Mighty Sam McClain has persevered the hard calluses of life to become a soul music legend. In the 60s, he recorded several singles but his career never really took off. Singing since age 5, his influences from the Gospel Church choir (where he first sang) are still evident. On his second Telarc release, McClain delivers a powerful testament to his enduring faith: in himself, his music and in God. Backed by his regular powerhouse band and the Mighty Horns (4 piece brass section), Sam unveils 13 songs that showcase his powerful vocals and uplifting lyrics. For 55 wonderful minutes, you will be swept away in a relaxing trance.
The soul therapy begins with the big band turbo-charged, "Here I Come Again". It features the shuffling drumming of Jim Arnold and driving bass of Tim Ingles. On "Standing In The Wings", the incredible work of Bruce Katz (keys) and the horn section combine to follow Sam's every vocal move. Sam doesn't hesitate to let the Mighty Horns loose and blow on this blues/soul/R&B crossover tune. "Learn How To Love You Again" sounds too familiar to be original. It dates back to Sam's time spent in Nashville. Thus, it's a country song but without the twang. You can't help joining in on the chorus. Thanks to the wah-wahish guitar of Kevin Belz and the rich, heavy B-3 of Barry Seelen, "Fool For The Blues" is a grooving funk. "Living In My Dreams" is a joyous autobiographical song where Sam's vocal enthusiasm is equaled by Katz on B-3. Here, Sam shares how thrilled he is with life.
Later, he puts a twist on a well known respected song and delivers the lyrics in a challenging and soul-searching way. The most bluesy tune is a cover of Christian artist Glen Kaiser's "Where Would I Be". On it, Sam inspires Belz to rein supreme by demanding him to 'squeeze it son'. Belz becomes so inspired he keeps letting it rip through the next track. The reprise version of "Here I Come Again" is jazzy, sensual and sassy. The Mighty One originally recorded the title track in 1966 and it launched his career. Now he re-records it the way he (not the producer) wants it to sound.
The music is a mix of down-home blues and smooth soul. Sam's voice is strong and confident allowing him to deliver the words with plenty of passion. When he sings a lyric, you know he means it. As an example listen to "I Love Hard". There is a calmness and peacefulness in his music. It is visually represented by the picture of Sam on the back cover. Liner note writer Bill Wasserzieher sums things up simply: 'Mighty Sam's living his dreams and they are sweet'.
For CDs, booking and information, contact: Tel (216) 464-2313 x221. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.telarc.com Artist website: www.mightysam.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tim Holek, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.