"This was the pinnacle of AMC's career, and perhaps Mark Eitzel's writing. Each great band has an album where they are on top form. Everything comes together. Eitzel's songs can be rambling and abstract, self consciously arty and sometimes gruelling, but on this album each song is concise, melodious and framed by a fluid, shimmering but punchy production. Beauty and subtlety abounds in the music, with Vudi's guitar reigned in from the noisy slabs of Engine. Here, on Blue and Grey shirt and Western Sky we have atmospheric and tuneful fills with the accent on 'less is more'. In reviews of the time, much was made of the use of pedal steel, but this was an inspired choice. How many alt-country bands now use pedal steel as a tool of atmosphere these days? Great bands make albums that have no filler. California is a perfect cycle of love and melancholy. Side one (firefly thru Blue and Grey Shirt) especially is made up of five songs that simply could not be improved. The 7 or 8 seconds silence in the middle of laughingstock only serves to provide a perfect centre to this sequence. After the drunken rant of Bad Liquor, a slight optimism takes over, just to help the fatally broken-hearted atiny bit.Eitzel's voice is rich in character. Pathetic, intimate, passionate, despairing, drunk, hopeful and resigned. He never again managed to match the form and songs to the texture of his singing.California was too subtle to be a massive hit, but remains an undiscovered gem."
William Stephen Dalrymple | Denny, Scotland | 06/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't really add any more to the previous review - it sums up this beautiful album perfectly.I bought the vinyl when it first came out , played it to death then was lucky enough to pick up a CD in a 2nd hand shop - i was a happy guy that day.Anyhoo , this is a lost classic that is crying out for a reissue , y'know with all that remastered stuff and extra tracks and sleevenotes etc.I live for the day when this timeless treasure gets it's due,like the Uncle Tupelo albums did.
Strikes me that this would be perfect for those lovely,discerning chaps at Rhino Records.Id put money on it being a fave at their HQ.
One of my all -time classic LP's.....
Love from Sunny (!)Scotland"
F. A Ognibene | Germantown, TN United States | 09/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"American Music Club is the only band whose music has actually brought me to tears. No lie. This album is not DEPRESSING. When I think of depressing music, I think of Leonard Cohen, and this is in no way a listening experience that makes you want to honestly die(that comment is in no way directed as an insult to Mr. Cohen, who I believe is in the top 5 lyricists of all time). California is one of the saddest albums you are bound to hear, with songs such as Blue and Grey Shirt, Jenny, Western Sky, and Last Harbor(which has my vote as the most heartbreaking song I have ever heard). Mark Eitzel is the "spokesman for every tired thing" in my eyes, and his word was never as direct as it is here. The only problem with AMC is that they have 3 albums (this one, Everclear, and Mercury) that are perfect, and it is impossible, at least for me, to say which is best. It's worth searching for."
A great lost classic
Buffalohump77 | Heart of Darkness | 07/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Why why why why why why why is this CD still so hard to find? Used copies of this on Amazon now start at $45!
I cannot believe that one of the great classic albums of the late 80s is still out of production. With so many bands from this era reforming and getting huge respect for their contribution to music why does the genius of AMC remain neglected and hidden in the shadows?
This is such a remarkable piece of contemporary art. AMC were a GREAT band and this is their absolute peak. I haven't listened to it in years but just reading through the song titles brings tears to my eyes. My vinyl copy has long since disappeared down the corridors of time and I am really desperate to get the CD.
Will somebody please reissue this masterpiece already!"