Daddy B. Nice's #80 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Put Your Foot In It (w/ O. B. Buchana)"
December 14, 2014: NEW VIDEO ALERT!
Watch Mr. Sam and Gentry-Jones singing "Roll It-Roll It" on YouTube (Mr. Sam is also the dancer in the video).
Listen to Gentry-Jones featuring Mr. Sam on their reggae blast, "The Coolest," on YouTube.
January 4, 2014: Change at the top
Close readers of Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Mr. Sam will notice that "Work Yo Body" has been upended by "Put Yo Foot In It" (featuring O.B. Buchana) at #1 in Daddy B. Nice's Recommended Singles. Here's my justification. In my travels nobody seems to remember "Work Yo Body." "Put Yo Foot In It," although not demonstrably Mr. Sam's signature single, is on the other hand a great crowd-pleaser. I've seen it live in the clubs a couple of times, and the spirited back-and-forth between Sam and O.B. is a true southern soul moment. Sam takes the role of the young man--the learner--with O.B. his guru, but even that works in Sam's vocal favor, making his earnestness and athleticism even more integral to the song. And the song... Is not "put yo foot in it" the most impenetrable and monstrous double-entendre yet devised in southern soul? How did Sam ever come up with it? And yet, the singers alternately sling it like hash or scream it in unison like a cavalry anthem. DBN
To automatically link to Mr. Sam's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other citations on the website, go to "Mr. Sam" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Profile:When the album Lookin' 4 Love hit the air waves in 2007, it heralded the arrival of a fantastic talent, Mr. Sam, up to that point a young Memphis songwriter named Sam Fallie laboring in the shadows of local legends like Larry Dodson, Archie Love, J. Blackfoot and James Alexander.
Lookin' 4 Love was one of the most glorious explosions of pure musicality ever produced on the chitlin' circuit. No awkward attempts at imitation. No journeyman exercises in Southern Soul themes. No derivative hooks or melodies. No mis-steps, as per your average debut. This was music genuinely inspired and channelled through the medium of Sam Fallie, original and better--I'm speaking musically, compositionally--than just about anything out there at the time.
Of the ten tracks on Lookin' 4 Love, four in particular were "monster" tunes--classics, originals, one-of-a-kind's: "Work Your Body," "Dirty South Steppin'," "Since You've Been Gone" and "12 Steps For Cheaters."
In essence a two-steps-to-the-left, two-steps-to-the-right line dance or slide, "Work Your Body" has one of the great bass lines in recent memory, a propulsive, buoyant, follow-the-Pied-Piper hook that begs to be played while driving or dancing.
"Sometimes you need a break.
You've been working hard all day,"
"You've been cussing and fussing,
And you need to get away.
"Relax your troubles
And come relax your mind
And feel the music.
Let it take you for a ride."
Listen to Mr. Sam singing "Work Your Body" on YouTube while you read.
The bass line is especially robust, running up and down the bass clef octave while Mr. Sam's vocal--an alto with a hint of falsetto--glides in the high air of the treble clef. Sam's voice has a delicate trace, but it's never weak like some crooners. There's strength to spare.
"Work your body to the left and slide,
Work your body to the right and slide."
The song morphs into a sexual-slash-gym workout chant, depending on your circumstances, but no chant was ever rendered in more melodic terms.
"Get up on that pony
And look and ride."
Some day I'm going to ask Mr. Sam if he's really saying--
"Get up on that pony
And LOCK and ride."
"Dirty South Steppin'" is an even more explicit line dance ("Here's another line dance," Sam says in the intro). But in fact, no two uptempo songs by the same artist could sound more different.
Gone is the rubber-ball rhythm section of "Work Your Body." In "Dirty South Steppin'" the bass is muffled for a fuller bottom sound. The tempo is slowed down and given a reggae-like rhythm. The result is a magnetic groove. The frosting on the cake is a joyfully-rough background chorus, including alternating male and female backgrounds.
"12 Steps For Cheaters," the showcase ballad from Lookin' 4 Love, received a good deal of air play back in the day, and certainly the most of any of the songs here discussed. Probably more than any other song, "12 Steps For Cheaters" established Mr. Sam as an accomplished Southern Soul balladeer, a reputation he's built upon in subsequent weepers such as "Voice Mail" (2008) and "Picking Up Pieces" (which was written for J. Blackfoot years earlier and re-recorded by Mr. Sam in 2008).
The fourth and last song of the quartet I mentioned as "monster" tunes from Lookin' 4 Love is perhaps the roughest and least known, although it too had its modest share of air play.
"Since You've Been Gone" finds Sam riding that feverish romantic beat of "Work Yo Body" again. Propulsive, clean-and-lean, with a Holmes Brothers-like bass and Motown-style arrangement, "Since You've Been Gone" crams an incredible amount of deep vintage, almost pop-sounding soul into a very quick-running four and a half minutes.
Curiously, as his career has progressed (two albums and an EP since his debut), Mr. Sam hasn't returned to the style of "Work Yo Body" and "Since You've Been Gone," although it could be argued that "Pound For Pound"--from the Voicemail CD--is in that style.
Not counting his top-notch ballads like "Voicemail" (with Floyd Taylor sharing vocals), Mr. Sam's most prominent singles in recent years have been songs that catered to roots, be they roots in the chitlin' circuit or roots in the blues--songs like "Put Yo Foot In It," (a successful and spirited duet with O. B. Buchana) or the bluesy "Put A Little Water With It," Mr. Sam's newest single in 2011, at the time of this writing. Here is what your Daddy B. Nice had to write about the "breaking" single just a few months ago:
Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .
