By now the knowing soul crowd should know at least a little bit about MARCUS MALONE & THE MOTOR CITY HUSTLERS – a new band marshalled by veterans, Marcus Malone and Dan Smith of the Noisettes. Detroit vocalist, Malone has an impressive CV. He’s previously worked with Mitch Rider’s ‘Detroit Wheels’, hung out with the MC5, and opened for Bog Seger and Iggy Pop. He’s released music on United Artists Records and Motown, producing an all-black original rock band for that label. Then, working the European festival scene, he became a member of London’s All Star Collective and his albums, ‘Stand Or Fall’ and a ‘A Better Man’ have won a plethora of blues awards. Smith had earlier worked with Malone on the albums, ‘Walking Shoes’ (2002) and ‘Blue Radio’ (2003) and as founder of the Noisettes, he’s enjoyed considerable pop success but it’s soul and blues that remain his first loves. Consequently when the duo recently reunited it was a no brainer for them to decide to make some real old school R&B and soul.
We’ve just said up top that by now the “knowing soul crowd should know at least a little bit about them”. That’s because their two singles, ‘Can’t Take The Fight’ and ‘Interstate 75’ have won rave reviews for their raw, honest take on old school soul and funk. Tastemakers like Craig Charles have espoused the tunes… the genial Scouser opining about ‘Can’t Take The Fight’ “If you don’t like this, you don’t deserve ears!”. And now that generous acclaim is sure to grow with the release of a full album.
The LP is named for the single, ‘Interstate 75’ – a brash and brassy, 60s flavoured work out with a sold bass line nicked straight from ‘In The Midnight Hour’ and bluesy guitar work betraying Malone’s roots. The ten tracker offers plenty more unsophisticated , old school flavours. It all begins with ‘Ain’t No Telling’, where the inspiration seems to be the funky, psych soul of Norman Whitfield and Rick James. You might remember that the single, ‘Can’t Take The Fight’ rode a similar groove. Here, enjoy more of the same on ‘Temperature Rising’.
Elsewhere, ‘Hurt Walks Out The Door’ is a preachy, Southern-tinged ballad. ‘Never Gonna Leave You’ is another dramatic “slowie” with biting blues guitar. ‘If You See My Baby’ has blues roots too – though this is a whole lot jauntier while the percussive ‘Other Side Of The River’ owes its loose funk feel to New Orleans. Thus, within what can be a limiting genre, Malone and Smith deliver plenty of variety – old school for sure and full of conviction and commitment.