America Revisited - Part 4
by John Corbett
"A Very Shocking Period": 1977 to 1982
The audience present that evening in April 1977 at the Nassau Coliseum had no way of knowing that this would be one of the last concerts the original trio of America would ever perform. It was already known that the group's future was uncertain. Their relationship with Warner Bros. was coming to a close. Dan and Dewey were both reportedly considering solo projects, and Gerry Beckley was considering a collaboration with Van Dyke Parks. It came as something of a surprise, though, when, in May 1977, Dan Peek left America. What many people didn't realize is that personal problems had led Dan to rediscover his Christian faith. A few years later, Dan recounted the incident which turned things around for him in his personal testimony, made available courtesy of Steve Orchard's collection:
Somehow I couldn't live up to my part of the bargain with God [by becoming a famous Rock Singer]. I guess I was afraid I would lose my popularity if I began to speak out for the Lord. Instead I embarked on a journey down Sin's twisted path.
By 1977 America had won over 20 Gold and Platinum albums from around the world. We played to crowds of 100,000 people at stadiums and crowds of 20,000 people and more at concert halls around the world. We traveled the globe by private plane.
Why was I so miserable? One night while completely stoned I slipped and fell from a high cliff in front of my house at the beach in California. Or did I jump?
As I lay in the hospital recovering I began to survey my life. Where had I gone wrong[?] I was totally successful by every standard of the World yet I was desperately sad.
I knew my only hope was in Jesus. I bowed my head once more. I asked forgiveness for my sins and for my failure to live up to my promise to the Lord. I told Him that if He would have me back He could have me 100%. My life, my heart, my soul, my music, everything I had or would ever be I surrendered to Him for His glory and use.
Eight years after he left America, he explained what was going on at the time, unbeknownst to the Nassau audience:
It had all gotten to be too much for me... I really was overwhelmed by the things that happened to us. One day we're just sitting in a car rehearsing, totally unknown, and within a year we were a number one group. We had a number one single around the world and an album which then went to number one. Everything after that became platinum or gold, and we spent a great deal of time touring on the road. I think all those things put together, and the fact that I got involved in drugs and alcohol, which doesn't make you any happier or any better of a person; it really kind of deflates what you are and takes away from your abilities. You think at the time, "Oh, gee I'm really a much more creative person and maybe have a lot more stamina because I'm on this particular trip." The fact is those things are really pretty destructive and pretty debilitating. I just got to a point where I realized if I didn't jump off the merry-go-round that I wasn't really going to be around much longer, period... It was also something that was a matter of prayer. I really asked God to help me because I had some real problems, and I felt that at that point He really stepped in and began to give me some direction and some guidance and some help.
In 1998, Dewey gave his own angle on what happened:
It was a very, very tumultuous time, and Dan was going through a lot of personal things, and I'm not going to say drugs and alcohol and all that, because it's so clich‚. We were all very much in this turbulent period -- our success had happened so quickly and really all of the excesses of the seventies certainly were in there. Really Dan left more on his own in that he had gone through the fire, if you will, of this fame, fortune, and thing, and refound his religious roots, basically. We -- Gerry and I -- weren't aware that he was so committed to his Christian beliefs. He was a Southern Baptist, basically, from Missouri, and his family was very involved in their Christianity. That all came rushing back to him. It was a conflict, not because of the religious part, but because he couldn't square that with what we were doing on the road and all this rock and roll stuff. It was a mutual parting of the ways. We had this one meeting up at Gerry's house with Dan, and his father was there. We talked it out and he said he really needed to go back and find his faith again and write music and make music that made him feel better than what we were doing at the time. We wished him well and he's been happier for it. Everything really worked out for the best.
With Dan out of the picture, Dewey and Gerry decided not to replace him and continue on with the tour. They didn't know what to do with Dan's material, such as "Lonely People," "Don't Cross The River," and "Today's The Day," so they simply decided not to play his songs, leaving a gaping hole in the playlist. It did, though, enable Dewey and Gerry to bring back some of their own older tunes.
It was under these circumstances that the duo recorded their first live album at the Los Angeles Greek Theater on July 24, 1977. George Martin was once again involved in recording and producing the group's performance via a remote recording unit supplied by the Record Plant. Elmer Bernstein was in charge of conducting the backing orchestra, and as a result, this album would be something of a mixture of a live and studio recording.
