United Artists UA-LA650-G
Released: August 1976
Chart Peak: #87
Weeks Charted: 10
On the face of it, American Flyer looks like an incongruous assemblage: Craig Fuller (from the original Pure Prairie League), East Coast singer/songwriter Eric Kaz, former BS&T and Blues Project member Steve Katz, and former Velvet Undergrounder Doug Yule. But under the guidance of producer George Martin, this quartet of respected middleweights finds unity through diversity. More important, their sophistication allows Martin to expound the baroque interpretation of folk and country rock that his albums with America have suggested.
Fuller, who sings lead on most of the cuts, has a plaintive twang rather like J.D. Souther's and a comfortable writing talent to match. "The Woman in Your Heart," his best solo effort though not on a par with prime Eagles, is as catchy a piece of country rock as anything he did with Pure Prairie League. Steve Katz's two contributions, "Back in '57" and "M," are low-keyed personal recollections that reflect his Blues Project days in a MOR perspective. Their mournful urbanity places them utterly apart in spirit from the rest of the album. Yule's "Lady Blue Eyes," a quietly mysterious love song, and "Queen of All My Days," an engaging calypso, provide above-average filler. Surprisingly, the album's weakest moment is a lackluster version of Kaz's most famous and possibly best song, "Love Has No Pride."
If unity through diversity continues to prevail among this foursome, American Flyer should stand a good chance of success. Few groups can claim so strong a lineup of writers, with Kaz and Fuller promising to become a major collaborative duo.
- Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 9/23/76.
American Flyer deserved better. Eric Kaz had written great love songs for Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt, and Craig Fuller was coming off his Top 40 hit "Amie" with Pure Prairie League. As it happened, Steve Katz's "Back in '57" turned out to be one of the album's highlights, but "Let Me Down Easy," by Kaz and Fuller, was a minor hit, and there was also Kaz's classic co-composition "Love Has No Pride." But those were just the cream of an excellent set produced by George Martin. Add it all up, and it should have meant more than a chart peak in the lower reaches of the Top 100, an early indication that, for whatever reasons, American Flyer was not destined to become the next Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. * * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
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