This is yet another record that makes you shake you head and wonder how many other great musicians are out there, biding their time selling real estate, chauffeuring or working behind the counter at the local pancake house. Louisiana native McClain did all of the above, before and after a couple of minor R&B; hits he had in the mid-'60s. Fortunately, he's one singer who has managed to resurface: This is a stirring album of blues, R&B; and soul music all built on a foundation of gospel intensity. McClain's richly hued voice conjures up the focused wail of B.B. King one minute, the urbane soul of Bobby Bland the next. Most of the songs were written by McClain with members of his band, the two exceptions being Carlene Carter's "Too Proud" and Al Green's "I Feel Good." The standouts tend to be the slow numbers that give McClain's voice time to ruminate over a word or a syllable. When he reaches the word tired in "I'm Tired of These Blues," he musters a soul-deep growl that lets us know he well may be tired of those blues, but he's still got enough fight left to do something about it. His four-man band provides taut backing, built around swirling Hammond B-3 organ lines and fat guitar licks that sound straight outta Memphis. It may not always exhibit the inspired, symbiotic interplay of a group that's been playing and living together for years, but maybe this record will lead to a tour that will give these guys time to work as a unit. As McClain himself puts it in the title of one song, "don't turn back now."
Audioquest Music, P.O. Box 30601, San Clemente, Calif., 92674.