Mighty Sam McClain

One More Bridge to Cross

Vocalist Sam McClain had a 100,000-seller back in 1966 with his version of the Patsy Cline hit “Sweet Dreams.” A few years later he hit bottom and was out of music for 15 years. A guest appearance on a Hubert Sumlin album led to other opportunities and a career revival. Since then he’s recorded 10 well-received albums under his own name—the last two on TelArc—and has started his own label with this CD.

McClain began by singing gospel, as did B.B. King and Bobby Blue Bland, his major influences, and that urge to testify marks his music today. His big, warm voice resonates with honesty and compassion as he sings of life’s tribulations and joys. Backed by a seven-piece band, which includes three horns, McClain celebrates love on almost every song. On the groove-drenched “Witness” (“I’m a witness for love”) he urges us to “open up your heart and let love in.” On “Been There, Done That” he confesses, “I’ve been in love a time or two,” and, on the lilting “Don’t Leave Me Behind” (with some stunning back-up help) he pleads with his baby not to go.

Not wishing to be pigeonholed as an artist—although calling him a soul/blues man seems accurate—he once said, “Don’t put me in no category. I’m a universal person.” Now 60, he’s still in peak form.