = 2:32
title15 = Perry Pier
note15 = Moskowitz
length15 = 2:37
title16 = Tailor Man
note16 = Moskowitz
length16 = 3:06
title17 = Do You Follow Me
note17 = Kenneth Edwards
length17 = 2:34
title18 = The American Metaphysical Circus
note18 = Byrd
length18 = 4:01
title18 = Mouse (The Garden of Earthly Delights)
note18 = Byrd, Moskowitz
length18 = 2:39
title19 = Heresy (Coming Down)
note19 = Byrd, Moskowitz
length19 = 2:32

Personnel

The Band

*Joseph Byrd – electronic music, electric harpsichord, organ, calliope, piano
*Dorothy Moskowitz – lead vocals
*Gordon Marron – electric violin, ring modulator
*Rand Forbes – electric bass
*Craig Woodson – electric drums, percussion

Additional musicians

*Ed Bogas – occasional organ, piano, calliope

Technical staff

* Glen Kolotkin, Arthur Kendy – remixer
* Richard Durrett – instrument design engineer
* David Diller – engineer
* David Rubinson - producer

Release history

Charts

Notes

References

*cite book
last= Holm-Hudson
first= Kevin
coauthors=
title= Progressive Rock Reconsidered
publisher= Taylor & Francis
year= 2002
isbn= 0815337140


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