Mighty Sam McClain, Time and Change: Last Recordings (City Hall)

reviews.SamMcClainAs the title indicates, former New Orleans resident “Mighty” Sam McClain is sadly no longer with us. He was a vocalist with an impressive deep soul pedigree, via tough 1960s singles like “Sweet Dreams,” “Bad Mouthin’,” “I Who Have Nothing” and “Good Humor Man.” Unfortunately, McClain fell on hard times after the classic period of soul waned, and he eventually found himself musically inactive. He drifted for nearly a decade. After resurfacing in the Crescent City during the mid-1980s, McClain’s career was revived via gigs at the 544 Club and stellar recordings on the Orleans and Black Top labels. With his career back on track, thanks to a global R&B revival, McClain eventually resettled in New England where he would record prolifically and tour extensively (60 countries). Like his more recent CDs on AudioQuest, Time and Change is a highly personal and an honest statement. McClain produced and arranged this CD and co-wrote all but one song. He even wrote a portion of the liner notes. Even at 72, McClain retained the mighty voice one heard on those scratchy Amy/Bell 45s. That’s evident on the opening track, “Let’s Talk,” which sports an attractive, choppy, mid-tempo groove. The same can be said for the title track, “You Broke My Heart” and “Here I Come Again.” As introspective as most of this CD is, “Around Every Corner” and “Touch Somebody” are old-school, absolutely playful and superb. Outside of that, this set really covers a wide musical scope. Of course R&B dominates but there are also noticeable traces of hip-hop, reggae, gospel and jazz in the arrangements. However, the overriding plus on this release is McClain’s majestic voice, which sadly has now been silenced.