The Stone MG’s make music that sits at the point where rock muscle meets soul sass. Vocally it tips its hat to a Motown vibe and musically a bluesy, urban rock and roll and the whole package feels as if it has just stepped out of a 60’s revue show. But that is not to say that there is anything dated or unfashionable about the sound that they make as such iconic grooves have never gone out of fashion. Rather the sound is timeless and so is both wonderfully nostalgic and bang up to date at the same time.
Over an infectiously straight forward bass run Rodney James’ compelling voice calls out with equally measures of worldly experience and raw, heart felt emotion, gradually being joined by slashing guitars who have to do little more than underline and highlight, sultry sax that weaves through into the spotlight and textured backing vocals. It’s a lesson in knowing just how much or rather how little sonic material you need to build an effective song. Less clever bands wouldn’t understand that it is all about economy, that from the simple but perfect drum patterns upwards it isn’t about serving the ego but instead is about serving the song, something that this is a masterclass in. It is the space, the slow build and the restraint that actually makes the song seem bigger, more powerful, land more effectively. Less is indeed more! Who knew? Well, The Stone MG’s for one.
And whilst you have a platform, you may as well say something worthwhile and here the band are talking about addiction, about the journey you make as it takes over your life, distorts, tricks and isolates you. It’s a subject matter driven home all the harder thanks to those impassioned vocals and a stark and poignant video.
It’s the sound that echos all of those great bar bands of the 60’s and 70’s who took the spirit of soul and rocked it up, the grassroots melting pot that ended up producing the likes of The E Street Band and The Asbury Dukes on one side of the Atlantic, The Average White Band and Dr Feelgood on the other. That same blend of the powerful with the emotive, the seismic with the seductive is at work here and it is an evocative mix for sure. Rock fans will love the urges and drive that form the engine of this musical vehicle and soul aficionados will admire the sleek lines of its finish. If that isn’t the best of both worlds then I don’t know what is.