First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by John Metzger
Sam Moore, who was part of the legendary soul duo Sam & Dave, has been trying to supercharge his solo career for more than 36 years. Although Overnight Sensational, his bid for a comeback, might get the job done, itís hardly worthy of his legacy. In what has become a customary method of obtaining mainstream attention, Moore not only tabbed a high-profile person to produce his new effort, but he also surrounded himself with an array of special guests. In this case, Randy Jackson, the notable session musician who squandered his credentials by joining the panel of judges on American Idol, was enlisted to sculpt the affair. The all-star supporting cast runs the gamut from the dependably appropriate (Bruce Springsteen, Billy Preston, Steve Winwood, and Sting) to the puzzling (Wynonna, Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, and Paul Rodgers) to the insane (Jon Bon Jovi, Mariah Carey, and Fantasia).
Unfortunately, making matters worse is the material that was chosen for Moore to cover. Granted, it was partner Dave Prater who, along with Isaac Hayes, penned the original fare for Sam & Dave, but certainly Jackson could have dug a little deeper to find better songs than those that were written by Seals and Crofts, Paul Carrack, and Diane Warren (whose Blame It on the Rain became a #1 hit for Milli Vanilli). Indeed, there are so many problems with Overnight Sensationalís construction that the primary reason for putting together such a blockbuster collection ó so that Moore could return to the spotlight ó too often becomes obscured by the glossy haze that envelops its arrangements.
Surprisingly, Overnight Sensational isnít a total failure, and throughout the set, Mooreís still-golden voice provides the albumís few bright spots ó even when the music itself lacks a pulse. He brings a fire and brimstone fervor to Better to Have and Not Need; he suitably fills None of Us Are Free with a sense of poignancy; and despite Careyís incessant wailing, he finds the majestic yearning in Itís Only Make Believe. Faring better is his duet with Bekka Bramlett on Donít Play That Song (You Lied), which, while not breaking new ground, at least has the emotional drive of Mooreís classic material.
The problem remains, however, that Jackson has spent so much time manufacturing pseudo celebrities out of flash-in-the-pan, wannabe pop stars like Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, and Fantasia (who, not coincidentally, is paired with Moore on Blame It on the Rain) that heís forgotten that there are real vocalists who deserve better than to be framed by generic, lifeless arrangements. Outside the palpable chemistry that Moore shares with Bramlett, the bulk of the album feels forced to fit within the predetermined framework of some marketing guruís concept of what a hit record ought to be. As a result, Jackson effectively has turned Overnight Sensational into an American Idol-style audition that precisely highlights everything that is wrong with the music industry. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box