The Boneshakers – One Foot In The Groove
Take It To The Bridge Records
10 songs – 41 minutes
The Boneshakers’ 25-year career has seen them experience many highs (not least their recent collaborations with the magnificent Mindi Abair) and several lows (perhaps most obviously the death of original singer, Sweet Pea Atkinson, in 2020). One Foot In The Groove however is a glorious, life-affirming celebration of their blues-infused funk and rock.
Produced by John Wooler and recorded at Steakhouse Studio in North Hollywood, CA, the new album contains 10 tracks of funky blues-rock that bear repeated listening. The current line-up comprises original guitarist, Randy Jacobs, vocalist Jenny Langer (ex-Moonshine Society), Jon Gilutin on keyboards, Nathan Brown on bass and Sergio Gonzales. Together, the musicians have played with a veritable Who’s Who of modern blues and soul, including Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Coco Montoya and Keb’ Mo’. They also lay down a series of irresistible grooves that support and highlight Langer’s superb voice. In addition, the album features guest appearances from the Texacali Horns (Joe Sublett and Mark Pender), Coco Montoya on guitar, and Bernard Fowler and Sir Harry Bowens on backing vocals.
One Foot In The Groove contains two self-written songs (the Jacobs/Langer funk-blues of “Big Legged Man” and Jacobs’ spikey closer, “Powerful Notions”, which has a typically top drawer solo from Montoya, nicely contrasting with Jacobs’ more funky sensibilities), together with a variety of well-chosen covers. While The Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend The Night Together” may be exceptionally well-known, it’s great to hear a re-working of William Bell’s 1968 soul gem, “I Forgot To Be Your Lover” with superb vocals from Fowler in a duet with Langer. Likewise, “Mr. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” was originally written by Jacobs’ old band, Was (Not Was), with Bob Dylan, and the re-working makes a fine choice as opening track on the album. Some of the re-interpretations are also quite striking: Donnie Fritts’ title track removes the original’s country influences and replaces them with funk and blues. “Let’s Spend The Night Together”, by contrast, is played relatively close to the original.
Highlights abound, from Jacobs’ wah-wah solo in “I Am The Blues” to Langer’s vocal on Steve Van Zandt’s “Ain’t Got The Fever No More”, where she combines vulnerability with assertion and grit, perfectly rendering the lyrics. Gilutin’s keyboards on French soul singer Sophie Baudry’s “Ice Cream And Cigarettes” are a delight. As are the contributions of the Texacali Horns, adding swinging emphasis to tracks like “More, More, More” and “Mr. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”.
But this is not an album where individual musicians take solo after solo. What is perhaps most striking is the ease with which the musicians wear their virtuosity, focusing entirely on the song and delivering each track with emotional depth and sincerity.
If you like your blues with a heavy dose of Detroit funk, a little Memphis Soul and a dash of rock, you will find much to enjoy on One Foot In The Groove. A very impressive release.