Sweet Pea Atkinson
Hillard "Sweet Pea" Atkinson (born c. 1945) is an American R&B singer known as one of the vocalists for the band Was (Not Was). In 1982, shortly after the release of the first Was (Not Was) album, he recorded and released his first solo album, Don't Walk Away. The album was co-produced by Was (Not Was) members David Weiss and Donald Fagenson, also known as the Was Brothers. In 1997, along with Kris Kristofferson, Atkinson starred in a 15-minute short film included on Don Was' album Forever’s a Long, Long Time, which Was released under the alias Orquestra Was. Atkinson also performed as lead vocalist on most of the songs on the album, on which Was interprets songs by Hank Williams.
Atkinson later joined forces with Blues guitarist Randy Jacobs - also a longtime Was (Not Was) session guitarist who co-wrote the band's most successful hit, "Walk the Dinosaur" - in a band called the Boneshakers; together they released three albums. Two of those were studio recordings: Book of Spells in 1997 on Point Blank Records, and Shake the Planet in 1999, also on Point Blank Records. The third album that they cut together is a live album, Live in Seattle, with the groovy female saxophonist Mindi Abair. It was released on Concord Records. Two more albums were credited to Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers: The EastWest Sessions (2017) and All I Got for Christmas Is the Blues (2018).
Robert Christgau gave Don't Walk Away an A– grade, writing, "Trouper that he is, Atkinson will sing any nonsense [the Was brothers] hand him, but he obviously finds his truth in Dionne Warwick, the Tymes, General Johnson, and Eddie Rabbitt, and I'll go along with that." AllMusic's William Ruhlmann gave the album 3 stars out of 5. In his review, Ruhlmann wrote that "For all intents and purposes, this is a Was (Not Was) record" and that "mostly this record has the same sarcastic undercurrent of most of Was (Not Was)'s product."
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- Ruhlmann, William. "Don't Walk Away Review". AllMusic.
- "I'm Old As Dirt But I Can Still Sing: Sweet Pea Atkinson On Get What You Deserve". NPR.