Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Mighty Sam McCLAIN - Sledgehammer Soul & Down Home Blues 1997
Great music combined with excellent audio quality on this Audioquest CD!One of Mighty Sam's best albums, and probably my best blues-CD besides "Keep On Movin'", also from him. The fantastic recording quality brings out his powerful voice and all nuances of modulation for one of the rare sound experiences that not too many productions are able to present us, unfortunately. Listen to Joe Golindo's blues trombone on track 2, to Bruce Katz's ecstatic piano "rumbling" in the lowest tones on the keyoard on track 5 "When the Hurt is Over", then you know what I mean. The band is an excellent companion for Mighty Sam, probably the best ensemble he had among all of his albums. Listen to his dialogue with the band on track 4 and track 11 "Bridge of Faith". It's a superb album - one that I never get tired of listening to!Finally a warning: it's not for background listening - you got to take your time to listen to this album and really enjoy it, but it's worth it.
Sam McClain was born in Louisiana in 1943. As a five year old, he began singing in his mother's Gospel Church. He left home when he was thirteen to escape an abusive stepfather and followed local R & B guitarist Little Melvin Underwood through the Chitlin Circuit. First as his valet and then as lead vocalist himself. While he was singing at the 506 Club in Pensacola, Florida he was introduced to Producer / DJ, "Papa Don" Schroeder. In 1966, Sam recorded Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams", his first real success. Several recording sessions at Muscle Shoals produced singles, "Fannie-Mae" and "In the Same Old Way", but his career never really took off. For fifteen years, first in Nashville, then in New Orleans Sam worked menial jobs and was forced to sell his plasma while he was homeless. Sam was offered a chance to tour and record in Japan in 1989. "Live In Japan", featuring legendary Wayne Bennett is a truly fine recording, much sought after by fans worldwide. By the early 1990's Sam networked his way to New England by way of his association with the Hubert Sumlin's Blues Party project (produced by Hammond Scott on Black Top). These friends provided encouragement and collaborations, which led to Joe Harley and AudioQuest Music. The results were these successful releases, "Give It Up To Love", "Keep On Movin", "Sledgehammer Soul and Down Home Blues", "Journey". ("New Man In Town" was used in the TV show Ally McBeal on FOX-TV). Sam signed on with the Telarc Blues label in 1999 and released two records before starting his own label in 2003, Mighty Music, and released, "One More Bridge To Cross".
Vocalist Mighty Sam McClain lends his gruff Bobby Bland-ish style to Sledgehammer Soul & Down Home Blues (AudioQuest 1042; 71:37). Backed by a capable group of blues scholars, including Bruce Katz on Hammond B-3 organ, Kevin Barry on guitar and a punchy four-piece horn section, McClain dishes out portions of gospel, country, funk, reggae, R&B and blues with a truckload of soul, but he's ultimately most affecting on confessional slow blues numbers like "When The Hurt Is Over (Maybe Love Will Flow)," "They Call Me Mighty" (his answer to "Stormy Monday") and "If You Could See." Deep, deep blues from the old school delivered with heartfelt conviction.
By Bill Milkowski.
01. Sledgehammer Soul & Downhome Blues
02. Where You Been So Long
03. Trying To Find Myself
04. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
05. When The Hurt Is Over
07. They Call Me 'Mighty'
08. Dancin' To The Music Of Love
09. Hey Miss Bea
10. If You Could See
11. Bridge Of Faith
12. Don't Write Me Off