Malone Sibun

2020

I was keen to hear this band’s debut recording as I own all of Innes Sibun’s dozen previous CD’s, but I also wanted to learn more about Marcus Malone, who has managed to fly largely under my radar. Innes (whose surname rhymes, more or less, with Simon, I believe) is a gritty Blues/Rock lead and slide guitarist, whose work would appeal to fans of Rory Gallagher, whereas Marcus’ vocals (he restricts himself to rhythm guitar here) appear to lean towards Soul and Funk as much as they do towards Blues or Rock, so I was curious to hear how successfully their styles would combine.

Innes is, of course, adept at supporting vocalists, having worked with Robert Plant many years ago and most recently with Sari Schorr (before ceding the guitar role in the latter band to Ash Wilson) and he shows up well in the lyrically rather repetitive title track which opens proceedings. The rhythm section, which includes Stevie Watts on keyboards and Roger Inniss on bass (drummer Chris Nugent is a new name to me), is also quickly into its groove.

Malone’s ‘Let Me Love You’ is described in the release notes as a crossover between Dave Grohl and Paul Rodgers, but I didn’t really feel those influences. Similarly I didn’t hear the alleged Curtis Mayfield influence in Sibun’s ‘I Want You Back’, although it is the stronger song of the two for me. Likewise the Malone penned ‘Taste Of Your Love’, which adds Massimiliano Guidi on acoustic guitar as Innes switches briefly to mandolin, pales a little in comparison with the trio of Sibun compositions which follow it.

The first of those three songs, ‘Jodie’, is in a Country Rock vein, although the Rolling Stones are the stated vibe, while the slow minor Blues ‘I’m So Tired Of Living’ features some trademark Sibun guitarwork and is, for me, the best song on the album. ‘Lovelight’, which Innes wrote several years ago in Mostar, Bosnia, has a more radio friendly hook, perhaps a little like some of Whitesnake’s later work.

Malone’s ‘She’s My Girl’ is described in the promotional notes as Motown meets the MC5 (a concept I’m still struggling with, even after repeated listens!), but I can hear the influences of the Stones and the Faces (perhaps it’s the repeated “ooh, la, la” refrain…) more clearly in this good time rocker.

The penultimate track ‘Rabbit Hole’ wasn’t intended for this album, but Innes persuaded Marcus to include it and contributed some great guitar to make it one of the stronger songs in the set. Indeed, for me, it would have made a stronger album closer than the funkier ‘Everyday’s A Miracle’ (confusingly the promo notes refer to “Stevie Watts’ beautifully understated gospel lines”, yet states elsewhere that he is replaced by Moz Gamble on this song), which has its own charm, as well as overtones of the Isley Brothers.

So all in all a nice listen, with Innes’ compositions faring best to these ears after the first few auditions, and definitely a band that I’ll hope to hear in a live setting (the album launch gig will be at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton on Saturday 15th February).

Gary Smith

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