Ambrosia

Ambrosia is an American rock band that released the 1975–76 20th Century albums Ambrosia and Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled, followed by the 1978–82 Warner albums Life Beyond L.A., One Eighty, and Road Island.

Their style evolved from symphonic art-rock to West Coast blue-eyed soul. Ambrosia’s chart hits include “Holdin’ on to Yesterday,” and the soft-rock evergreens “How Much I Feel,” “Biggest Part of Me” and “You’re the Only Woman.”

Members: Joe Puerta (vocals, bass, guitar), Burleigh Drummond (drums, vocals), David Pack (vocals, guitar, keyboards, 1970-82), Christopher North (keyboards, vocals), Royce Jones (vocals, percussion, 1978-82), David Lewis (keyboards, 1978-82), Cliff Woolley (guitar, harmonica, vocals, 1980), Bruce Hornsby (keyboards, 1982)


Background

Ambrosia formed in 1970 in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County, Calif. The call was initiated by drummer/percussionist Burleigh Drummond (b. 1951, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.), who joined a $5 musician’s contact services that, within a week, summoned singer/guitarist David Pack (b. 1952, Huntington Park, Calif.), bassist Joe Puerta (b. 1951, Lomita, Calif.), and keyboardist Christopher North (b. 1951, San Francisco).

Drummond’s interest in percussion stemmed from an early childhood experience at his father’s military base in Ankara, Turkey, where young Burleigh absorbed the sight and sound of manual copper-plate production, a process he’d later describe as “spinning and hammering in sublime synchronicity.” (Hernandez) As a teenager, he filtered through several garage bands before joining the contact service.

North’s background traces to the 1960s San Pedro garage-rock scene, where he played in The Proones, The Livin End, Thee Exceptions, and the more psych-tinged Blue Toad Flax with musician Tom Trefethen, who’d later play a technical role in Ambrosia’s recordings.

They initially wanted to name their band Ambergris Might, but soon learned about the brass-rock ensemble named Ambergris. Searching adjacent words in the dictionary, they picked Ambrosia because its meaning (the food or drink of the Greek) suited their musical vision.

The four members had mutual roots in California harmony pop (The Beach Boys) and British Invasion rock (namely The Beatles). During their later teens, the spectrum harmonies of Crosby Stills & Nash and the lavish epicism of King Crimson advanced their concepts of vocal and musical arrangements.

After a year in rehearsals, a soundman friend of Ambrosia picked them to test the newly installed sound system at the Hollywood Bowl. Their test performance floored the head engineer, who introduced them to Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta, who featured Ambrosia in the All-American Dream Concert.

After a no-go audition for Herb Alpert of A&M Records, Ambrosia signed to 20th Century Records, which released their first two albums.


Ambrosia

Ambrosia released their self-titled debut album in February 1975 on 20th Century.

A1. “Nice, Nice, Very Nice” (5:55)
A2. “Time Waits for No One” (4:53)
A3. “Holdin’ On to Yesterday” (4:19)
A4. “World Leave Me Alone” (3:18)
B1. “Make Us All Aware” (4:29)
B2. “Lover Arrive” (3:11)
B3. “Mama Frog” (6:05)
B4. “Drink of Water” (6:29)

Recorded 1974 – Studio Mama Jo’s, North Hollywood
Freddie Piro — engineer
Alan Parsons — engineer, co-producer

Joe Puerta — bass guitar, lead vocals, arranger, orchestration
David Pack — guitar, lead vocals, arranger, orchestrion, keyboards
Christopher North — keyboards, vocals, arranger, orchestration
Burleigh Drummond — percussion, bassoon, vocals, arranger, orchestration


Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled

Ambrosia released their second album, Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled, on September 11, 1976, on 20th Century.

