Mighty Sam McClain & Knut Reiersrud - Tears of the World

By Lady K
February 2016

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ACT Music, 2015

Mighty Sam McClain was born in Louisiana. He left home when he was 13, and followed Little Melvin Underwood, becoming Little Melvin’s lead vocalist at age 15. Mighty Sam lived in Florida, Nashville, and New Orleans, and then relocated to New England, ultimately settling in New Hampshire in the ‘90s. He’s a Grammy-nominated R&B, soul and blues singer (and songwriter). Sadly, Mighty Sam McClain passed away in June 2015.

Knut Reiersrud is out of Norway, and not as well-known in the New England area as Mighty Sam. According to his bio, “problems arise when you try to explain what kind of guitarist he is. A man who always travels around with eight guitars because they have been tuned differently according to where the music comes from is versatility personified”.

Both are famous ‘round the world, and fit into several genres of music – especially blues, soul and R&B (and ain’t we the lucky ones?).

The players: Mighty Sam McClain (vocals); Knut Reiersrud (guitar, harmonica, piano, vocals); Bjorn Holm (guitar); David Wallumrod (keyboards); Nikolai Haengsle Eilertsen (bass); Andreas Bye (drums); Hakon Kornstad (saxes and flute); Martin Horntveth (timpani and tubular bells); Tuva Faerden, Maja Gravermoen Thoresen, Jon Hjellum Brodal, Ashild Breie Nyhus, Anders Rensvik (strings); Chelsea Lanham, Phylisha Mitchell, Rebeka Gordon, Sara Gordon, and Kelvin King (background vocals).

This is a thought-provoking collection of blues and soul, delving deep into life, love, and feeling.

Covers include: “Tears of the World” and “I Wish I Had a Girl Like You” (Willie Hale); “Please Mr. Foreman” (Joe Lee Carter); and “Too Proud” (Carlene Carter). Oh, and one other cover is “Que Sera, Sera” (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans). Yeah, it’s the same familiar song – same lyrics, but absolutely nothing like that version made famous by Doris Day. It’s totally different and totally amazing. This is a slow, slow version and it’s gorgeous

Knut Reiersrud wrote some of the tracks: “Jewels” (written with Erik Hillestad) is a slow love song about her eyes: “Polished by wings of angels and lighted by glittering stars /Two jewels – your eyes asking me to be their mirror / How can I refuse?” (sigh ).

Several tracks were written by Reiersrud and Jeff Wasserman.

The mid-tempo “Living in the Key of G” describes a path through life: “Don’t believe in human blindness / I believe we’ve found our way / We’ll wake up before it’s too late”. The mid-tempo “Apples (Don’t Fall Far from the Tree)” is a testament to the fact that people change (for good or not so good) and a warning to men looking for love – “Just look at her mamma, that’s how she’s gonna be – you got to love what she is inside.” There’s also a lovely slow number called “The Promised Land”.

Mighty Sam penned a few tunes himself. The mid-tempo tune “Friends” (along with Pat Herlehy) is about the meaning of life and the meaning of friends . . . and of dying. There’s some fantastic guitar happening in the slow-tempo “Somebody Help Me” (with George Papageorge); about being lost in life, and it’s Mighty Sam, questioning life itself – “How many roads must I travel down before I find my way / I’ve been out here so long, 13 years old when I left home.”

“Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” (also with Papageorge), is up-tempo and rather than questioning life, provides some guidance – “Things ain’t what they used to be, and they never will ever be again / We got to keep on keepin’ on / Today is the day of salvation, don’t let it slip away”.

Lady K believes the tracks written by Mighty Sam McClain all seem to have messages that Mighty Sam included to share what he’d learned about life and loving, with his fans and future fans. It ‘feels’ as though they were written knowing that he wouldn’t be around much longer. Thank you Mighty Sam McClain. You are loved, you are missed, and you will always be remembered – Tears of the World ensures that.


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