Shakin' It Up

The Boneshakers - Shake The Planet
(Pointblank Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

Pulling from the deep well-spring of black music The Boneshakers, featuring vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson and guitarist / songwriter Randy Jacobs, mix it up with their seamless blending of 70's funk, dripping soul and rocking R&B sound on their latest album, Shake The Planet.
Both Atkinson and Jacobs cut their musical teeth with the quirky band Was (Not Was) in the 80's. Their stint with that band lasted through the release of numerous albums, international tours and hit singles, including the smash "Walk The Dinosaur", which Jacobs co-wrote with producer and bandleader Don Was. With the exposure they received from their work with Was (Not Was), they both began lucrative session work - Atkinson with artists such as Elton John, Brian Wilson, Bonnie Riatt and Lyle Lovett, and Jacobs lending his guitar work to the likes of Snoop Doggy Dogg, Willie Nelson, Tina Turner and Seal among many others.
The two reunited in 1997 to form their own band, The Boneshakers, and released a solid first album entitled Book Of Spells. Now on their sophomore release Shake The Planet the two have enlisted a tight, energetic band that gets to the core of their funky soul.
With an album filled with hard rocking R&B numbers ("Hand Over Fist, Heart Over Mind", "Water In The Well" and "She's A Heartache"), deep fried funk ("Yesterday's Gone" and "Livin'") and buttery soul ("Compromise, Communicate" and "Teach Me How To Stay") these guys show why they've been in constant demand with their contemporaries.
Atkinson's rich soulful voice ranges from syrupy-smooth to whiskey-soaked raspiness, while Jacobs guitar jumps from a Robert Cray-blues approach to scorching rock-god solo to pimped-up funk at the drop of a lime green velvet hat.
On the bluesy rocker "Hype" Jacobs' infectious stuttering guitar groove is highlighted by Atkinson's gritty pipes and the soul-cleansing gospel warblings of vocalist Portia Griffith. "Ball And Chain" , the album's strongest number, explodes with a roof-raising horn section, pounding R&B rhythm and scorching guitar.
If The Boneshakers continue to produce material of this caliber, it should only be a matter of time before they really do, as their latest title implies, shake the planet.

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