Take two hugely talented solo artists with an impressive roster of releases, bring them together in the studio with quality backing…and listen to the sparks fly. That may seem a mixed metaphor, but it is an accurate description of the finely attuned pair at full throttle.
In case you don’t know the proponents of this new band, Malone Sibun is the venture that brings Innes Sibun and Marcus Malone together to create a strong set of quality blues-rock. Innes Sibun is an established and create guitarist with several solo albums under his belt as well as accompanying Robert Plant on the Fate of Nations tour amongst many activities. Marcus Malone is Detroit born and now based in the UK where he too has had significant success in both recorded and live appearances…he opened for BB King the Albert Hall. A vocalist of power, subtlety and emotion, he has even been compared to the great Paul Rodgers with his soulful, bluesy voice.
Now in 2020, the two have released the descriptively titled Come Together and firmly plant their own star in the blues-rock firmament. They’ve shared the writing and collaborated on a couple too and the opening title track with a vocal statement then a neat snare pattern before the power chords hit and the Hammond backs them up perfectly. A great start that shows both Marcus and Innes at their best and a band in total synch with the aims of every song. It is heavy blues with a slight tinge of gospel/soul courtesy of the multi-tracked chorus and, when you factor in a guitar solo that is inventive and varied, then this is quality with a capital ‘Q’. Next up is the lusty Let Me Love You with a superb riff and slide leading to another marvellous vocal melody and performance. It has a delicate southern rock flavour with the riff and the solo is a carefully crafted masterpiece as Innes traverses the fret board with ease and clarity. I Want You Back is a little more laid back and a soulful blues that Robert Cray took to the limit…but with the strong vocal and some delightful guitar phrasing it is rather better than that comparison may suggest. Taste Of My Love combines mandolins and acoustic guitars in a way that will quickly shed any Zep comments that annoyingly seem to occur anytime someone uses a mandolin…Page didn’t invent it and, as the bridge and solo in particular, delivered by Innes are totally original forget that line. This is a fine varied song that borders on prog but is still firmly rooted in blues. Jodie throws heavy country/blues/rock into the mix in a great way…that may sound strange but the Stones must-have has an influence too and there’s even a bit of Quo in there too as Malone Sibum still manages to remain original.
Another switch in pace as we move into the slow, minor blues territory of I’m So Tired Of Living. This has a similar root, I think, to Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City and its clever guitar behind the vocals (both the lead and rhythm) means this track is different every time I listen to it as the nuances reveal themselves. Imagine Bobby Blue Bland with stinging electric guitar…superb. Lovelight is a ridiculously simple and yet complex song with a riff that is essentially a one-chord err…riff but done with such panache that it takes on a life of its own. The Hammond and ‘soloing’ behind the poppish vocals is excellent and it makes me think of what Marc Bolan would have sounded like if his underrated abilities on guitar was given full reign and he embraced the blues that were always evident in his electric work. Innes’ solo is, once again, inventive and somehow he can do the runs and arpeggios without resorting to shredding…thank goodness. She’s My Girl is next and reflects Marcus’ Motown lineage…if Motown rock ever existed and had the lilting riff overlaid by a slinky slide with catchy pop sensibilities slotted in for good measure and a too short slide solo to make it the full monty.
Another clever melding of influences resulting in something totally original. Rabbit Hole moves us into a kind of Crossroads theme but with a rapid-fire riff and backing making this sound like the result of Dylan paying homage to Johnson but with a better voice and a cracking backing band and soloist who burns the frets again…brilliantly. The final track, Everyday’s A Miracle, links neatly to the first track and again utilises the soul/gospel feel to great effect especially the way the Hammond swirls around it all. It veers a little too much toward soul for me but then the guitar cuts in and plays with the melodies in such an ingenious way that I still found myself loving it.
This then is an album of such range that any blues-rock lover needs in their collection and, believe me, repeated listens just show the depth and skill of the whole band as well as the Malone Sibun duo who shine so brightly that one must hope that this ‘debut’ is only the first because I already want to hear more from these talented musicians.