The release of a new Sam Moore solo album is big news in itself. After all, Plenty Good Lovin’, which the soul legend recorded in the early 1970s sans longtime singing partner Dave Prater, didn’t see the light of day until 2002.
But Moore’s Overnight Sensational, released in August 2006 via Rhino, also happens to feature an all-star roster of duet partners and backing musicians. Bruce Springsteen, Steve Winwood and Paul Rodgers, among others, sing with Moore. Instrumentally, the roster includes Eric Clapton and Robert Randolph, as well as Billy Preston, who died roughly two months before the CD’s release.
Handling production duties was another big name: Randy Jackson, best known to mainstream America as one of the three American Idol judges.
Recently, the 71-year-old Moore talked with Goldmine about his new CD, his good friend Preston and other subjects.
Goldmine: On Overnight Sensational, your singing voice still sounds very much like it did back in the 1960s. Do you follow a regimen to keep it in shape?
Sam Moore: Maybe I should, but I don’t. I don’t abuse it, but I don’t do anything special. The only thing I do is, when I know I have to do a job, I just shut my mouth and rest.
GM: Of the guest singers on your new album, who impressed you the most?
SM: Everyone who chose to come aboard, I knew they could sing. But if there’s anyone who did something amazing that made me say, “I don’t believe this,” that would be Mariah Carey. She hit this [really high] note. I sent a message to her through Randy that only dogs can hear that [laughs]. It was amazing to hear her hit something way past where she usually hits.
GM: Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
SM: I like “If I Had No Loot” because it’s fun and it’s real bouncy and it’s a far cry from the things I’ve done, like “Soul Man” and all that stuff. It’s really nightclub-friendly and hip-hop-friendly.
GM: Given his health at the time, were you surprised Billy Preston was able to contribute what he did?
SM: Oh, no. I’m not just blowing smoke here: Billy at 50 percent could be better than some people at 100 percent. I was not surprised when he came in to do his thing. I was sitting there watching through the glass from the engineering room. I looked out there, and yeah, he was sick, but he was kickin’ butt! So, no, I wasn’t surprised.
GM: Was there anyone you tried to get to appear on Overnight Sensational but couldn’t, for whatever reason?
SM: Not instrumentally. Basically, that was Randy’s department because he knew all of these musicians. And most of these musicians he got, to tell you the truth, in their own right they’re producers. And for those guys to come in and listen to him tell them what he wanted — what it told me was, “Wow, this man really knows what he’s doing.” They had respect for Randy Jackson.
GM: On American Idol, Randy can be critical without being cruel. How was it working with him?
SM: He did the same thing. Randy is not afraid to challenge: If you’re flat, he’ll tell ya — without having to scream or embarrass you or anything like that. If he couldn’t get it that night and knew that it was going to get worse instead of better, he’d (end the sess