Marlon McClain – TBC There are a few folks in the music industry that seem to always be busy and plugged into many diverse projects, and Marlon L. McClain is a shining example of this. After cutting his teeth in Portland, Oregon’s favorite funk band of the 1970s’, Pleasure, he had a stint with the Dazz Band before demand for his writing and producing sent him behind the stage. After many successes with artists as diverse as George Clinton, Tower of Power, George Benson, Kenny G and Joan Baez, he is finally back to making his own music for us to enjoy. Over the past four decades, McClain has only had time to record three solo discs: Changes in 1981, TBD in 2010, and this year’s release, TBC. Marlon wrote all nine songs on this latest self-produced album, and he also took care of the guitars and keyboards. Al Turner laid down the bass lines, Thomas McElroy played the keyboards, and the drum parts were all handled electronically, with programming by McClain, McElroy, Soulpersona, and Ken Sato. Do not get the impression that this is some sort of 1980s beat box album, though – the drums sound real and are spot on throughout. The tracks are mostly instrumentals with vocals added here and there as needed to accentuate the action, including the opener, “Me & You.” This is a super-funky tune with jazz influences that shows what a masterful guitarist Marlon is, and his playing is as smooth as silk. Guest artist Curtis Salgado brought his harmonica in for this song, and he does a fabulous job of mimicking McClain’s lines, so that at times it sounds like there are two guitars playing. After listening to the rest of the tracks, it would be difficult to categorize this record into any one genre, as there is a little bit of everything, but if you dig deep enough there a foundation of funk for all of them. The most divergent song from the blues would be “Positivity,” a bouncy dance track with a disco groove and tightly intertwined guitar/vocal lines. You will also find that “Step into the Light:” is quite danceable, though at a slower and sultrier pace. Blues-rock is represented in the mix, too, with the harder-hitting “Radiation Blues” which has minimal vocals, round bass, tons of high hat, and smoking guitar from McClain. This is a marked contrast from “That Ain’t Right,” which is more of a loose funky jam session, with a cool give and take between Marlon and Turner’s killer bass lines – it is almost like the whole song was built over a bass solo, which is not something you will find on your average blues album. There are fairly drastic changes of pace and feel from track to track. For example, “Tokyo Time“ is smooth and jazzy with a laid-back vibe, and then the listener is hit with “GWUWGWUN.” This song has a lot plenty going on, besides a lot of consonants and an unpronounceable title. Marlon’s guitars are up front in this fast-paced tune, but there is also a lot of synthesizer work with simulated flute and trumpet patches, and all of this is playing all over a popping and funky bass line. Both of these instrumentals are catchy and could get stuck in your head for days, which is not a bad thing in this case. see full review here http://www.bluesblastmagazine.com/issue-8-52-december-25-2014/
Throughout the 1970s, Portland-based octet Pleasure tastily intermingled elements of jazz, funk, and R&B into a kinetic fusion culminating with the top-10 signature hit, "Glide." While each member also exhibited talents on a number of outside projects, guitarist Marlon McClain has remained the most prolific on record since the group disbanded. The versatile player worked with The Dazz Band for nearly a decade and also wrote and produced for the likes of En Vogue and Kenny G before shifting his focus to a solo career. Connoisseurs of the groove still relish his first individual outing, 1981's Changes; but it was with 2010's TBD that he came into his own as a frontman, spearheading the writing, production, and primary instrumental duties. Continuing to employ the smoothly rippled contemporary jazz vibes found on TBD, but also throwing in a healthy serving of brasher funk riffs, the newly released TBC compellingly exposes McClain's abilities as both a rock-influenced leader and cool soul man. There are even some cases, as in the intriguingly titled "Gwuwgwun," where both tendencies meet and result in the kind of jams in which both purists and cutting-edge types can revel. But it's the spitfire nature of numbers like the opening "Me & You" and the gutsy "Radiation Blues" that most strongly evoke the emotional voice of his axe. Bearing the influence of Johnny "Guitar" Watson, "Me & You" at once stimulates and relaxes through its percolating rhythm arrangement and McClain's thoughtfully electric plucking. "Radiation Blues" is sprinkled with a Hendrix sensibility, enhanced by steady but subtle keyboard work and light vocal flourishes. Fans who especially took to breezy tunes like "Come On" and "Dreaming of You" on TBD will find similarly pleasurable moments in the softly pulsating "Step into the Light" and the chilled-out "Where Are You" on TBC. The sliding wah-wah scales of the latter seep unassumingly and deliciously over a laid back beat pattern in a mode that conveys imagery of oceanic landscapes and the feeling of a quiet evening by firelight. Meanwhile, the former hooks the ears quickly with tightly accented percussive sounds balancing McClain's legato stylings. For those looking to relive a bit of the gliding funk, the jam session found in "That Ain't Right" (featuring Thomas McElroy on keys) should do the trick. Over the span of nine tracks, TBC traverses a colorful road of styles and textures that fit together snugly without trying too hard—or without coming loose along the way. Even the outright dance flow of the fast-paced "Positivity"—with its pairing of airy chords and concise vocal melodies—is right in the pocket with both the softer selections and harder-hitting numbers. The end result is a soothing and impelling album that's a solid listen any time, any place. Recommended. by Justin Kantor
What do Kenny G., En Vogue, Toni Braxton, George Clinton, George Benson, Brandy, Maurice White and Tower of Power all have in common? All have worked with Marlon “The Magician” McClain, a guitarist, producer and arranger with a history as one of R&B’s best. Marlon was first known as part of the 1970s R&B band Pleasure (remember “Glide”?) and he has been making great music with others ever since. Marlon is now putting his name on the front of the album, with his upcoming disc, TBC. And we’re proud to be debuting the lyric video for the funky first single from the album, “Positivity.” Take a listen to “Positivity” below and tell us what you think about the return of this R&B master.
Listening to new music by Lilla D Mone, as well as Curtis Salgado and producer songwriter Wirlie Morris
Listening to Trombone Shorty and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings.. also checking out live videos on the Doo Doo Funk All-Stars....
I am in the studio listening to ruff tracks from the upcoming Curtis Salgado album, which I am co producing with Tony Braunagel ...of the Phantom Blues Band.
In the studio listening to tracks and feeling good