By 1978, Cris Williamson's fans had been waiting three years for her follow-up to The Changer and the Changed, her career-defining 1975 album. Several things about Live Dream suggested that it was not to be taken as a formal successor. To begin with, there was the title, which accurately signaled this was a concert recording. Then there was the rather primitive artwork on the cover, which also bore the names of Williamson's side musicians Jackie Robbins and June Millington. Also, the album was not released on Williamson's regular label, Olivia Records, but on an imprint called The Dream Machine. Still, the sound of the disc may have come as some surprise to Williamson's followers, since it was very rudimentary and not anywhere near the standard of a typical release; in effect, Williamson seemed to have bootlegged herself. But once listeners got over the shock that this was closer to a home recording than a regular commercial album, it turned out to have considerable charm. The interaction between the three musicians and the audience, beginning with a snippet of "Waterfall," a favorite from The Changer and the Changed, was noticeably warm. Not trying to match the album's predecessor, Williamson introduced a batch of simple, singable new songs that were very appealing. A few, particularly "Lullabye," were such automatic singalongs that it wouldn't have been unusual to see the word "traditional" in the songwriting credit. Playing loosely and switching from one instrument to another, the trio sang in Spanish, covered Jimmy Cliff, and let Millington take the spotlight for the entertaining "I Would Fly." By making such a determinedly low-key recording, Williamson was able to defuse the anticipation for her next album and start afresh.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann