Mac Arnold’s reemergence in the past few years has been quite noteworthy as more of his generation of blues performers pass on. This review is from early 2007 and I believe my review copy was sent by the label or a publicist. This review originally appeared in the January-February 2007 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 290). My review of a more recent album by Mac Backbone and Gristle was posted last October, http://inabluemood.blogspot.com/2010/10/mac-arnold-meaty-blues.html.
Mac Arnold had a stint with Muddy Waters about four decades ago and followed that up with work with Otis Spann, John Lee Hooker and Tyrone Davis among others. The bassist has emerged with a new album entitled Nothing to Prove (Plantation 1 Records) and its a record rooted in the sounds of four decades ago although with a hard hitting groove that will appear to today’s listeners.
The rocking shuffle, Blues For You, is a driving party song as Arnold exhorts the audience to enjoy themselves as he plays the blues for them. As a vocalist Arnold really excels on the slow tempo songs like the title track, as he tells someone he’s walked in their shoes and had his share of blues with Max Hightower wailing on harp here. Rudy ‘Blues Shoes’ Wyatt plays the piano on Call Mac Arnold, where Arnold tells the ladies to call him when they want to have fun while their man is on the run. Austin Brashier’s guitar playing is strong here on working against the mambo groove. Wyatt’s piano and Hightower’s harp provide the backing for the down home version of (Get on) Back to the Country.
The Truth sports a funky groove as Arnold notes some rather tell a lie because the truth ain’t good enough, and some are telling rumors ‘trying to break us up,” whereas So Mean to Me, is a late night slow blues that Arnold ably delivers.
The album closes with a fine live version of Get on) Back to the Country, with Hightower playing some solid slide guitar in the vein of Muddy Waters.
Here is Mac Arnold on you tube with Bob Margolin, Kim Wilson, the late Willie Smith.