Tommy Fawkes (Oliver Platt) is a struggling stand-up comedian who has tried for years to get out from under the shadow of his father, George Fawkes (Jerry Lewis), himself a famous humorist. Tommy finally scores a showcase spot at a major resort in Las Vegas, but when opening night rolls around, Tommy's act is an unqualified disaster, with the failure made even more painful by his father's presence in the audience. In search of a fresh start, Tommy heads to Blackpool, England, where he was born and raised, to look for a new act. Hoping to buy material from local performers, Tommy auditions a large number of acts, most of whom are utterly hopeless, until he sees a hilarious vaudeville team, the Parker Brothers. Their act seems more than a bit familiar, however, and Tommy soon realizes that they're doing his father's old material.
A full decade of acid jazz never produced a more stunning fusion of electronic music with live instrumentation than Making Bones. Poised halfway between Sly & Robbie and Roni Size, Red Snapper's first album for a worldwide audience surfs a wave of breakbeat funk that includes nods to dub, punk, soul, drum'n'bass and hip-hop. The rock-steady rhythm section of Richard Thair (drums) and Ali Friend (bass) holds the groove better than any sampler, tying together radically different material like classic British soul on "Image of You," metallic drum'n'bass on "The Sleepless" (with excellent rapping by MC Det) and the fusion update "Bogeyman" (with trumpeter Byron Wallen). It's obvious the Snapper have mastered all aspects of '90s electronic dance, and Making Bones is proof positive.
Although drummer Pete Magadini is the leader of this set (which was reissued on CD in 1996 with a previously unreleased second version of "Freddie Freeloader" added), it is tenor saxophonist Don Menza who really dominates the music. Menza (along with Magadini, pianist Wray Downes and bassist Dave Young) stretches out on such numbers as "Old Devil Moon," "Solar" and his own "Bones Blues," tearing into the music but also showing senstivity on the ballads. Don Menza should really be recorded much more often.
Bare Bones is a mellow, mostly acoustic collection of original and previously recorded Wishbone Ash songs. The only remaining member from the British outfit's '70s glory days, guitarist Andy Powell selected some numbers from the Argus and Wishbone Four years that blend nicely with some late-era compositions. Soft-rocking country tunes like the superior "Hard Times" and "Baby Don't Mind" dominate most of the Bare Bones track list. Classics like "Errors of My Ways" are low on folk/country appeal, but still sound very different than the original recordings. Despite this offering's unique textural quality, Wishbone Ash fans will definitely recognize the easy melodic sense that the band always captured in the studio. For a group so separated in time from their glory years, Powell and company do a remarkable job keeping things fresh on Bare Bones.