Norman Connors / Aquarian Dream

Aquarian Dream

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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.