REVIEW: Mick Hayes’ “My Claim to Fame” is Retro Sounds in Captivating Arrangements


Mick Hayes – My Claim to Fame

Providing a solid foundation of retro sounds out of some captivating arrangements – upstate New York-born Mick Hayes mines soul music that was once a consistently lit fuse on the charts. It interestingly sounds motivating & with muscle in 2020. Featuring premium backup singers (Marie Lewey & Cindy Walker) & a heavy dose of horns.

It isn’t anything Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Average White Band or the Ides of March haven’t run up the charts in their heyday. But Hayes doesn’t attempt to rekindle that magic. Instead he smartly tries to polish all its edges & smooth it out for consideration in a new era. Sometimes he succeeds especially on the tunes that are fiery. According to the PR Mick used vintage equipment to capture a warm sound & the tunes do have that magic. What’s different here is that Hayes takes the soul grooves of the 60s & instead of too much soul guitar playing like Steve Cropper he uses a bluesier tone ala, B.B. King. Now that’s a combination.

Hayes doesn’t sing with authority like a David Clayton-Thomas, Otis Redding, or Wilson Pickett but he does have a smooth soul delivery that’s authentic enough to register high on the soul meter. “Parking Lot Romance,” is a stirring cut. The wires are hot on this wonderfully arranged pulsating track. Hayes is somewhat in a Robert Palmer tradition vocally.

The bluesy “My Heart,” is slow but it punctuates with warmth & determination. It’s a sweaty southern farewell from the bottom of a bottle & it certainly sizzles. Excellent fuzz-tone lead guitar from Mick.

The 10-track LP recorded at the classic Muscle Shoals, Alabama studio FAME to recommend it: “My Claim to Fame,” – clever title — (Drops May 29 – Move the Needle). The LP includes a Kim Wilson-type lead vocal on cut 6 with “Ramona.” It smokes with a hot slide guitar & Mick succeeds in sewing a well-balanced diversified collection.

Mick (lead guitar) performs with the proficient Justin Holder (drums), Bob Wray (bass), Clayton Ivey (electric piano & organ), Vinnie Ciesielski (trumpet & flugelhorn), Brad Guin (baritone, tenor sax& flute), Will McFarlane (rhythm guitar), Billy Bargetzi (trombone), & Ken Watters (trumpet).

Mick’s vocals have all the intonation, phrasing & groove to sing these songs with the emphasis required. Fortunately, the lyrics don’t sound too cliched. A little, but not so much to be noticeable. It seems Mick has gone the extra mile to inject originality not only in the melodies & performance but the words too. “No Second Chances,” has that slinky wordplay & a splendid wah-wah guitar solo.

Whether this will find a new audience or not is the question. If it lands in the ears of soul-funk/blues nostalgists Mick could hit the target.

The 34-minute LP was produced & written by Mick Hayes & available at Amazon.


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