Sam Samudio


Band members                             Related acts

- Domingo Samudio - vocals, guitar, harmonica

 

  supporting musicians:

- Duane Allman (RIP) -- guitar, dobro

- Sammy Creason -- drums

- Jim Dickinson (RIP) -- keyboards, guitar

- Charlie Freeman -- guitar

- Jack Hale -- trombone

- Freddy Hester -- bass

- Roger Hopps -- trumpet

- Wayne Jackson -- trumpet, flugelhorn

- Ed Logan -- tenor sax

- Andrew Love -- sax, flute

- Tommy McClure -- bass

- James Mitchell -- baritone sax

- Mike Utley -- keyboards

 

 

- Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title: Sam Hard and Heavy

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD-8271

Year: 1969

Country/State: US 

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Catalog ID: 2784

Price: $25.00

 

Best known as front man and lead singer for Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, following the band's late-1960s collapse, Domingo "Sam" Samudio signed a solo deal with Atlantic.  Released in 1971, in case you couldn't figure it out from the cover photo with a somewhat ragged Samudio striking a standard born-to-be-wild poise on a nice lookin' chopper, "Sam Hard and Heavy" was a clear attempt to update and modernize his sound and image.  Teamed with producers Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd, the set was quite different from his Sam the Sham garage moves.  Fairly diverse, the ten track offered up a mixture of Samudio originals and interesting covers. Musically the LP bounced all over the spectrum. Relativity' and 'Lonely Avenue' opting for a conventional hard rock sound, while the Tex-Mex 'Don't Put Me On' and bluesy 'Key To The Highway' harkened back to his frat boy roots.  Elsewhere the collection featured support from guitarist Duane Allman ('Going Upstairs' and 'Relativity'), The Dixie Flyers and The Memphis Horns. 

 

"Sam Hard and Heavy" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Homework   (Otis Rush - Al Perkins - D. Clark) - 2:16   rating: *** stars

With classy backing from The Memphis Horns, 'Homework' offered up a nice and greasy cover of the Otis Rush song.  Samudio sounded quite impressive on the track, but even better was the lead guitar (not sure if it was Jim Dickinson or Charlie Freeman).

2.) Relativity   (Domingo Samudio) - 3:14    rating: **** stars

A Samudio original, the rocker 'Relativity' was one of two tracks featuring Duane Allman.  His screeching slide guitar was instantly recognizable and served to kick this one up a notch.  Samudio sounded positively inspired by the company, turning in one of his best performances.

3.) Lonely Avenue   (Doc Pomus) - 2:48   rating: *** stars

I'm normally not a big Doc Pomus fan, but have to admit that this cover of 'Lonely Avenue' was one of the exceptions.  Yeah the female backing vocals were an irritation, but backed again by The Memphis Horns Samudio simply kicked the crap out of this one.  Great guitar solo, though again I don't know if it was Dickinson, Freeman, or Samudio himself.  

4.) I Know It's Too Late   (traditional, arranged by Domingo Samudio) / Starchild   (Domingo Samudio) - 6:20    rating: *** stars

A traditional blues number, Samudio's cover of 'I Know It's Too Late' was competent, but really didn't do a great deal for me, but when the song morphed into Samudio's horn-propelled 'Starchild' the pace picked up and it became considerably more interesting in kind of a Blood, Sweat and Tears fashion.   

5.) Let's Burn Down The Cornfield   (Randy Newman) - 2:43     rating: ** stars  

In 1970 few folks had heard of Randy Newman, let alone were willing to cover anything out of his unconventional catalog.  As such Samudio deserved some notice for being one of the first name artists to do a Newman cover - 'Let's Burn Down The Cornfield'.  That's not to say I particularly enjoyed his acoustic blues cover ...

 

(side 2)

1.) Sweet Release   (W.R. Scaggs - Barry Beckett) - 4:48     rating: ** stars  

Side two started with a Gospel-blues cover of Boz Scagg's 'Sweet Release'.  Samudio certainly gave the song his all, but in pushing it he came off as trying a little too hard.  As such the highlight was the anonymous guitar solo.   

2.) Key To The Highway   (Charles Segar - Willie Broonzy) - 2:08     rating: ** stars  

'Key To The Highway' was an upbeat blues number - competent, but hardly exciting which made it a curious choice for a single.

- 1970's 'Key To the Highway' b/w 'Me and Bobby McGee' b/w '' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2767)

3.) Don't Put Me On   (Domingo Samudio) - 2:30    rating: ** stars  

A Tex-Mex polka effort, 'Don't Put Me On' came as kind of a surprise.  Curiously Samudio sounded out of tune on this one, though the song featured a nice feedback guitar solo ...   

4.) 15 Degrees Capricorn Asc   (Domingo Samudio) - 4:37     rating: ** stars  

'15 Degrees Capricorn Asc' found Samudio returning to horn-propelled rock.  The song was okay, but once again his vocal came off as strained and flat.  

5.) Goin' Upstairs   (John Lee Hooker) - 5:06     rating: ***** stars
Covering John Lee Hooker's 'Goin' Upstairs' as an acoustic blues number wasn't the most original decision, but having Duane Allman provide Dobro was a great choice.  The result was to turn what would have been a mundane cover into a snarling, threatening slice of the blues.  Fantastic cover and my favorite song on the album.

 

A commercial disappointment, the set failed to chart, though Samudio won a Grammy for "Best Liner Notes" (which were hysterical when you sat down and actually read his rather all encompassing ramblings ... 'thank the monkey').  That success was also greeted with interest from the IRS which effectively took all of Samudio's earnings.

 


Samudio getting his Grammy



Over the next decade Samudio all but vanished from the music scene. As Sam the Sham he released a pair of obscure mid-1970s singles for the small Fretone label:

 

- 'Wookie, Part 1' b/w 'Wookie, Part 2' (Fretone catalog number 048)

- 'Ain't No Lie' b/w 'Baby You Got It (Fretone catalog number 049)

 

By the early-1980s Samudio was completely out of the business, working in the Gulf of Mexico as a deck hand on boats running supplies to drilling rigs. He didn't reappear until 1982 when Ry Cooder sought him out as a collaborator on the soundtrack to the film "The Border". Samudio reluctantly agreed to participate, playing organ and contributing a pair of songs to the package ('No Quiero' and 'Palomita').

The mid-1980s found Samudio living in Memphis, Tennessee.  A born again Christian, he was working as a street preacher.

 

He's subsequently gotten back into music and has a nice website at: www.samthesham.com/

 

 

reviewed by SRB August, 2009

 

 


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