Despite the fact that the previous year's album The Jealous Kind charted at number 34, and that Delbert McClinton used a similar approach to Plain from the Heart, it topped at a disappointing number 181. Perhaps it's the fact that McClinton had been out on the road working his ass off with a crack band for a year and didn't have as much time to carefully consider the material choices. Where The Jealous Kind was a blend of soul and R&B variations that included basic rock & roll and country, Plain from the Heart relied heavily on hard R&B standards and material. It's a much funkier album than The Jealous Kind, but its drive is caught in third gear the entire time. There's not a weak song here, but neither is there a "Shotgun Rider" or "Givin' It Up for Your Love." Two covers -- "In the Midnight Hour" and "Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)" -- were surprising choices in that they'd been done so often that, while McClinton's versions are meaty enough and shovel out the grit, they add little new to these nuggets. Two Frankie Miller tunes come closer: "Heartbreak Radio," a solid rocker with killer horn work fill around in the vocals from the pocket, and "A Fool in Love," with its jagged guitar lines snaggling around the verses while becoming punchy chorded riffs in the refrains. The best cuts here are McClinton's own contributions, the steamy bluesified "I Wanna Thank You Baby," with stinging Jimmy Johnson guitar lines, and "Sandy Beaches," written with John Jarvis. It's a slow to mid-tempo soul groover; gorgeous Barry Beckett keyboard work underlines McClinton's best vocal on the set. Chuck Willis' "I Feel So Bad" is wonderfully reinterpreted by McClinton here, turned into a greasy funky groover instead of the desperate moaner it was originally. The set closes with Jerry West's "Rooster Blues," and while it's an acceptable Joe Turner-styled blues shouter, it's a surprising choice for the album, let alone as its closer. But this is quibbling. In all, Plain From the Heart is prime McClinton and deserved a hell of a lot better than it got in the marketplace at the time.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek