Timothy McNealy: A Lighter Shade of Green

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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "I'm So Glad That You're Mine"
  • Artist: Timothy McNealy
  • CD: Various Artists, Fallin' Off the Reel, Vol. 2
  • Genre: Soul
Timothy McNealy 300

Timothy McNealy performs a transcendent, refreshingly unadorned cover of Al Green's "I'm So Glad That You're Mine." courtesy of Timothy McNealy hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of Timothy McNealy

Until Brooklyn's Truth and Soul label recently reissued Timothy McNealy's "I'm So Glad That You're Mine," most of what anyone knew of this Dallas funk and soul veteran was as an instrumentalist. In the late '60s, the keyboardist had been a member of Bobby Patterson's Mustangs band, but he broke out solo in 1970 and formed the Shawn label. His output on Shawn was meager, but when funk collectors discovered singles such as "Sagittarius Black" and "K.C. Stomp," they clamored for one of the scarce original copies. Strangely, though, the one single to actually feature McNealy's vocals would go relatively ignored. In 1972, he released a single with a cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" on one side and this remarkable version of Al Green's "I'm So Glad That You're Mine" on the flip.

Covering Al Green can be a tricky proposition: His music and voice are so distinctive that it can be hard for another artist to distinguish himself with the same material. What works so well about McNealy's approach is that rather than dressing up (and thus weighing down) the arrangement, he relies on little else besides a guitar, an acoustic piano, drums, and some backup singers.

Likely because McNealy wasn't recording in a state-of-the-art studio, a big part of the song's charm comes from its lo-fi aesthetic. His rich but unadorned tenor adds to that; he's not trying to out-sing the good Rev. Green and his legendary falsetto. Instead, McNealy sounds content with executing the vocal arrangement with a loyalty to the original, and doesn't put any more on it than there needs to be.

The net effect is intimate, as if this were recorded in a small bar to just a handful of people. It also recognizes the inherent, sublime lightness of Green's original — McNealy re-creates that crucial, quiet rapport here, too. To quote one of Green's other classics: simply beautiful.

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