7. "Put A Little Water With It" ---------------Mr. Sam
Long ago, your Daddy B. Nice's mother used to do this--thinning the milk with water to make it stretch for a big family--but it's so long ago she won't admit it, can't remember it, and really dislikes me bringing it up.
A solid, bluesy outing from Memphis' Mr. Sam.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Mr. Sam
Sam Fallie (aka Mr. Sam) was born in and remains a native of Memphis, Tennessee. As a young man Fallie formed and played with a number of local bands, where he caught the attention of Allen Jones, then producer and manager of the Memphis-based, soul-funk group The Bar-Kays.
MR. SAM: Just Like Dat (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished Effort. Should please old fans and gain new.
As a young man Sam Fallie (aka Mr. Sam) formed and played with a number of local Memphis bands, where he caught the attention of Allen Jones, then producer and manager of the Memphis-based, soul-funk group The Bar-Kays. Jones hired Fallie as a writer in 2003, and the young man has come a long way in the decade since, writing, arranging and singing songs for a "Who's Who" of Southern Soul recording acts.
To cite only one example, in 2006 Fallie went to work for an even more iconic Memphis musician (and Bar-Kays alumnus), J. Blackfoot, composing the bulk of the songs on Blackfoot's It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over CD (JEA/Right Now), including the title track. The Blackfoot album--one of his best--also featured a Fallie composition entitled "Picking Up Pieces," which Fallie would record himself as a solo artist years later. Another co-authored Fallie composition from the CD, "I'm Just A Fool For You," became a big hit for J. Blackfoot in two versions, a duet with Lenny Williams and a subsequent duet with Sir Charles Jones.
Fallie made his debut as a solo artist (Mr. Sam) in 2007 with Lookin' 4 Love (Milaja), by any measure one of the most tuneful coming-outs by any Southern Soul artist in contemporary Southern Soul. Featuring a series of radio-friendly tunes including "Work Your Body," "Since You've Been Gone," "12 Steps For Cheaters" and "Dirty South Stepping," Lookin' 4 Love won "Best New Artist Of The Year" awards from both Daddy B. Nice's "Southern Soul RnB" and Blues Critic.
Mr. Sam followed it up in 2008 with VOICEMAIL (Milaja), including Southern Soul hits, "Voicemail," "Picking Up Pieces" and "Pound For Pound." In 2010 he released his third album, LOVE ATTACK (Lifetime Lover). The same year, he recorded an EP, Somebody (Milaja), which included "Put Your Foot In It," the single Sam had recorded with O. B. Buchana in 2009.
Late last year (2012) Fallie signed a contract with Ecko Records, hired new management (the talent-prescient Kim Coles) and published his fourth full-length CD, Just Like Dat. The new collection is far better than 2010's LOVE ATTACK, appreciably better than 2008's VOICEMAIL (which included previously-recorded work), and rivals Fallie's breakthrough debut LOOKING 4 LOVE in material and execution.
Overall, Just Like Dat has a more mainstream sound than LOOKING 4 LOVE. Buffeted by the "winds" of urban R&B, and in Fallie's case the urban-Memphis sounds of his mentors, that's to be expected. "Good Good Love," for example, is pure Bar-Kays in DNA, with Archie Love's guest vocal accentuating the bloodlines. Even the guest vocal of the inimitable O. B. Buchana out of Mississippi blends into the Bar-Kay mix.
Some longtime Mr. Sam devotees may think something is lost when comparing the crisply-produced-and-arranged but somewhat bombastic "Just Like Dat" with the more rough and humble, now classic-sounding "Dirty South Steppin'" from the debut. "Just Like Dat" does boast an immensely likable background chorus, however, a deep, vintage, almost novelty-sounding bass vocal that evokes singing quartets of early R&B.
Many of the songs on this CD were solid Southern Soul radio singles--if not outright hits--in 2012. "Cheatin' Feels So Damn Good" is Mr. Sam at his best. A first-class melody, a confident, lucid arrangement, and a vivid vocal in the tradition of "Voice Mail" and "Picking Up Pieces." Fallie's singing chops don't match, say, someone like the late Reggie P. (to whom, by the way, this CD is dedicated), but they get the job done.
Another radio favorite from 2012, "Put A Little Water In It," contains a bluesy, mid-tempo hook. The vocal arrangement is near-brilliant, three layers--a lead vocal, background vocal and voice-over--vying for attention like overlapping dialogue in a Robert Altman film. "All I Need," another classic-sounding Sam Fallie ballad, is riding the Southern Soul singles charts this winter.
A number of Memphis-area musicians contribute to the CD, including Quinton Smith, Michael Raiford, Kurt Clayton, Frank Ray, the Bar-Kays' Tony Gentry (co-writer of "How Do You Keep,") Ezra Williams (producer EZ Rock), not to mention the previously noted Archie Love and O. B. Buchana.
My favorites from the new CD, at least for the moment, are what most folks would probably consider "B-side" tunes: "Down At Cee Cee's," (a tribute to a notorious Memphis club) and "How Do You Keep," which, with its gorgeous musical textures and searching vocal, is like walking down an unfolding carpet of pure soul. (See Daddy B. Nice's #2 "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles for January 2013.)
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample/Buy Mr. Sam's Just Like Dat CD at CD Universe.
Sample/Buy Mr. Sam's Just Like Dat songs or CD at iTunes.
October 8, 2012: New Album Alert
Order Advance Copy of Mr. Sam's Just Like Dat CD at CD Universe.
Scroll down to "Tidbits #2 to read Daddy B. Nice's 4-star "Distinguished Effort" CD Review.
See Daddy B. Nice's #7 "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for October 2012.
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
Honorary "B" Side
"Dirty South Steppin' "
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