A Band Called Sam – Legacy
Highlander Records – 2020
9 tracks; 42.11 minutes
Sam ‘Bluzman’ Taylor had a long career, playing with Joey Dee & The Starlighters in the 60’s, writing for Sam & Dave at the start of their career and acting as musical director for Otis Redding, The Drifters and The Isley Brothers. In his later years he lived in New York where he and his band played regularly until his passing in 2009. All the songs here were written by Sam, the album a tribute to Sam from the members of his last band, including daughter Sandra Taylor (a vocalist in her own right) and grandson Lawrence ‘LAW’ Worrell on guitar/vocals (Lawrence has played with Parliament and Amy Winehouse, amongst others): Angela Canini adds vocals to three tracks, Mario Staiano is on drums, Gary Grob on bass, Danny Kean on keys/synth horns and Sam’s protégé Gary Sellars on guitar. Richie Cannata from Billy Joel’s band is featured on sax and recorded the material at his studio, clearly a labour of love as it took nine years to complete!
We are generally in funky blues territory here with catchy tunes like “Hole In Your Soul” and “Nothing In The Streets” while “Next In Line” is a smooth 70’s style soul piece with Sandra and Angela sharing vocal leads. Lawrence sings and plays the wah-wah guitar on “Good To Ya” which warns that “everything that’s good to ya ain’t always good for ya” and also takes the lead on “The Stinger”, an autobiographical piece based round Sam’s birth sign (Scorpio). The slow “Mother Blues” has a strong vocal from Sandra and plenty of space for the band to shine while “Devil In Your Eyes” is an upbeat shuffle, again with shared vocals from Sandra and Angela. Rather the outlier here is “Funny”, a 1961 hit for Maxine Brown who reprises the ballad impressively, swapping verses with Angela on a classic torch song with a lovely sax break from Richie. The opening track “Voice Of The Blues”, with bright guitar and great horns, may just be the pick of this worthy tribute to a relatively unsung hero.