When Tina Turner was with Ike, she use to open up "Proud Mary" with the
following statement, "Y' know, every now and then I think you might like to
hear something from us nice and easy". That's exactly how Mighty Sam
McClain opens up his new offering, One More Bridge to Cross on his new label
'Mighty Music'. Sam draws you in so nicely and so easily on "Why Do We Have
to Say Goodbye" that before you know it, you're seduced into a religious
experience with the next two cuts, "Witness" and "Open Up Heaven's Door"
(dedicated to the 911 victims). Before you start feeling the pain in your
knees from praying, he hops you right up with a killer version of "If It
Wasn't 4 da Blues" that comes equipped with blaring horns and killer guitar.
Bottom line, my friends, is that Sam McClain has THE LOVE. There is no
other way to describe this man's beautiful approach to music. There isn't a
song he doesn't sing from the heart and arrange to fill you up inside. Even
when Sam's breaking your heart, it feels so good. If I could sing like Sam
I wouldn't have a care in the world, I'd just fill up every room in the
world with THE LOVE.
In these days of the disappearance of Soul, we are aching for a prophet with
a good message, and Sam is the Man when it comes to Soul music. Haven't we
all had enough hip hop, pop and rock music and blues guitar pyrotechnics
that's missing the secret ingredient? Where's THE LOVE? It's with Sam
McClain, who deserves a WC Handy Award and a Grammy. Performer, arranger,
producer, record company man, Soulman, Gospelman, Bluesman Sam deserves more
than the world has given him. And maybe, that's why he has all of these
marvelous qualities and songwriting talent. Nothing has ever been handed to
Sam, he's always been at the right place at almost the right time, but not
quite timed well enough to get that big break. But ain't the Blues about
hard luck and no luck? Well, we're all lucky to have Sam on CD and recorded
darn well to boot! Excellent production, it appears Sam's years with former
producer Joe Harley have paid off.
"Are You Ready For Love?" Well are you? You will be after Sam seduces you
with this excellent ballad. "Most of All" is a wonderful tribute Sam makes
to his wife about her belief in him and God. "Been There, Done That" is a
slow walking blues that reeks of sadness and despair. "What's Your Name?" a
catchy, Santanaesque number has a fine searing electric guitar throughout
from Chris Tofield (could your name be Carlos?) and wonderful background
vocals from Conchetta Prio.
The organ vamping by Barry Seelen that opens "I Thought I Heard Your Voice"
pulls you right into a song about judgment day, equipped with a devilish sax
solo from either Pat Herlehy or Mark Paquin (they're both credited with sax
on the liner notes). Trent Austin on trumpet rounds out the 'Mighty Horns',
an extremely powerful horn section that gives the 'Memphis Horns' a run for
the money, especially on this tune. Jim Arnold's drumming throughout the
record is very effective and he does a good job of enforcing the dynamics
needed to compliment Sam's arrangements. Not to forget Dave Smith on bass
who handles each song with dexterity and timing - most important to Sam's
Sam masterfully features different instruments on each of the songs on this
record and by doing this provides variety through the album. "Sweet Honey
Bee" has an Aretha bounce to it and a great contrast to the killer, slow
"The Other Man in the Band" that precedes it. "Don't Leave Me Behind"
penned by lead guitarist Tofield combines Gospel with Blues very
successfully offering up a very memorable chorus.
Sam doesn't quite finish it "rough" like Ike & Tina did with "Proud Mary",
but he does get kind of dirty with the horns on "One More Bridge to Cross".
Can't imagine this man has another bridge to cross as he appears to have
made it to the promised land. Make sure you cross that 'Bridge' when you
come see this title in the record store. Catch a legend while he and you
are still alive to appreciate it.
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