This is a review of "Shake Your Backbone" recorded by Being 747. The review was written by Jessica Thornsby in 2010.
'Shake Your Backbone' is an EP that needs some introduction. The two songs are taken from the national-curriculum compliant 'Amoeba to Zebra' production that has been touring UK schools for the past year and a half. Based on Charles Darwin's 'On The Origin of Species' the 'Amoeba to Zebra' production is written and performed by Being 747.
EP-opener 'Shake Your Backbone' is quite possibly the only alt-pop song to feature the lyric "and then we get the lampreys / an armour-plated proton-fish." It might also be the only song that's ever drooled over "the advantages of an endoskeleton." The verses of 'Shake Your Backbone' take the listener on a journey through the various stages of early evolution, played out against jazzy drums and tongue-in-cheek backing vocals.
It should be cheesy, but frontman Dave Cooke is clearly having the time of his life, and his deep, soulful crooning, when combined with the song's jazz-hands friendly rhythms and bonkers lyrics, is a combination that has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. The choruses switch to a more in-your-face brand of humour, bursting into a fun-filled holler of "come on shake your backbone!" that's pure, 90's-British-holiday-camp cheese. A perfect blend of silliness and educational know-how, delivered with a knowing wink.
Second track, 'Reigning Reptiles' takes the listener on a bass-heavy, dinosaur-studded trip through the prehistoric era. The frequent voiceovers, where Cooke doles out facts against a fluttery guitar line, aren't half as much fun as they are on 'Shake Your Backbone.' Being 747 could have brought some more fun to the table here. However, whenever Cooke drops the straight-laced voiceover in favour of singing, he puts so much earnestness and soul into his crooning, that you forgive him instantly. Anyone who can sound sincere whilst lamenting about "inadequate teeth" and the Brachiosaurus, deserves kudos. There's even a cheeky aside about the complications of dinosaur intercourse, which is a nudge-nudge-wink-wink piece of rudeness that's guaranteed to delight this song's target audience.
Easy to dismiss as a novel idea, the talent behind this body of work is impressive. Fashioning an entire album's worth of material out of awkward subject matter, and then pitching it at a notoriously awkward audience, takes some skill, not to mention courage. More of a teaser to get you interested in the 'Amoeba to Zebra' show, rather than an EP in the traditional sense, 'Shake Your Backbone' certainly gets the job done.
A fun, quirky and educational release that'll make you wish you were thirteen again, and Being 747 were coming to play at your school. Certainly more fun than your average science lesson.