Supersonic Blues Machine (SBM) are claimed by their fan base to be ‘the ultimate rock, blues and soul’ jam band. All the musicians involved have been around the block more than once and they came together in 2015 to form SBM. Since then they’ve released two studio albums and this, their first ‘live’ album, Road Chronicles, was recorded in Italy on their ten date 2018 jaunt across Europe and it’s a joyous celebration of the spirit of the music they love. There’re so many different influences on this album but they meld together joyously. This kind of music can only be played effectively if it’s performed by musicians who, at their very core, love the blues, and everyone here satisfies the criteria.
At the outset it should be noted there’s absolutely nothing original on this album. SBM are simply following where many have gone before, but what they add to the music is a style and a swagger which lifts it up. This is evident when they play a blues standard like Elmore James’ classic, ‘Dust My Broom’. It’s an easy song to play and there can be very few musicians in bands of this genre who didn’t cut their teeth learning their craft with songs like this, but SBM handle it with great skill and give the song the respect it deserves.
The tracks on the album include three from their debut album, ‘Watchagonnado’, ‘Remedy’ and ‘Running Whisky’ and from their Californisoul album, they give us ‘I’m Done Missing You’, ‘Broken Heart’ and ‘Elevate’. Remedy is very reminiscent of the Allman Brothers and is a slow, soulful tune, which is why the guitar histrionics sound out of place. Another slow tune, and possibly the best track on the album, is ‘Let It Be’ (no, not that one) with its delightfully understated keyboard backing and sensitive guitar work.
But it’s when Texan blues royalty Billy Gibbons takes the stage where things go up a notch. Not for nothing did Hendrix say Gibbons is a damn fine guitarist and, when he “does that thing,” ‘La Grange’ begins with a groove to end them all. Few players make blues guitar sound better than Gibbons and he’s a master at showing what can be done with just a few well played notes, rather than endless runs up a fretboard. When he sings and plays SBM’s ‘Running Whisky’ it makes the listener realise ZZ Top haven’t done anything this good for quite some time now.
If you’re in the market for some solid bluesy rock, and you like the Allmans and Skynyrd, this could well be an album for you.