The lineup was the same as it had been for the past year or so, with the notable exception of Dan. The recording naturally suffered as a result, as there was no substitute for his electric guitar work. Still, Jimmy Calire and Tom Walsh did what they could to spruce up the sound, with the most impressive results on the "Company"/"Hollywood" suite, with the combined sax and xylophone providing an appealing jazzy flavor. "Old Man Took" was played to a much faster tempo than the original studio version, and sounded somewhat rushed. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the album was George Martin's chance at long last to add orchestration to "A Horse With No Name." The lead-in flute and closing brass made this one of the more spectacular recordings of this song.
The album, which was eventually released in late 1977 under the simple title Live, marked something of a turning point for America. Besides being their first live album, it was their first as a duo, and their last for Warner Bros. That made for a somewhat awkward product, since the live album was in essence an occasion for retrospection, and not a particularly good time to introduce the new sound of the duo. Perhaps this, along with a lack of decent promotion, on top of the already waning interest before Dan's departure, explained why Live became the first America album to miss the top 100 album list, peaking only at number 129 in January 1978.
As the 1970s came to a close, the United States experienced a revolt against the decade of decadence and scandal. With the election of a practicing Southern Baptist to the White House in the person of Jimmy Carter in 1976, evangelical Americans became ever more vocal in American life, culminating in the founding of the Moral Majority by Jerry Falwell in 1979. It was into this environment that Dan Peek released his first solo album in 1978, All Things Are Possible, on Pat Boone's Lamb & Lion Records. While the album had an overt religious theme to it, the sound still bore an undeniable America stamp: short songs, clean harmony, and catchy songwriting. On top of that, Dewey and Gerry lent their voices to the track, "Love Was Just Another Word," which has the distinction of being the last recorded song featuring the original America trio. Interestingly, it wasn't the last time that the three sang together. In 1998, Dewey told Steve Orchard about the last time America performed as a trio:
One time shortly after [Dan] left... I think maybe two years later, or three years later, there was one time we were playing the Greek Theater in L.A., and we did invite him up [on stage] and we did "Lonely People" and "A Horse With No Name" I think. There wasn't even a mention in the newspaper or anything, so it wasn't like the whole world got to see this big reunion. That was the only other time Dan ever did anything with us again. And I don't even think he's been to a show since.
Dan explained why he kept such close ties to America as he was trying to launch his career as a Christian solo artist:
What America was was a part of what I was, and each of our inputs developed the overall sound. I feel I had a good deal to do with the sound, therefore what I do on my own, gosh, if for no other reason than the fact that I wanted to hear some more of those kinds of sounds. Not exactly the same thing -- because I felt like there had to be some changes -- I have to progress and grow as an artist... In fact, I suppose consciously I needed to make it sound a little bit like America just for continuity so people could take the step from that to Dan Peek, solo artist.
All Things Are Possible was a superb initial effort. Producer Chris Christian produced the right feel to bridge the gap between the old sound and the new message, and even provided backing vocals and banjo work on "Hometown." This wasn't just an obscure Christian album; Dan had plenty of high-powered help in recording the album. Hal Blaine returned to help out on drums. Talented sessionists such as Steve Porcaro (who had just helped form Toto) and Jai Winding joined on keyboards. Michael Omartian, who would later produce Christopher Cross, and Jay Graydon, who has worked with everyone from Al Jarreau to the Manhattan Transfer, also pitched in.
As a Christian album, All Things Are Possible did phenomenally well, with the pleasant title track topping the Christian charts and continuing to sell well into 1980. What was more surprising was the song's crossover success. "All Things Are Possible" remained on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts for 34 weeks, and then even made an appearance in the Hot 100 singles, peaking at number 78 in October 1979.
In the meantime, Gerry and Dewey were busy putting America back on track. Throughout 1977 and '78, America continued with its hectic touring schedule as they worked to secure a new record deal. In the meantime, they settled into getting the duo act perfected. Consider this review of a March 1978 concert at Shea's Theater in Buffalo:
No one screamed. No one fainted. No one was driven into a frenzy. There were no smoke bombs and no piercing lasers. And no punks. We even waited for The Sandman to arrive before standing up and cheering. But the few thousand who came looking for America Monday evening found at least a slice of California floating in the Victorian splendor of Shea's Buffalo Theater.
