Niacin: Time Crunch
This is a first for me. I open a demo package and am so impressed I begin the review before the CD is finished. This release is THAT important. Jazzers will dig this. Fusion heads will get into it. Prog rock fans will drool. Rockers will bang heads. And anyone who loves awesome keys, monster bass and slammin’ drums MUST grab this. I received this CD and liner notes “naked” and I instantly assembled a fine jewel case for this gem.
This release is so, so very dense, in-your-face, pumping, groovin’, funked, slick, soul-fired jammin’ and darn good fun. I was very tempted to do dashboard air-keyboards listening to this on the road. This Time Crunch has the punch, lushness, and full sound of ELP’s Tarkus, (especially clear on “Stone Face”), U.K.’s legendary releases, and Derek Sherinian aka Planet X’s efforts. Sheehan’s bass work is immense, fluid, fast, and furious. Novello’s keys are a surround sound experience with Jan Hammeresque lead fills and solos. Sheehan solos mean as well. Chambers is a solid powerhouse of relentless pummelings and graceful powerglides.
This is eleven songs of near-perfection. And guess what? I enjoyed this CD immensely yet there are NO LEAD nor RHYTHM GUITARS herein. Wow! I must give this CD a 9.9 outta 10. Otherwise someone might think I wrote a biased review or something . . . time to hit replay . . .
By the way, Niacin does two prog-fan-friendly covers; “Red” by Fripp and friends and the outro cut, “Blue Wind” by Jan Hammer. Alas, one very, very wee complaint: that psuedo-horn, mimed to a Miles-mute-Davis-cool, via a synth lead on “Daddy Long Leg” was an irksome sound-bank, voice choice. It sounded ultra cheesy aka fake. Don’t use that setting on tour! I’d suggest instead that fuller Hendrixian-axe setting Hammer used on “Jetstream” off his Black Sheep and do the Jimi jive next time. ‘Nuff said.
Track Listing: Elbow Grease, Time Crunch, Stone Face, Red, Invisible King, Daddy Long Leg, Hog Funk, Glow, Damaged Goods, Outside Inside Out, Blue Wind
Personnel: Billy Sheehan - Monster Bass, John Novello - Awesome Keys aka Hammond B3, piano, synths, Dennis Chambers - Lord of the Skins and phat kicks