Down to the Bone – Supercharged

Down to the Bone
(Narada Jazz – 2007)
by Ray Redmond

On Supercharged, Down to the Bone’s seventh disc, the popular British funk ensemble manages to simultaneously beef up its sonic palette, while retaining their characteristically raw intensity. In lesser hands, the addition of the three horns (here, billed as the D.C. Horns) to support Paul “Shilts” Weimar’s scalding tenor saxophone riffs and melodies would extinguish the group’s energetic groove. But the rhythmic engine of drummer Adam Riley, alternating bassists Richard Sadler and Julian Crampton, and guitarist Tony Remy keeps the fire burning.

“This disc has a little bit more of a live, jam-band attitude. I wanted to make it a lot rawer and retro in its feel,” says producer and band creator Stuart Wade. “I thought our music was becoming over-produced. I wanted to take it back to what I was doing in the beginning but injecting a lot more funk and a full-horn section.”

Indeed, Supercharged packs a punch from beginning to end. While echoes of Sly & the Family Stone, Maceo Parker, Tower of Power, Cold Blood, Booker T. & the MGs, and the Average White Band permeate the disc, Down to Bone retains its signature sound with all-out funk grooves. Corrina Greyson and returning collaborator, Hill St. Soul, lend their respective, soulful voices on the contagious, mid-tempo groove “Smile to Shine” and the more aggressive romp, “Shake It Up”.

“Hill St. Soul is very easy to work with,” Wade praises. “Her songwriting and singing really complement our music.” The producer met Greyson through the band’s keyboardist, Neil Cowley, who leads his own jazz trio. “Once I heard her singing at one of her gigs, I knew I had to get her on one of my tracks,” Wade says. “Her voice just suited ‘Shake it Up.-

The entire disc smokes throughout, yet the one track that demands attention is “Electric Vibes,” featuring legendary vibraphonist Roy Ayers. Wade says that it was a lifetime dream to finally collaborate with Ayers. “He’s one of my biggest inspirations. I grew up on his music, even his stuff back with Herbie Mann. I never thought working with him would happen”. With Roy’s influence, “Electric Vibes” has a percolating energy that showcases Down to the Bone’s melodic inventiveness and improvisational fireworks.

This is a jammin CD… check it out.