Dry Bones Dancing 
Artist: Late Late Service  
Label: Maranatha! Music  
Time 10/42.07  
  
"Dry Bones Dancing is an alternative worship experience combining the raw, honest sounds of today's generation with passionate songs of praise. Powerful songs...driving guitars...gut wrenching vocals...a fresh expression of worship for a new generation of worshippers." (the back cover)  
  
Normally, I avoid Maranatha! products, not having been impressed with much I've heard from that label. This description caught my eye, however, and I was intrigued by the presence of a number of familiar names, including Gene Eugene (Adam Again) as engineer and Shawn Tubbs, Chris Lizotte, and Peter Shambrook as co-producers and players of a variety of instruments on the album. Other featured musicians include Tod  Warren (acoustic guitar), Rich Young (drums/percussion), and Richard Causon (wurlitzer, hammond, piano, melodica, accordion), with vocals taken from a group comprising Peter Shambrook, Tod Warren, Tim Taber, Chris Lizotte,  Shawn Tubbs, Richard Causon, and Jaime Eichler. After some listening  I'm not sure that I agree with the description above (the word "alternative" seems to be bandied about a little too regularly), but it's still a pretty good album.  
  
One thing that must be noted is that this is not the Late Late Service community from Scotland (whose most recent project I reviewed last year) but a different group--a fact which has caused some discussion and confusion.  
  
The music is a synthesis of rootsy-rock sounds, with touches of blues thrown in. It's similar in places to Phil Madeira's "Off Kilter" and Rick Elias's "Blink," but with the obvious differences brought on by the nature of the group (like more instruments). A couple of the songs were already familiar to me--Chris Falson's "I See the Lord" was recorded on the 1996 Spring Harvest Praise Mix--but there are a number of new songs penned by members of the group.  
  
The lyrics are very obviously designed to be simple enough for easy use in congregational worship, but don't suffer from the simplistic nature of many such choruses. The most outstanding lyrics actually come from the older "The Solid Rock" by Edward Mots and William Bradbury, which is given a delicate treatment with Todd Warren and Jaime Eichler providing the lead vocals and an accordion providing the main part of the backing:  
    My hope is built on nothing less  
    Than Jesus' blood and righteousness  
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame  
    But wholly lean on Jesus' name 
The lyrics for the original songs don't have the power of those older words for me, but they are well-constructed musically.  I think "I See the Lord" is given a good treatment, laid-back with a hint of the blues, just right for the song.  The arrangement of "Hosanna in the Highest" here would probably go down well within a lively church service--since here, as on most of the rest of the album, the guitars are prominent but not overly powerful, and the vocals are mixed high in all the songs, as is true with most worship music.  

The album is generally well-produced, with a fair amount of diversity in the arrangements (although a little more wouldn't go amiss). This is generally a solid worship album, very different from the other group bearing this name but probably more accessible. I just wish it could be allowed to stand on its own merits, instead of relying on the "alternative" tag.  
 
By James Stewart