"Sweet Dreams" is Mighty Sam McClain's second album for Telarc, and is more than a match for its highly acclaimed predecessor. McClain continues to go from strength to strength, writing and delivering some of the finest soul blues around. His latest outing includes another nine original tunes, and sees him revisiting his earlier career to successfully dip into country music too.
"Sweet Dreams" is bookended by the first of the new tunes, "Here I Come Again." The opening version sets a terrific groove, that lets you know that Mighty Sam is back, and means business. Somehow the horns seem a little less sterile than last time, which gives the band a slightly rawer, and more soulful sound. The reprise of "Here I Come Again" which closes the album is in a much slower tempo, and you can easily imagine Bobby Bland being interested in recording this one.
The title track is the old Don Gibson tune, and one which McClain had a hit with back in the 1960's. It is served up in fine style, and shows that there is a thin line between country and soul music. Several of the best soul singers have successfully straddled that line, and McClain shows that he certainly merits his place alongside them. This is not the only time that McClain visits country territory, either. On "Learn How To Love You
Again" McClain ventures into the area that includes Kenny Rogers' "Lucille."
Elsewhere there is plenty to enjoy from upbeat danceable numbers like "Standing In The Wings" and "Must Be The Music," to the lower and slower tunes such as "Nothing But A Feeling" and "Where Would I Be?" Mighty Sam and the band simply take them all in their stride. This is Mighty Sam's current road band (plus Bruce Katz on piano and occasional B-3), and it shows, because they are a very tight outfit, and they recorded the whole album just two days.
Mighty Sam McClain has come up with the goods yet again on "Sweet Dreams." Right now there are few, if any, more consistent performers in the blues. "Sweet Dreams" is instantly recognizable as a Sam McClain album, although it never sounds formulaic. Fans will know what to expect, and anyone with the slightest interest in soul/blues will like this album. Make no mistake, "Sweet Dreams" should be right up there at the top
of your list of CDs to buy this year.
Those who want to find out more about the album should check out the Telarc site (www.telarc.com) and anyone who has not already done so should check in at Mighty Sam's own site too (www.mightysam.com).
This review is copyright © 2001 by Gordon Baxter, 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.