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The Light of Smiles
Gary Wright

Warner Bros. BS 2951
Released: January 1977
Chart Peak: #23
Weeks Charted: 15

Gary Wright's mixing of the erotic and the spiritual into an overawed romanticism, his deliberate "spaceyness" and his fixation on multiple-keyboard textures are all hallmarks of English art rock. But in comparison to the musical excesses that have run rampant in the name of mystical art rock, Wright exercises considerable restraint.

Though Wright's approach to multiple keyboards aims for the standard three-dimensional sound, the instrumental passages are treated as elements of song structure and not as side trips or self-justifying entities. One of the reasons Wright's music doesn't become mired in its own pretensions is its foundation in a vigorous hard-rock drum sound. Uptempo songs like "Are You Weepin'" have a simple integrity that recalls the rave-ups of Lee Michaels. Wright doesn't develop the multiple-keyboard approach beyond extending the palette of standard electric organ and ornamenting it in only the most obviously flashy ways. And as usual this "grand style" ends up sounding more stiff and abrasive than unconventional.

Gary Wright - The Light Of Smiles
Original album advertising art.
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The Light of Smiles puts its wizardry to work in behalf of est as well as the yogi Paramahansa Yogananda, whom Wright inherited from from George Harrison. To his credit, Wright manages to communicate the naive enthusiasm for the ineffable that such cultural phenomena peddle. But he doesn't express the deeper sense of struggle that informs the mystical records of Stevie Wonder or Andy Pratt, or early solo Harrison. Ballads like "Time Machine," "Who Am I" and "Empty Inside" ultimately advertise the instant blissout as alluringly as the Moody Blues' ballads advertised the weekend tripout. They are as vague and cliché-riddled as they are loftily sweet. But such sweetness issuing from one who sounds like Stevie Winwood beatified is almost impossible to dislike. And because it is even sweeter than its predecessor, The Dream Weaver, The Light of Smiles should cinch Gary Wright's position as prince of the new guru rock.

- Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 3/10/77.

Bonus Review!

In the follow-up album to his stupendous breakthrough, Dream Weaver, Wright proves himself even more highly developed as a virtuoso of blending ethereal sounds into a brilliantly commercial texture. He attacks his material and the multiple keyboard sound that is his trademark with more confidence and abandon brought to each element. His arrangements are increasingly varied and dynamic, his voice is more flexible and feathery than ever. This is softly pulsating, spacey music that never gets boring or pretentious. Wright demonstrates that there is a lot more profitable exploration to be made within his now-established style. His voice and the masses of electronic keyboards create an unusually inviting listening environment. Best cuts: "Time Machine," "Water Sign," "The Light Of Smiles," "Child Of Light."

- Billboard, 1977.

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