Burleigh Drummond - drums, vocals; Chris North - piano, keyboards, vocals; David Pack - guitar, keyboards, vocals; Joe Puerta - bass, guitar, vocals; Royce Jones - vocals; David Cutler Lewis - piano, synthesizer
Formed in 1970, the Southern California band Ambrosia was first recognized by Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta, who featured them in part of his All-American Dream Concert the following year. Inspired by many of the progressive rock bands coming out of England in the early 1970s, the rich harmony arrangements of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and CSN&Y, as well as the soulful vocals of Motown, Ambrosia blended these elements into an original symphonic pop/rock with a slickly produced sound. By 1975, when they released their debut self-titled album, Ambrosia had developed a strong regional following enamored with their clear melodies, strong vocal arrangements, and polished sound that was both accessible and radio friendly. With some credit due to Alan Parsons, who engineered the debut album and produced the follow-up, the group displayed inventive musicianship and skillful arranging abilities. However, among Parson's polish was a distinct sense that this band was not taking itself too seriously and having a lot of fun, which translated well into their live performances. The group toured extensively throughout the latter half of the 1970s, supporting mega-popular bands like Fleetwood Mac and The Doobie Brothers.
By the time of the band's third album in 1978, Life Beyond L.A., the group had begun tightening up the arrangements and introducing more typical ballads that showcased the soulful vocals of David Pack. Ambrosia were clearly heading in a more mainstream pop direction. During the sessions for this album, the first to be produced without the help of Alan Parsons, founding member and organist Chris North departed, leaving the remaining trio of Pack, Puerta and Drummond to carry on, augmented by hired guns, including the talented keyboardist and synthesizer player, David Cutler Lewis, who would soon become a full-time member of the touring band. After unsuccessfully searching for an additional organ player for the tour, Chris North returned to fill his own vacancy, and along with former Steely Dan vocalist Royce Jones completed the 1978 touring band. This performance, recorded at the group's first visit to Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the Life Beyond L.A. Tour, captures this transitional era of the band perfectly and features a healthy dose of material from the new album, two of the most popular tracks from the debut, in addition to one of the more esoteric compositions from the band's second album. The set is structured with new material opening and closing the set and older more familiar material in the middle.
This show was recorded upon the release of the band's third album, Life Beyond LA. More musically adventurous than the band's previous albums, Life Beyond LA spawned the band's biggest hit, "How Much I Feel." The success of Life Beyond LA landed Ambrosia an opening spot on tours for both Fleetwood Mac and The Doobie Brothers. Opening this show with "Not As You Were" and moving quickly into "Nice, Nice, Very Nice," the band shows off their musical chops with a number of the songs performed at this concert. Most of the hits are here, including "Holdin' On To Yesterday," "How Much I Feel" and "Life Beyond L.A."
In 1980, Ambrosia made another successful studio album, One Eighty, which delivered two more radio hits ("You're The Only Woman" and "Biggest Part Of Me"), but by then, Chris North had left the band. After 1982's, Road Island, the band's soft progressive sound fell out of favor with radio programmers and soon after, they split up. The members, especially David Pack, worked on a number of other albums by established artists such as Alan Parsons Project. Bassist Joe Puerta became a founding member of Bruce Hornsby & The Range. Ambrosia reformed in 1990, and they have continued touring off and on since then. They released a live album in 2004, and have issued a number of compilations. David Pack has since left the group and currently records and tours as a solo artist.