Even as [Michael Martin] Murphey [the opening act] bounced his banjo through the lively "Carolina in the Pines," America loomed: behind him in the form of two elaborate rings of drums, cymbals and other more exotic implements of percussion; and beside him, where real potted plants rested off-stage waiting to wheel in a tropical "California" atmosphere for the main act.
Beckley and Bunnell clearly take center stage with believable work on acoustic and twelve-string guitars and appealing vocals. Beckley's voice is the more intriguing of the two and is at its best on the softer, piano-inspired ballads. Example: "Give It Another Try" my favorite of the night. Bunnell takes over on the up tempo selections like "Hollywood," including a few rather mundane sounding previews from an as yet untitled new album. Count on it starting with an "H" though.
America gained quite a bit of exposure for a band which had lost a founding member and was without a record deal. During 1978, America was featured on the King Biscuit Flower Hour. Crowds continued to flock to their concerts as they had in the past. On July 3, they played at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. Here is Billboard's review of that show:
America performed 21 songs from its eight WB albums in a 100-minute set here July 3, the first of two nights in a soldout Independence Day booking.
It was the next to the last stop of America's latest cross-country tour and Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell have had lots of time to make necessary adjustments to cover the departure of Dan Peek, the third original member of the trio, a year ago.
The duo's solution to the problem of how to handle Peek's best-known material was simply to delete it from its repertoire. All of America's many top 50 hits were represented except the four Peek wrote: "Don't Cross The River," "Lonely People," "Woman Tonight," and "Today's The Day."
Beckley is clearly the better singer of the two remaining members. His fluid, clear vocals graced his compositions "I Need You" (which he said was the first song he ever wrote), "Muskrat Love," "Daisy Jane" and "Sister Golden Hair," the closer.
Bunnell's vocals were somewhat more ragged, but still managed to deliver the necessary punch to his songs "Tin Man," "Sandman," and "Riverside," the latter which opened the set. He also provided a welcome sense of humor, introducing "Ventura Highway," he joked sarcastically, "We made a lot of money off this song," and in front of the encore, "A Horse With No Name," he noted wryly, "Well it's time to drag out the nag, I guess."
The duo was backed by a five-man band which featured blowing sax and alternately tropical and jazzy vibes. A number of the songs in the last half of the set sported expanded, complex arrangements; an ear-pleasing development at first which unfortunately wore thin as one song after another built to an all-out rocking finish. Also the overuse of sound effects--bird sounds and the like--taxed their appeal.
Several of the warmly nostalgic numbers reflected the influence of producer George Martin, especially "Daisy Jane," with its poignant cello pop sound. One song offered from the duo's upcoming album, "Norman I Miss Your Smile," [was] dedicated to Norman Bel Geddes, a designer of the '20s and '30s.
"Norman," as the song is commonly referred to, is one of America's lost treasures, as the song was part of the regular set in 1978, but never made it on to any album, live or studio. Here is further reference to it in a contemporary interview with Gerry:
On a recent visit Gerry sits at the piano to play "Norman," a new song which will probably be on America's next record. It is a gentle, sensitive song, a tribute really to a pioneering designer who is today all but forgotten; his name was Norman Bel Geddes and in the twenties and thirties he explored the vast, untapped potential for innovative design ideas in modern industrial construction and production; his vision led him to the practical and aesthetic advances of streamlining in cars, trains, and ships, and his designs were always spectacular. Gerry's voice echoes high and clear around the room:"I'd sail a ship round the ocean today with your name on it, And I've never sailed a ship before, Norman... How can people forget, I won't let them, Norman..."
Eventually, America was able to land a multi-album deal with Capitol Records, the label which launched the Beatles, and set out to record their first studio album without Dan, once again under George's guidance. Taking Dan's place on lead guitar was Michael Woods, previously the group's guitar tech. Otherwise, the remainder of the personnel from the Harbor LP was intact: Dewey and Gerry with vocals, guitars, and keyboards, David Dickey on bass, Willie Leacox on drums, Jim Calire on keyboards and sax, and Tom Walsh on percussion. For recording the album, the group worked variously in Los Angeles and at Martin's studios in Montserrat in the West Indes during March and April of 1979.
