As with previous Orleans albums, Let There Be Music, from earlier in 1975, and the self-titled 1973 disc on ABC records, the majority of the music on Waking and Dreaming is from the pens of John Hall and Johanna Hall. "Still the One" was the big hit, its inverted Chuck Berry riff embracing a timeless sentiment every lover wants to hear: "We're still having fun -- and you're still the one." The sounds shift on the album, working best when themes of love come into play, the touching "If I Don't Have You" being a real standout. While the late Wells Kelly provides one of the weaker tracks, "The Bum," a collaboration by Larry Hoppen and Marilyn Mason, the album's closing song, "Spring Fever," is a real sleeper. It's an indication of the duo's songwriting skills which led to 1979's big hit, "Love Takes Time," providing evidence that the Hoppens had a right to carry on with the band name despite John and Johanna Hall having such a lock on the songwriting. Charles Plotkin's production works, especially on the hit and "Golden State," a laid-back folky/jazzy understated ode, while the title track shows potential but drifts off into a jam. The biggest problem with Waking and Dreaming, outside of the dreadful album cover of the not very photogenic longhairs posing seemingly naked for the camera, is that the band moves away from its area of success, the tight vocal harmonies and the cousin-to-the Eagles soft rock sound that was perfect for Asylum records. When the band gets heavy, as on the AOR-styled '70s funk of "What I Need," Orleans loses its identity. "Still the One" is as hard as this band should've rocked with John Hall at the helm, light enough for soft rock, strong enough to dance to. The reggae of "The Path" is a nice diversion, but the folky sounds of "Sails" is the kind of album track the fans expect, and it delivers the goods. It is John Hall at his isolated finest, the keyboards building with the singer, creating a niche for the voices to come in and fill. "Sails" is short, sweet, and magical, the kind of number that Waking and Dreaming should have had more of to surround the rare jewel of a hit song that "Still the One" is.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione