This is a review I wrote in late 2001 that appeared in the DC Blues Calendar. Mighty Sam remains such a great voclaist it is well worth calling your attention to today.
Since his “rediscovery,” the former deep soul legend Mighty Sam McClain has slowly developed a following with a number of very fine releases, the latest of which, Sweet Dreams, has been recently released on Telarc. McClain certainly stands as one of the finest singers working in the soul-blues vein, with a delivery and voice that should appeal to fans of Bobby Bland. McClain also wrote many of these tunes, exceptions being the soulful transformation of the title track which is one of the tunes country legend Patsy Cline is best identified with and the Staple Singers’ hit Respect Yourself. With a solid band anchored by Bruce Katz on piano and Barry Seelen on the B-3 and a solid horn section, McClain belts out a variety of tunes with standouts including the country-flavored ballad Learn How to Love You Again, and Nothing But a Feeling, a nice slow blues with nice solo breaks for tenor saxophonist Chuck Langford and pianist Katz. While capable of belting out a lyric with the best of them, what makes McClain so special is that he delivers the songs so soulfully without shouting the lyrics except for emphasis. Perhaps some of the tunes are somewhat generic shuffles and slow blows and the horns play somewhat generic riffs, but McClain is one of those vocalists that one would not mind listening to sing about anything.