Recording Date: Sep 6 1999
All Music Guide
Mighty Sam McClain has come a mighty long way since his homeless days in New Orleans. Today McClain is reborn both professionally and spiritually, and widely acclaimed for his authentic Southern soul. A terrific singer, McClain has also come into his own as a songwriter. Blues for the Soul may be McClain's best album yet - to me, it's the best since his comeback release Give it Up to Love (1993).
McClain is a deep-soul singer in the tradition of Bobby "Blue" Bland and Otis Redding. You'll find a motherlode of soul on his latest biscuit. Blues, R&B and gospel fuse easily on the album, which contains 12 original songs elevated by Sam's earnest vocals, a flaming four-piece horn section, and Bruce Katz's pumping piano.
One big difference between this recording and some of McClain's past albums is that many of the songs here are up-tempo and even danceable. McClain's vocals are as heartfelt as ever, but he adds some growly wailing to the mix, particularly on rousing climaxes to "Going Back to New Orleans" and the irresistible "Sing Me Some Blues." The horn section is more prominent, with crisp, intricate arrangements by trumpeter Walter Platt. And ace pianist Katz (ex of Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters) is given plenty of space to work his magic.
The usual McClain themes of love and religion dominate. A born-again Christian, McClain gets overly preachy on "Jesus Got the Blues," an emotive slow-blues number that's saved by Katz's soulful piano work. More successful is "Not I," a rollicking gospel number. Of the secular tunes, the best are the pulsing "Dark Side of the Street," the funky "Going Back to New Orleans," and "Sing Me Some Blues," a jazzed-up shuffle that's arguably the best song on the CD.
- Ed Kopp, published: June 1, 2000 (www.allaboutjazz.com/m/article.php?id=5636)
This album is a bit different than his previous work that I have been exposed to. However it sounds a lot more like what Mighty Sam sounded like when I saw him LIVE earlier this year…
It's more diverse than the other albums I have heard by Mighty Sam McClain and if all was right in the world, you would be hearing these songs on both your local Soul and Jazz radio stations, and you wouldn't be surprised one bit if it showed up on a Gospel radio show.
I also realize than many of you have never heard the music of Mighty Sam McClain and are at a disadvantage, to therefore I will help you out by including the names of some artists that a particular song will remind you of.
This is almost unfair to both Mighty Sam and the artists whose names I might drop here.
A better solution would be to go to Sam's web site where you can sample some of these tracks for yourself
Here are the tracks……
1. All We Need is Love
This song starts out with horns blaring and we know this is going to be different. What we have here is Mighty Sam bringing his fabulous band out of the shadows to accompany his soulful voice and the result is something that reminds you a great deal more than Al Green, than Otis Redding
2. Dark Side of the Street
Mighty Sam's band which consists of: Mighty Sam McClain, vocals, Kevin Belz - guitar, Bruce Katz - piano/hammond B-3, Barry Seleen, Hammond B-3, Tim Ingles - bass, Jim Arnold - drums - The Mighty Horns: Walter Platt - trumpet and horn arrangements, Chuck Langford - tenor sax, Kenny Wenzel - trombone, Joe Casano - trumpet will remind you a bit of Booker T and the MG's. And on this song about illicit love, they don't disappoint!
3. Love One Another
On this song Sam is pleading for the cause of universal love for one another, "even when we got the blues". When he sings these words you know damn well that they are coming at you in a serious way, perhaps too serious for some people. In my mind, these are the kind of lyrics that we don't hear enough of.
4. Going Back to New Orleans
Think about the Neville Brothers or Dr. John on this cut. It's just as FUNKY as it wants to be and Louisiana native, Mighty Sam is doing some serious Gospel type shouting as he pays homage to a city that he is obviously in love with.
5. No One Can Take Your Place
If you closed your eyes and listed to this song you would think that Al Green's band from the 1970's was playing behind Sam on this cut. Much of Mighty Sam's music is autobiographical and here Sam is singing the praises of his wife in a way that all husbands should
6. Jesus Got the Blues
This is one INCREDIBLE song, not only for it's title, but also for it's accompanying words. The band sounds like they are playing some DEEP Cold Blooded Slow Urban Blues, while Sam is singing a pretty heavy spiritual message. This is one BADD cut, perhaps my favorite on the album!
7. Sweet Lady
Do yall remember a Jazz/Blues singer named Joe Williams? This song will make you recall his music
8. Battlefield of Love
Last year there was a "revival" of "swing music". If you like that style of music, look no further because Mighty Sam has got the REAL THANG right here. Oh I know that some of you might be tempted to call this song "boggie woggie" of some such term, but this music sounds like something that "jitterbuggers" from the 30's or 40's might enjoy.
9. Mighty's Prayer
It's just what the title suggests. It's a prayer, but just to keep you on edge, this song also features a Pat Metheny style guitar solo right smack in the middle
10. Sing Me Some Blues
This song is pure "uptown urban blues", just like you might have heard at the Apollo during the 1950's. Think about the music of Johnny Otis here and you have got the picture!
11. Can't Stand It
Mix together the soulful sounds of Mighty Sam with some Hendrix style wah wah and some Blood Sweat and Tears style horns and you get this tasty morsal of a song.
12. Not I
It almost sounds like Aretha Franklin is playing the piano solo at the beginning of this song. "I once was BLIND, but now I see…"
Diverse as it is, the central theme of Mighty Sam's music remains intact, "we got to love one another, even when we got the blues". Mighty Sam is not your typical artist. His music is soulful, funky, jazzy, bluesy and yet his words challenge the listener to confront their own lives and hold themselves accountable for their actions. Supposedly "message music" went out in the 1970's, but Mighty Sam doesn't give a damn about what is trendy, he cares much more about telling the truth, and telling it straight from his heart.
-Bob Davis (www.soul-patrol.com/soul/mightysam.htm)