John Stewart

Dream Babies Go Hollywood

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After folk-based Kingston Trio veteran John Stewart had a Top Five single with "Gold" from the Top Ten album Bombs Away Dream Babies in 1979, he largely repeated the pop/rock formula the next year with Dream Babies Go Hollywood. This time, Stewart didn't have the assistance of Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks (who were likely concentrating on Tusk hubbub). However, Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson helped out and sang background vocals on most Dream Babies Go Hollywood cuts. "Hollywood Dreams" is a bright, easygoing pop tune. "Wind on the River," a dreamy, folk-pop ballad, is enriched by Stewart's warm, supple vocals. "Wheels of Thunder" is a pleasant surprise here because it's a straightforward rock & roll song; heavily distorted electric guitar licks cut through the warm keyboards, the crisp acoustic guitar, and the fast rhythm section. "Odin (Spirit of the Water)" is boldly dark and brooding; Stewart's lead vocals and the background vocals are fiercely energetic. "The Raven" is another highlight thanks to Stewart's ethereal, urgently whispered vocals and the female harmony vocals in the chorus. Dream Babies Go Hollywood marks Stewart's last sliver of solo mainstream success to date -- a shame because his music is criminally underrated. Fortunately, a diehard core of Stewart cultists have kept his name alive by packing his club and theater concerts and buying the albums he released on smaller independent labels as well as on his own Homecoming imprint.

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