In an impressive career spanning more than four decades, Marlon L. McClain
(also known as “The Magician”) has produced, arranged, performed on, or
written songs for artists including Kenny G., En Vogue, Toni Braxton,
George Clinton, George Benson, Ronnie Laws, Jeff Lober, Swing Out Sister,
Brandy, Maurice White, Tower of Power, and Joan Baez, resulting in his
name having been associated with records that have sold a combined more
than 50 million copies worldwide.
From 1972 – 1980 McClain was a member and guitarist for Portland,
Oregon-based group Pleasure, which was known for being a risk-taking,
horn-driven band that often brought jazz overtones to its funk/soul /rock
foundation, McClain helped lead the band to a Top Ten Billboard R&B hit
with “Glide,” Pleasure’s biggest hit in 1979
In1981, McClain released his first solo record, Changes, on Fantasy Records, before coming a well-sought producer and songwriter. It would be nearly thirty years, in 2010, when he released the follow-up album, TBD (Lucky Records/Mac Man Music).
Now he is preparing the release of his third solo album, TBC (To Be
Continued), also on Lucky Records/Mac Man Music.
Written and produced by McClain, and featuring performances by Al Turner
(bass), Soul Persona. (drum programming, keys), Thomas McElroy (keys,
percussion), Jeff Lorber (keys), Ken Sato (drum programming), and Curtis
Salgado (harmonica), the nine-track album doesn’t miss a beat, picking up
where TBD left off, while still staying true to the roots of Changes.
A fusion of jazz, funk, and rock, TBC opens with the steamy “Me & You,” a
bona-fide jazz-funk late-night booty-shaker, while “Positivity” makes you
sweat with its sweaty groove and soothing vocals.
“Radiation Blues” finds the album getting into some greasy, powerful
blues-rock. And “Where Are You” displays McClain’s ability to get tender,
without losing the energy and groove muscle behind his songwriting.
“Step Into The Light” is another get-out-of-your-seat-and-shake-it dance
numbers, “Tokyo Time” is all blues and jazz sitting in perfect harmony,
and album closer “You Know” brings the R&B to the party.
For an artist that has produced and written some of the biggest names in
various genres, McClain’s subtle, yet earnest detail to songwriting and
production shows on TBC, offering up a collection of songs that pay homage
to their respective roots, while also sounding fresh and current,
something McClain has always been ahead of his time on.
Here is a collection of songs that undoubtedly prove why “The Magician”
earned his moniker, and that the years between solo records hasn’t
lessened his skills or passion, just helped him find his desire once again
to create uplifting, moving records that make you want to dance and feel.
And, feeling is what McClain’s music is all about.