Aquarian Dream – 1976 – Aquarian Dream
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A fantastic Norman Connors soul-funk-fusion project.
Amazing boogie funk with strong jazz influences all created for the dancefloor. Entire albums is good but East 6th Street, Guitar Talk and the dancer Phoenix stand out. A must have.
An acclaimed jazz-funk/disco LP, this was the first of three LPs for Aquarian Dream.
It contains the much-sampled “Phoenix“, which has also been issued on many recent disco CD compilations, but all the songs are great on this LP.
Aquarian Dream was an obscure but noteworthy 1970s soul/funk band that, despite its association with Norman Connors, was unable to score a hit. The band was formed in 1976, when Connors brought it to Buddah and produced its debut album, Norman Connors Presents Aquarian Dream. That year, Dream’s lineup included lead singer Gloria Jones(not to be confused with the singer of the same name who sang the original version of “Tainted Love” in the 1960s), saxophonist Claude Bartee Jr. (who had a jazz background and had been a sideman for Grant Green, Pucho, and others), guitarist Pete Bartee, keyboardist Jacques Burvick, percussionist Mike Fowler, and drummer Jimmy Morrison (who shouldn’t be confused with the Doors’ lead singer).
In 1976, Norman Connors was hot in the R&B market. Having enjoyed major hits with “Valentine Love” and “You Are My Starship,” the Philadelphia jazz improviser-turned-soul-star was being denounced as a sellout by jazz’s hardcore while commanding a lot of respect in R&B circles. So when Connors produced Aquarian Dream’s debut album, Norman Connors Presents Aquarian Dream, in 1976, it should have done well. However, this little-known LP was a commercial disappointment (by R&B standards) despite Connors’ presence and despite the fact that the material is generally respectable. The album detours into instrumental jazz-funk on “East 6th Street” but for the most part, it favors a sleek, sophisticated soul/funk approach that could be described as Connors-meets-New Birth-meets-Earth, Wind & Fire. Dream has an impressive lead singer in Gloria Jones, whose gospel-influenced belting serves the band well on cuts that range from the exuberant yet sentimental “I’ll Always Love You, T” and the mystical “Phoenix” to the gritty “Guitar Talk“. Like Dream’s two subsequent albums,Norman Connors Presents Aquarian Dream has long been out of print and it’s unlikely that it will ever be reissued on CD, but it’s worth obtaining if you’re able to track down a copy.