For the new album, America went for a more pop-oriented and electric sound than in previous albums. Tracks like "All Around" and "And Forever" employed the usual care with which Dewey, Gerry, and George took toward harmony and song production, and added a trendy disco-flavored rhythm. "All My Life" took a more traditional Martin approach to production, with a rich orchestral backing to a beautiful song about love and commitment. Over time, this song has become an essential part of the wedding soundtrack for many America fans, and it still receives occasional play in concert. Other songs were more pop-rock directed, such as "Tall Treasures," "Foolin'" (co-written by Gerry and South African-born drummer Ricky Fataar), and "No Fortune." Dewey and Gerry had opportunities to record their own unique compositions. "1960" was a very personal song about how far Gerry had come and yet how much things had stayed the same. Dewey's "All Night" was a dark and moody rocker with rough vocals and a scorching electric guitar solo by Woods.
Unlike the reviewer's prediction, America decided to break with tradition and give the new album a name which didn't start with the letter "H." The name it was given, Silent Letter, was a less-than-subtle attempt at poking fun at the whole tradition and at the same time showing their resolve to take a new direction.
Before the album was even completed, America was able to manage a brief return to the pop charts with a cover of the Mama's & the Papa's "California Dreamin'" for the movie of the same name. The single, released by American International, charted for a month, peaking at number 56 in April 1979, their first hit song in over two years. The song fit neatly into America's arsenal of California songs, and would continue to be a concert favorite for years to come.
The moderate success of "California Dreamin'" at least let people know that America was alive and well and ready for business. This should have helped the first single from Silent Letter, "Only Game In Town," which featured a driving beat, powerful vocals, and a brassy punch. The song, which was penned by songwriters Casey Kelly, Julie Didier, and Lewis Anderson, represented America's growing reliance on outside material. The song bubbled under at number 107 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1979, but was unable to crack the Hot 100. Further attempts at hit singles, such as "All My Life" and "All Around," proved fruitless as well, and like Harbor, Silent Letter fell short of expectations without a hit single. The album peaked at a mere number 110 in July 1979, and was off the charts completely after only six weeks. Over a decade later, Dewey explained to Steve Orchard how he felt when Silent Letter flopped:
I had a song on Silent Letter called "And Forever" that I always thought would have been a good song [for a hit]. You're talking about a period that was very shocking to me, too. I thought the caliber, the quality, of the music was right up there, and we were trying specifically for singles at that point. Things weren't happening just by virtue of momentum anymore. There was another song called "Only Game In Town" that I thought had single written all over it. But you see these are great examples -- it was a learning experience to see that by the same token that a song like "A Horse With No Name," which didn't fit any of the qualities needed for a hit single, [was a hit], ...these other songs that should have easily been programmable and easily have been sold, weren't.
In 1998 Dewey reflected back on the commercial failure of Silent Letter and what the band was faced with:
We called that record, "Silent Record," by the way. It was hardly heard. I thought it was a good album... It was a time of upheaval. Dan left; we were moving to Capitol Records... It was a time of transition. The music industry itself was changing at that point. We were at the end of the '70s heading into the '80s. The New Wave movement was in; we were out. We went through one of those peaks and valleys of any career... But Gerry and I were definitely dedicated to sticking it out. This is all we knew, or all we still know, in terms of a business and a job and an activity that we love... As long as we were getting bookings, even if the records weren't selling, we thought we could make a go of it.
Faced with declining record sales, Dewey and Gerry were pressured into considering a change in their sound or image to keep up with current trends. New Wave bands and disco divas were hot, and Country stars like Kenny Rogers and Charlie Daniels were having enormous success on the pop charts. As Dewey tells it, there was little question of keeping up with fads:
There were certainly suggestions about going Country. The band has always lent itself to that sort of flavor. We could never have done anything disco-oriented, or something New Wave or punk, without alienating our core group of fans. But we just decided, not really consciously, to stay on the path we're on, which is the singer-songwriter route. We're not here to nurture our images, or to get big hair and wear leather.
As America entered 1980, they decided that they wanted to make some changes. For starters, they elected not to use George Martin's services as a producer. According to Dewey, it was a mutual agreement:
It just kind of came to a natural kind of end. George called us; I think we would have been going into the seventh project together. And he said, "Lads are you sure now that you want me again?" It was one of those sorts of things. And we said, "Well, George, I don't know, maybe we could do something else. We can leave this project and come back another time." We just never did, you know.
