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The Dream Weaver
Gary Wright

Warner Bros. BS 2868
Released: July 1975
Chart Peak: #7
Weeks Charted: 75
Certified Platinum: 10/13/86

Gary WrightIt says right there on the cover that Gary Wright's The Dream Weaver is an "album of keyboard music" produced mainly with various and sundry synthesizers, and as a rule I am rather less than enthusiastic about such things. I do make exceptions, of course: I'm quite partial to a lot of Genesis and Pink Floyd, and I've a few favorite Yes pieces, even though I can't stand Jon Anderson's singing and doubt that Rick Wakeman, poor sot, has done anything truly worthwhile since "A Glimpse of Heaven" with the Strawbs.

As for the rest, I could cheerfully live forever without hearing Tomita, or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, or most of those cloning hordes of Continentals (in this country, pubescent boys build model cars and airplanes, but in Europe they obviously design and construct their own lavish electronic gear) who mostly emulate British groups who were, in most cases, fairly blatant plagiarists themselves. I might feel differently if I ever got my hands on a synthesizer -- I'm sure they're as much fun to play with as any other electronic gadget. But I see no justification for charging people money to hear spoiled children play with their toys, and that's what most of those people seem to be doing most of the time.

Gary Wright - The Dream Weaver
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
Gary Wright, though, is a slightly different story. He's not only a proficient keyboardist, but he is also a capable, experienced songwriter, a skill which in most of the synthesizer "geniuses" fall short. Dream Weaver is composed primarily of solidly crafted, intelligently executed pop songs, some with almost a disco flavor, but most strongly resembling a latter-day Spooky Tooth, which is hardly surprising; Gary Wright was the main, perhaps the only, creative force behind that group (it started out in 1968 as a sort of cross between Procol Harum and the early Spencer Davis Group), especially in its later configuration.

Spooky Tooth, like a lot of bands, went through a variety of changes, but although they had a fair cult following and most people at least knew what they sounded like, they were never widely popular, probably because they produced only one consistently good album, Spooky Two, for which Gary Wright composed or co-authored most of the material, played organ, and provided backing vocals. Around 1970 he left the group and released two solo albums (Extraction and Footprint, both unfortunately deleted from A&M's catalog), but he rejoined (reformed?) Spooky Tooth a couple of years later and more or less led the group until its demise. Their later albums were pretty erratic, but all give evidence of Wright's increasing fascination with electronic instrumentation, which has culminated for now in The Dream Weaver.

Despite the plethora of electronics involved, however, this is not a mere freak-noise record. The many synthesizers are marshaled quite effectively to enhance, not upstage, the songs, and Man retains control of Machine most of the time, which is as it should be but seldom is. Nearly all the material is bright, catchy, and brief -- no song is over five minutes long, most are under four -- which helps make this a reasonably interesting record several cuts above the average in both concept and execution.

It's not perfect, of course. The music is extremely well played, but I find a couple of things, the Moog bass in particular, intrusive and irritating. Since most the songs are so deftly constructed, the few inferior ones seem even weaker by comparison. And I thoroughly dislike the album's cheap science-fiction packaging -- Flash Gordon cum David Bowie. Really now, people, this sort of thing has been passé for ages!

But my chief disappointment with The Dream Weaver is that it simply isn't as good as Wright's previous albums. It is, with all its brisk, up-tempo numbers, similar in mood to much of Extraction, but it contains no sing with the dynamic or emotional impact of "I've Got a Story" or "Over You Now," not to mention "Love to Survive" and "Forgotten" from Footprint, two of the most haunting and beautiful songs I know of anywhere.

None of Gary Wright's compositions have ever dealt with any startlingly original concepts -- "We need love to survive"is hardly a novel notion -- but with simple, direct language and attractive melodies he somehow manages to communicate his ideas effectively without being preachy or dogmatic. The Dream Weaver certainly isn't the best work he's done, but it does show his capabilities, and perhaps if we're very lucky and the current commercial success of the album's title track doesn't spoil him, the next Gary Wright effort may be his best ever. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

- Linda Frederick, Stereo Review, 6/76.




Further reading on
Super Seventies RockSite!:

Album Review:
The Light of Smiles

Album Review:
Waiting To Catch The Light

Album Review: Connected

Album Review:
Spooky Tooth - Witness

Gary Wright Lyrics

Gary Wright Videos

Bonus Reviews!

The trouble with The Dream Weaver is that most of it sounds alike. For all the effects you can squeeze out of electric pianos, organs, clavinets and sythesizers, those devices still have one vital thing in common: a keyboard. As such, the same physical process is usually employed to produce a sound -- a process entirely different from that of, say, a reed or a fretted instrument. This is why you can almost always tell the machines fromthe actual instruments. Synthesizers only synthesize -- they don't duplicate, which means that sameness is an easy trap to slip into.

Gary Wright's choice of instruments on his second solo try does little justice to his solid songwriting. Working within basic rock frameworks and chord structures, he manages never to be hackneyed. Few arrangements, however, stand out though "Power of Love" does drive with the best of the hard rockers. Generally, this is a long, mechanized wash, with the moog bass line particularly monotonous.

- Charley Walters, Rolling Stone, 10-9-75.

That man from Spooky Tooth and Wonderwheel comes up with a thoroughly tasteful tour-de-force LP full of soft excitements. Wright plays most of the back-up music on an array of overdubbed keyboards as well as writing, singing and producing. This album could build quietly into a major sleeper success with the audience that cares about sophisticated, pleasant rock. Best cuts: "Dream Weaver," "Made To Love You," "Power Of Love."

- Billboard, 1975.

Supposedly, the artistic breakthrough here is that Gary has transcended the electric guitar. Some breakthrough -- good thing Lee Michaels never took up with a synthesizer. Although if he had he wouldn't have pimped it off to (and I quote) "the astral plane." C

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

During the fall of 1975, the title cut from this album became an enormous hit, with its atmospheric synthesizer washes and spacey sentiments. The followup, "My Love Is Alive," did just as well. Most of the album trades on the same themes but with less success.

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

When Spooky Tooth truly called it quits in 1975, Wright followed with his platinum-selling solo effort The Dream Weaver, which garnered two Top 10 hits, the title track and "Love Is Alive." * * *

- Patrick McCarty, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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