One question sprang to mind when I learned Audio Fidelity was releasing a limited edition 24 karet gold disc of Gary Wright’s The Dream Weaver. Why? Released in June 1975 but earning its highest sales the following year, the original album isn’t widely considered iconic or historic. While Wright allegedly claimed it was the first all-synthesizer/keyboard album, that’s far from correct. Wendy Carlos, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and Tomita, among others, got there first.
When it debuted, the album was slow to find an audience and was never a dominating musical presence. While placing on the album charts for 75 weeks, largely due to two singles, the title cut and “Love is Alive,” Dream Weaver can be best described as representative of its era in the same spirit as soft pop from, say, Steve Miller or Jefferson Starship. It was part of the music scene that helped spawn the angry reaction from groups like the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Well, that was a long time ago. So the real question becomes: gold, silver, tin or vinyl, is the new edition likely to inspire a new appreciation for the keyboardist’s most famous solo project?
Revisiting this collection for the first time since it came out, I was surprised to hear just how much a time capsule it had become. While not quite being a one-man band, Wright did most of the heavy lifting for this release including singing, composing, producing, and playing Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes, Moog synthesizers, and ARP String Ensemble. David Foster and Bobby Lyle added supplementary keyboards. Jim Keltner and Andy Newmark provided drums and Ronnie Montrose played the only guitar on the album’s “Power of Love.”
The resulting performances touch most of the musical bases of the period. For example, after the opening “Love Is Alive,” we hear a string of tracks more reminiscent of Hall and Oates and blue-eyed soul more so than electronica. Songs like “Let It Out,” “Can’t Find the Judge” and “Much Higher” are based on 1970s bass funk lines. Wright is most distinctive on “Dream Weaver” and “Blind Feeling” before again drawing from then other prevailing styles. “Made to Love You” is disposable pop, “Power of Love” is 70s FM rock. All together, The Dream Weaver captures a time and place in nine songs and just over 30 minutes.
It will likely be the generation who remembers that time fondly who will want this collector’s edition. It will probably not attract many new fans, but packages like these are normally intended for aficionados anyway. If you are one, strike while supplies last.