Sam Moore is an honest-to-Aretha soul survivor. As half of Sam & Dave…along with the late Dave Prater…Moore created some of the most indelible R&B records of the Sixties…including “When Something is Wrong with my Baby”, “Hold On, I’m Comin’”, and the immortal “Soul Man”.
Moore has been a revered soul man making appearances on record every now and again...perhaps most notably his fine duet on “Rainy Night in Georgia” with the late, great Conway Twitty on the under-appreciated 1994 soul/country crossover collection Rhythm, County, and Blues.
Overnight Sensational is not a solo album…it is, instead, a Genius Loves Company- style series of collaborations between Moore and some of his many friends and admirers. Producer Randy Jackson (yeah, the “hipster” dork from American Idol) frames the vocalists in a sturdy, but not oppressive, musical foundation that keeps them right up front where they belong.
Wynonna Judd is in fine soulful fettle…a great match for Moore…on the opening track, Ann Peebles’ oft-covered “I Can’t Stand the Rain” (with Billy Preston on keyboards and Bekka Bramlett & BeBe Winans on backing vocals) while Bruce Springsteen channels his inner gospel man on the boisterous “Better to Have and Not Need”.
“Don’t Play That Song”, a hit for the immortal Aretha, is revived to wonderful, soulful effect in a jumpin’ duet between Moore and Bekka Bramlett.
Perhaps the most surprising song on the disc is a funky cover of Tony Toni Tone’s “If I Had No Loot” featuring vocals by Nikka Costa and Van Hunt along with some tasty guitar work by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.
Moore and Travis Tritt make a fine pair on soul-infused cover of “Riding Thumb”, an obscure Seals & Crofts ode to hitchhiking. Robert Randolph ups the energetic ante with some grand pedal steel guitar work. Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers joins in on a soaring gospel-infused take on Garth Brook’s brotherhood anthem “We Shall Be Free”.
The final cut on the album is a heartfelt version of the late Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful” (made famous by Joe Cocker’s version) featuring Preston (whom Moore describes as his best friend) on vocals, Eric Clapton with a sweetly mournful guitar solo, Robert Randolph on steel guitar, and Italian R&B star Zucchero on background vocals. It’s a lovely tribute and sweet coda to the collection.