Instead of Martin, Dewey and Gerry elected to work with two producers, Matthew McCauley and Fred Mollin, who had scored previously with Dan Hill's 1978 hit, "Sometimes When We Touch." Studio musicians were brought in to give the new recordings a different feel. Veteran bass player Leland Sklar, who has worked with artists ranging from the Doors to Phil Collins, took Dickey's place, while Mike Baird was brought in for Leacox on drums. Warren Zevon cohort Waddy Wachtel, veteran studio musician Dean Parks, and Toto player Steve Lukather handled guitars. Noted studio veterans James Newton Howard and Jai Winding participated on keyboards. Backing on vocals were Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles (who scored big with that year's "I Can't Tell You Why"), J.D. Souther (coming off of his big hit, "You're Only Lonely"), and future Mr. Mister lead Richard Page. In one studio, America effectively gathered a sizable portion of the entire flourishing West Coast music scene.
The results of this new lineup were not just refreshing, they were spectacular. Never before -- and never since -- has an America album fully captured the live flavor which has made America concerts so popular over the decades. Gone were the violins and brass that came with any Martin project; in their place were intricate guitar and keyboard riffs which kept pace with the often uptempo beat, the same blending of instruments that America has used for years in their shows. As a result, the sound translates very well to stage. It is a shame that none of the songs from this album have made it into recent America playlists.
The album, called Alibi, was so uniformly excellent that America and the Capitol execs got into a dispute over which side of the record should be side one. Eventually, they came to an unusual agreement -- there would be no numbered sides. Instead, the Alibi LP featured an "Our Side" and a "Their Side." Among the notable songs are "Catch That Train," an acoustic song with vivid lyrics of travel and a sparkling harmonica outing by Norton Buffalo; "Coastline," a soothing song written by Gerry which bore resemblances to another song from that same time period, Christopher Cross's "Sailing"; "Hangover," an amusing Dewey composition about a man "whose liver is overfed"; and "One In A Million," a beautiful ballad by Gerry about thoughts of love inspired by a beautiful twilight.
Alibi, released in August 1980, featured a severed doll's head on the cover, a sharp deviation from the smiling faces of the members of America on previous covers. Gerry explained in 1980 how this came about:
Everybody knows what we look like by now, so we wanted something different this time. We went through Henry Diltz's collection of weird photos in Los Angeles. He's got so many of them, it was hard to decide, but we liked this one. Except I don't know what it means, either. We leave it up to everyone else to figure out what it means.
"You Could've Been The One" was chosen as the album's first single. It was a straightforward pop song written by Sue Sheridan and John Batdorf, one half of the short-lived '70s group Batdorf & Rodney. The song could've been a hit, but instead it failed to make headway, largely due to a lack of promotion.
Yet, America was finding commercial successes in unusual places. "Right Back To Me," an incredibly catchy number written by Gerry, actually became a hit in Mexico. They were forced to learn how to play it in concert when a tour took them south of the border in the fall of 1980. An even bigger success story was the first cut on the album, the superb "Survival," which Gerry still considers one of his best songs since "Sister Golden Hair." The song was released in Italy and shot all the way up to the top of the charts. Since then, America has been a very welcome guest on a frequent basis in that Mediterranean country.
Back home in the States, however, America had trouble finding an audience. Alibi's chart performance was short-lived, peaking at number 142 in September 1980 and remaining on the charts for just over a month in all. There were many explanations why America wasn't succeeding with domestic audiences. Some felt their sound was out of style, but disco had fallen by the wayside under the weight of the "Disco Sucks" movement, and West Coast pop was finding quite a few fans. There seemed to be two plausible reasons. The first was that America simply wasn't being supported properly by Capitol Records. The other was put forth by Dan in 1985:
The fact is that everywhere I go, in almost every interview that I [have done] since I left America, people think that we broke up completely. That really hurt the band, because they tried to continue as America... So people weren't really listening for new America [songs].
Dewey and Gerry continued to soldier on, appearing on whatever shows they could to remind people that America was indeed still around. In fact, their very staying power was becoming a source of interest. They continued to appear on TV and radio shows and maintain a very busy touring schedule. On an early 1981 appearance on the Tom Snyder Show, Dewey and Gerry took a refreshing look at their career:
Tom: What was it like with the instant stardom?... When you finally formed the band... and returned to this country with a great big hit song, that's got to be heady wine for teenage guys, huh?
Gerry: We expected it to happen. I think that is surprising only in that it's not until you have a few failures, I suppose, in a career, that you start to think, "Oh," and you start to appreciate the success. But when we did our first album and single, we thought that sounded great, you know, that's going to go right up to the top of the charts, and it did. It went right up there. And we thought well, that's what's supposed to happen.
