Esoteric Music Reviews to go along with our Esoteric Diary Gary Wright Reviewed by JV with Ken Barnes Liner Notes

Wikipedia referencing my review of Gary Wright …someone on eBay using the review to sell the disc June 18, 2021


Gatefold sleeve. Inside gatefold are liner notes by Ken Barnes and a Gary Wright/Spooky Tooth personnel lineup listing.AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione
     In 1971, United Artists Records released a double LP entitled Winwood, which was called off the market almost as quickly as ABKCO’s Grand Funk meets Terry Knight & the Pack amalgam, Mark, Don & Terry. Gary Wright’s That Was Only Yesterday compilation fares a little better, and should have been much bigger. The late Jimmy Miller, former producer of Spooky Tooth, had put together a production company which boasted Gary Wright, Chrissie Hynde, and others. When the money people fell off the stock market, Miller’s company was no more, and he told this writer he had to release Gary Wright prior to The Dream Weaver. Wright made the jump from A & M to Warner Brothers, where he hit big time, resulting in this marvelous collection of 19 tracks for A & M to cash in on their original investment. Credited as a Gary Wright/Spooky Tooth album, the tracks are scattered across four sides with no apparent rhyme or reason (except that they sound pretty good in this order). There’s a 20-paragraph essay by the brilliant Ken Barnes, former editor of Radio & Records and Ice Magazine, now at USA TODAY. Barnes neatly wraps up the treasures, the two excellent singles “I Know” and “I Can’t See the Reason; four tracks from the Jimmy Miller-produced Spooky Two and one from Tobacco Road; four titles from Footprint, the album that featured George Harrison and Doris Troy; two from Extraction; and only the single from Wonderwheel. There are also tracks from the latter-day Spooky Tooth projects, You Broke My Heart, so I Busted Your Jaw and The Last Puff. So musically, how does this hold up? Incredibly. “Sing a Song,” from the Extraction album, is in the same vein as the Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition from The Last Puff, “Son of Your Father.” These recordings are classic and every bit as valuable as the work of Steve Winwood. The beauty of all this is it is before Wright went off on his keyboard kick, saturating everything in keys and becoming some astral minstrel. It’s bothersome to give a record label credit after they’ve let an artist move on, but the placement of “Holy Water” with “Stand for Our Rights,” from Wright solo to Spooky Tooth, show how influential his contributions were to a band that boasted a future Mott the Hoople guitarist in Luther Grosvenor and future Foreigner with Mick Jones. While Black Sabbath covered Crow’s song “Evil Woman,” the Spooky Tooth song by Weiss became an underground classic. The dirge-like epic, all nine and a half minutes of it, is included here. As Jethro Tull was able to turn “Living in the Past” into a hit years after it was recorded, it is certainly a statement that A & M couldn’t climb the charts with a single from That Was Only Yesterday. Regardless, it is a treat to hear these songs in this context, and a great primer for Gary Wright’s pre-The Dream Weaver work.

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
Like Peter Frampton’s Breaking All the Rules, this is a solid album by “the Dreamweaver,” former Spooky Tooth member Gary Wright. “I’m the One Who’ll Be by Your Side” has a solid hook, but like the aforementioned Frampton disc, it breaks no new ground. “My dreams were shattered” he sings in “Follow Next to You,” which is “Dreamweaver” redux, but not as much as “Moonbeams,” which is an absolute sequel to “Dreamweaver” in melody and in sound. The album is a consistent clone of previous work with one exception: “Love Is Why,” a melodic, together, perfect pop tune with simple, bouncy rhythms and keyboard providing a dancing Gary Wright lead solo. It is the brightest light on Headin’ Home, which is quite entertaining despite the repetition. Transplanted from New Jersey to Great Britain, he sounds very much like Denny Laine on “Keep Love in Your Soul,” not only vocally, but in the songwriting, if you strip away the heavy keyboards. “Love is alive within your back doors” he sings, referring to past work. The mystery of how radio and records hit or miss is inherent in this album, as Wright would reach the Top 20 in 1981, while this and albums that came before it were part of a Top 40 dry spell, a void spanning five years. Though not extraordinary, “Keep Love in Your Soul” is at least as good as “Love Is Alive” and would have been a nice addition to the airwaves in 1979. Rare acoustic guitars open “Love’s Awake Inside,” and it boasts a great chorus. Wright‘s voice is perfect on this outing, an album seemingly driven by a serious relationship in crisis. As Bobby Hebb poured his first divorce into the Epic album Lovegames, Wright makes it clear to his significant other “You Don’t Own Me”: “Give me room” he says, to “discover who I really am inside.” The sentiment is quite different from Lesley Gore’s hit of the same name, and the album appears to be an exploration of various themes of love. With David Crosby, Graham Nash, Hugh McCracken, Steve Lukather, Wright‘s sister Lorna Wright (a.k.a. Lorna Doone), Michael MacDonald, and so many others, this fine album should have had a good run on the charts. Maybe the problem is that Wright‘s production keeps his guests in the background. With a different producer, the same songs and performances could have possibly had much greater success — the magic is there, it just sounds too immersed in previous efforts. Nonetheless, Headin’ Home has much merit, and for fans of Gary Wright, it is very enjoyable.
Lynn Anderson calls Live at The Renaissance Center her first video, and the venue sure looks different from when Freddy Fender played there (and released a DVD by the same name). Backed up by four guys and two gals, the singer abandons the heartbreak for a lovely rendition of the Drifters “Under the Boardwalk,” adding “Michael,” “Ed” and “John” — allegedly from her fan club — doing ridiculous Drifters moves out of sync and out of time. The singer makes it all charming, of course, taking a costume change while the band rumbles through “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” “Someday Soon” is as elegant as ever after an uptempo “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.” The DVD set is chock-full of goodies, interviews with Anderson before and after the show, web links, a discography, a slide show; 44 chapters in all with the concert right in the middle. “Rose Garden,” of course, gets the audience off their seats, and the accompaniment, including Wanda Vick on fiddle, mandolin, and acoustic guitar, Buddy Skipper on piano, and Richard Stickley on drums, doesn’t skip a beat. It’s a solid package for the singer’s following and country/pop music fans in general. ~ Joe Viglione

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