A1. “And…” (0:47)
A2. “Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled” (4:09)
A3. “Cowboy Star” (6:20)
A4. “Runnin’ Away” (3:27)
A5. “Harvey” (1:27)
A6. “I Wanna Know” (5:58)
B1. “The Brunt” (5:26)
B2. “Danse With Me George (Chopin’s Plea)” (7:47)
B3. “Can’t Let a Woman” (4:18)
B4. “We Need You Too” (5:31)

Recorded 1976 – Studio Mama Jo’s (North Hollywood), Abbey Road (London)
Alan Parsons – production
Andrew Powell – orchestration (A3, B2, B4)

Burleigh Drummond – drums, percussion, bassoon
David Pack – guitar, strings, vocals
Christopher North – keyboards, vocals
Joe Puerta – bass, Moog, vocals

Alfred Ladzekpo, Kobla Ladzekpo, Cal Arts African Ensemble
Ian Underwood – saxophone
Daniel Kobialka – violin
Ruth Underwood – marimba


Life Beyond L.A.

Ambrosia released their third album, Life Beyond L.A., on August 12, 1978, on Warner Bros.

A1. “Life Beyond L.A.” (4:47)
A2. “Art Beware” (2:15)
A3. “Apothecary” (4:53)
A4. “If Heaven Could Find Me” (4:29)
A5. “How Much I Feel” (4:44)
B1. “Dancin’ by Myself” (4:42)
B2. “Angola” (3:52)
B3. “Heart to Heart” (2:49)
B4. “Not as You Were” (3:52)
B5. “Ready for Camarillo” (4:55)

Recorded 1977-1978
Studio — Mama Jo’s (North Hollywood)
Freddie Piro — producer
Ambrosia — producer, arranger, orchestration
Tom Trefethen — engineer, mixing
Stewart Whitmore — engineer, mixing assistant
Jimmie Haskell — string arrangements

Joe Puerta — lead vocals, bass guitar, guitar, songwriter
David Pack — lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards, string arrangements, songwriter
Burleigh Drummond — drums, percussion, vocals, songwriter

Brother Christopher North — piano, organ
Joe Sample — piano
David Cutler Lewis — piano, Rhodes, Clavinet
Cliff Woolley — harmonica
Marty Krystall — saxophone
Daniel Kobialka — violin

Ed Caraeff — photography, design
Mike Manoogian — logo designer


One Eighty

Ambrosia released their fourth album, One Eighty, on April 12, 1980, on Warner Bros.

A1. “Ready” (4:25)
A2. “Shape I’m In” (3:29)
A3. “Kamikaze” (4:01)
A4. “You’re the Only Woman” (4:20)
A5. “Rock n’ a Hard Place” (3:59)
B1. “Livin’ On My Own” (4:41)
B2. “Cryin’ In the Rain” (4:37)
B3. “No Big Deal” (4:25)
B4. “Biggest Part of Me” (5:26)

Sessions 1979–1980
Location Recording (Burbank)
Mama Jo’s (North Hollywood)
Monterey Sound (Glendale)
Warner Bros. (Los Angeles)
Sound City (Van Nuys)
Engineer, Mixed By – Michael Verdick
Producer – Ambrosia, Freddie Piro

Bass Guitar, Vocals – Joe Puerta
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Burleigh Drummond
Electric Piano, Synthesizer – David Cutler Lewis
Guitar, Vocals – David Pack
Organ, Chamberlin, Clavinet, Synthesizer – Christopher North
Vocals, Percussion – Royce Jones

Design – Glen Christensen
Photography By – Norman Seeff


Road Island

Ambrosia released their fifth album, Road Island, on May 3, 1982, on Warner Bros.

A1. “For Openers (Welcome Home)” (5:35)
A2. “Still Not Satisfied” (3:59)
A3. “Kid No More” (2:59)
A4. “Feelin’ Alive Again” (5:49)
B1. “How Can You Love Me” (4:05)
B2. “Fool Like Me” (4:35)
B3. “Ice Age” (7:07)
B4. “Endings” (5:13)

Audio International Studios, London
Konk Studios, London
Davlen Sound Studios, LA
Producers Workshop, LA

James Guthrie — producer
Doug Sax — mastering

David Pack — guitar, vocals, keyboard, string arrangements
Joe Puerta — bass, vocals, acoustic guitar
Burleigh Drummond — drums, percussion, backing vocals
Christopher North — organ, Clavinet
David Cutter Lewis — keyboards, synthesiser

Royce Jones — backing vocals
Jim Horn — saxophone
Jimmie Haskell — string arrangements, horn arrangements
Andrew Powell — string arrangements

Christine Sauers — art direction
Ralph Steadman — cover art


Discography:


Sources:

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