Dewey: And we've been arrogant jerks ever since. [Audience laughter.]
Tom: Well have things happened along the way to sort of temper your arrogance a little bit?
Dewey and Gerry: When record sales go down. [More laughter.]
By early 1981, Dewey and Gerry were in the early stages of writing songs for their next album, which they called Two Car Garage. But before it could be recorded, Dewey and Gerry decided to take on a heavy concert schedule, both in the States and abroad. On July 5, 1981, America received a good deal of exposure when they were included in a nationwide telecast of the Beach Boys' twentieth anniversary celebration, hosted by legendary DJ Wolfman Jack, in front of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Also included were Three Dog Night, Jan and Dean, and John Sebastian.
In November 1981, America became embroiled in an international controversy. The problem began when the United Nations declared a "cultural boycott" against South Africa, which was becoming increasingly isolated because of its odious apartheid policies of violently separating the races in favor of white domination over the black majority. Nonetheless, America went ahead with a 32-date tour of the nation in November, partly due to the fact that America manager Jim Morey had signed the contracts before the boycott had been declared. "We go where the money is, and the money was very good," said Morey. "We are very much against the apartheid policies, but even artists who don't go down there are selling records there. We felt that by not going, we weren't accomplishing anything." Beckley added:
I don't see how sealing it off would be anything more than sweeping dust under the carpet. We like to think our songs and our way of life -- the fact that we're Americans having a good time -- might give them hope that there is an outside world where this stuff doesn't happen.
Although America wasn't the only act breaking the boycott -- the Beach Boys, Curtis Mayfield, the O'Jays, Frank Sinatra, Tina Turner, and the Village People did as well -- they received more than their fair share of negative publicity, despite playing a benefit concert in Port Elizabeth for TEACH, an organization which worked to build schools in black communities in South Africa. Still, the negative publicity stuck in some corners of the entertainment industry, which as a whole virulently opposed apartheid, and for several years after the tour they gained the undeserved political label of being insensitive to the plight of black South Africans.
The early 1980s witnessed a revolution in music as hot New Wave acts replete with the latest synthesizers and flamboyant hair styles began to invade the pop charts. But the early '80s also saw major changes in how music reached the public. The 8-track tape, a medium never known for its quality or reliability, had fallen by the wayside, and even the venerable vinyl record was being surpassed by the cassette tape in sales. More and more, music was being seen as well as heard. In 1981, MTV brought 24-hour-a-day music videos to the growing number of homes carrying cable television. With the advent of VHS and Beta VCRs, music videos and filmed concerts were sold for home viewing. Another new medium, the video laserdisc, also competed for this market. In 1981, Live In Central Park, a 1979 America concert filmed by Peter Clifton in New York's Central Park, was released solely on the laserdisc format by the Pioneer label. The concert was filmed at the time Silent Letter was released, and three songs from that album were performed in the concert, including "Only Game In Town." The rest of the laserdisc is comprised of Dewey and Gerry's big Warner hits and a few choice album tracks, such as "Here," "Hollywood," and "Sandman." The laserdisc cover also promised "fantastic conceptual sequences" for "incredible visual excitement," although this added up to little more than scenes of the band trekking through the desert, Dewey and Gerry lip-synching to "Here" in a recording studio, prostitutes on Sunset Boulevard, and Dewey and Gerry racing cars. Still, it was entertaining fare nonetheless. The closing credits include reference to "California Dreamin'," which unfortunately was cut out of the laserdisc release. Also, for some reason "A Horse With No Name" was edited shorter.
In 1982, America was invited by Gerry and Dewey's friend, the legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb, to contribute music to his soundtrack for the animated film, "The Last Unicorn," after having performed on his album, Angel Heart, from the same year. What resulted was probably one of America's most endearing performances. The group played on several songs, with Gerry singing the title track and "In The Sea," and Dewey providing vocals on "Man's Road." The soft sound of the album was something of a contrast to America's more middle-of-the-road pop rock sound of recent years, yet fit in perfectly with their harmonic and melodic sensibilities. Said Dewey:
I am proud of [the work on that soundtrack]. It was Jimmy Webb who wrote all the music, the soundtrack and the songs, and he asked us to sing them. And we were very inspired by Jimmy's work, always have been.