Review: Manx Marriner Mainline delivers big in debut

Tahoe Onstage

Harry Manx, left, and Steve Marriner with Harry’s hairy friend Bina.

Harry Manx and Steve Marriner have teamed up to put forth a bluesy, gospel-tinged record, “Hell Bound For Heaven,” out April 5. Longtime friends touring together for years, Manx and Marriner decided to document their mentor-prodigy blues brotherhood with a much-overdue album.

I usually don’t do this, but I’m doing it here – let’s skip to Track 8 – a cover of Rev. Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy In This Land.” It’s the best version of this song I’ve ever heard. It’s insane. Delta blues, heady, half-step chromatic switches being hit galore, great singing, weird chord voicing — it’s better than “Live Dead,” which is tough to beat. I’m usually attached and going for the originals. I love covers, but I try to focus on the original songwriting. That said, this cover just crushed me.

Fun fact – there’s not a lot of bass playing on this album, only on three songs. The seemingly minimalist approach does not appear obvious whatsoever. Lead track “Nothing” swings a-plenty with its arrangement, as an example.

“Everybody Knows” feels like modern Peter Green to me (to me, modern is late 1990s). I like it! Groovy. Robben Ford would jam well with these guys.

“Hell Bound For Heaven” kicks a lot of ass. Ominous, brooding, musty. I feel like I’m standing next to an old, termite-infested, abandoned church in “Mysticssippi” (a term used to describe Manx’s guitar playing) watching somebody sell their soul to the devil. Where’s Luther Dickinson?!? Does he know about these guys? Great production, too. Modern, but soooooo vintage, at the same time. Perfect blend. I gotta find the vinyl for these guys… (it’s available on Stony Plain Records).

(Hold on, I just put “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” back on… seriously…)

This album was a real pleasant surprise. Sometimes you pull the slot machine, and it comes up cherries. This was one of those times. I’m gonna give it 4.5 whiskey shots out of 5… except this whiskey is Gentleman Jack.

— Jon Siembieda

  • Manx Marriner Mainline
    ‘Hell Bound For Heaven’
    Label:
    Stony Plain Records
    Release: April 5, 2019

 

About Jon Siembieda

Writer Jon Siembieda plays guitar in the Southern California-based touring rock 'n' roll band Hunter & The Dirty Jacks. He is an avid concertgoer and album collector. His top five favorite bands are The Rolling Stones, Black Crowes, Faces, Mother Hips and Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

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