Overnight Sensational (Rhino)
Yes, we turned up our noses when we got wind of the new Sam Moore CD. Admittedly, the world is used to hearing Moore as half of the classic ’60s soul duo Sam and Dave, but who seriously thinks that Sting, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi could fill the late Dave Prater’s shoes? It must have been producer and American Idol judge Randy “Yo, Dawg” Jackson (who brought former Idol winner Fantasia with him to sing on one track). On paper, this project looked about six different kinds of tacky. On record, it’s marginally better—at least Moore showed up.
Instead of taking cues from recent albums by Solomon Burke and Bettye LaVette and giving Moore good songs with an unslick backing band, producer Jackson went the Ray Charles Genius Loves Company route and had him duetting with some Very Special Guests on each and every track. Moore himself is still on his game; he and Fantasia even manage a halfway decent job on Milli Vanilli’s “Blame It on the Rain.” Better still, Springsteen, Eric Clapton and the various superstar guests stay out of his way. Still, the polished production sinks the whole CD. If the album-rock guitars don’t get you, then the popping theme-from-Seinfeld bass will (although someone had the sense to keep Carey mixed low when she goes off on her vile falsetto jag). Even the song titles have been sanitized: Don Covay’s “It’s Better to Have (and Don’t Need)” is now “…Not Need.” If there is a sequel, we hope Moore gets earthier musicians and the spotlight to himself. He doesn’t need Mr. and Ms. And Special Guest helping him out.—James Porter