Shake The Walls is the third full-length album from British rocker Marcus Bonfanti. The record is an eclectic melting pot of all things bluesy, country and rock and judging from the terrific sound, will hopefully help the hard travelling, guitar virtuoso and his band of wandering minstrels surpass the recognition they have already received, transcending the small gig circuit into the realms of Rock and Roll fame.
Opener Alley Cat is the perfect way to kick off Bonfanti’s coming of age album as the song effortlessly manages to embody the record’s very title. Rooted firmly in the band’s pre 1960’s blues/rock influences from across the Atlantic, Bonfanti’s trademark, husk laden vocal and voracious appetite for a string melting riff state the troubadour’s intentions for the ensuing tracks as we are treated to a real foot stomper of a number that includes explosive bouts of Little Walter esque harp wails and deft, sonorous slides on the electric guitar. Coupled with a catchy, and typical, blues/rock lyric the tune bares a contemporary resemblance to the electric Chicago sounds kicked out by Muddy Waters and co at Chess records many moons ago.
Second track Cheap Whisky, like many others that made the cut for Shake The Wall, seems to reflect life as a young, travelling Rock musician: Tales of hedonistic sojourns and late night debauchery are not only rife lyrically but are reflected boldly in an instrumental sense as equal doses of hell raising guitar and thumping drum beats depict. Tunes like the Led Zeppelin/ Black Sabbath hybrid Stone Me Sober and the head bopping, foot shuffling effort Bang of a Gun follow suit exquisitely as Bonfanti never fails to disappoint with his ferociously skilful fret work.
Yet, Like every great rock and roll artist, Bonfanti isn’t afraid to lift the whiskey drenched, nicotine stained veil to reveal his soul’s deeper sentiments; in the country infused acoustic musing Blind Alley we are given access, all be it restricted, into deeper passages of the bluesman’s mind but it is in the beautifully expressive I know we all do bad sometimes that the barriers are lifted: “whisper to me that I will be ok and I’m too young to die” and “all I wanted was to keep you safe from the things out to do you harm” are almost the lyrical antithesis to rest of the tracks on Shake The Walls but Bonfanti’s tender delivery of such throughout and ,ironically, a reasonably furious guitar solo towards the end of the track give us a delightfully rare glimpse into the contemplative and impassioned complexities of a usually white knuckled, raucous mind-set. Think of Peter Green’s playing in Out Of Reach or Elmore James’ exquisite portrayal of the human condition in Something Inside Of Me to gauge the tone of this introspective creation.
Slight criticisms of the album have come in regards to ‘uninspired’ lyrics but does that ever matter when you’re listening to legendary tracks like Black Dog by Led Zeppelin, Paranoid by Sabbath or I’m a Rocker by AC/DC? I personally don’t think it does in the slightest so, being of the same ilk, Bonfanti’s mercurial musicianship and sublime guitar playing should just be enjoyed for what it is… show stopping.
If you’re in two minds as to whether to purchase Shake The Walls online then you must go and watch Marcus live, I assure you it’s even better. You can catch our interview with the man himself below.