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Dobie Gray 1940-2011,
This review is from: DRIFT AWAY, LOVING ARMS, HEY DIXIE (Audio CD)
Anyone of a certain age would recognise the sound of "Drift Away" even if some could not name the singer. Less so now, but it was a staple airplay favourite for decades after its release in the early 1970s - and yes, it is indisputably a classic track with its dreamy feel and its "clap along to the acapella section" climax.
His much earlier success with "The In Crowd" in 1965 is less well remembered now - but it's a great dance number.
Yes, the version of "Drift Away" on this album is the original hit, not from the later (less good) collection of remakes that were pushed out in recent years (easy way to tell: if Dobie sings "Daaaaay after day I'm all confused" then you have the remake and not the original hit). But, fear-not! This collection is ALL the original releases, no record company scam here - all gold!
Sadly, Dobie was never able to capitalise on the success of either of his international hits. He himself felt that his record company weren't sure to whom they should be marketing soul/country crossover music - and unlike other fusion genres (jazz/rock being the obvious example) it never really caught fire, in commercial terms at least.
I still have a vinyl copy of his "Loving Arms" album which includes the sublime "Good Old Song" on which they were obviously trying to capture the same feel as on "Drift Away" and I do prefer "Good Old Song" over its predecessor - the stereo guitar work on it is magnificent and Dobie's vocal is soaked in feeling. That whole album is a very enjoyable tour through various moods of soul and country - happy, sad, moody and thoughtful with very high production values - which are even more apparent on CD than they were on plastic.
In the pantheon of deceased music stars Dobie may not be front and centre, but he'll always be there and "Drift Away" will have its fans for a very long time to come. I hope this CD release leads some younger musos to discover what their parents may have missed.