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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Niacin

Deep

Review by Gary Hill

  This album captures a nice retro and jazzy sort of prog texture. It does this, almost completely, without the addition of guitar and vocals. The Hammond sound on here calls to mind Deep Purple, but other leanings are there as well, including ELP and Chris Squire. The only guitar on the album is provided on one track by Toto's Steve Lukather. Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath) provides the only vocal appearance on the same cut.

Niacin is John Novello (Chick Corea, Mark Isham), Billy Sheehan (Talas, David Lee Roth and Mr. Big) and Dennis Chambers (Chick Corea, Steely Dan, Parliament Funkadelic). The album is their fourth release as a band.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Swing, Swang, Swung
Featuring an awesome retro sound and a killer groove, this cut really is a strong prog instrumental. It calls to mind ELP, Crimson and others while cutting out its own niche.
Best Laid Plans
Beginning with classically oriented piano work, this one quickly jumps into gear, moving into a retro-jazzy prog mode, both quirky and catchy. It really jams.
Sugar Blues
Organ begins this cut, and it quickly becomes a prog jam with strong jazz elements. It features a killer Deep Purplish organ solo, awesome bass work and drum.
Stompin Ground
This cut is a killer jam with a driving bass line.
Blue Mondo
Muted tones start this one, and as the percussion builds, the number jumps in full force. This is a potent composition with a slightly off-kilter feel to the rhythm.
Panic Button
"Panic Button" is another nice jazzy retro-textured instrumental piece.
Bootleg Jeans
A high-energy jam that really moves, this one is jazzy with strong Deep Purple elements and textures.
Mean Streets
Bass jamming, first subdued, then louder, begins this cut. Picture it as Eddie Van Halen on bass guitar. Indeed, this is a cover of the Van Halen cut from "Fair Warning". After a time, Sheehan's bass work takes on a very Chris Squire influenced mode. Consider this a great prog piece from an unlikely musical source.
This One's Called...
Fast and furious, this prog cut, with ELPish elements, really jumps out.
Klunkified
"Klunkified" is a jazzy sort of prog cut with a great groove.
Ratta McQu
This one is more jazz oriented prog. The keyboard work on this piece, in particular, really stands out. This track has a lot of intriguing changes.
Things Aren't Like They Used To Be
A solid blues rocker, this one features the only guitar and vocal appearances on the album. The guitar is provided by Steve Lukather and the vocals by Glenn Hughes.
Fifth Season
Starting with a wonderful piano melody, this one quickly begins to build. It begins to take on traditional prog modes with a hard edge. A dramatic spoken word verse drops the cut into its main section. This is Pink Floydish prog mode that is very well done. This one gets Genesisish at times.
Bluesion
This is more retro-tinged and jazzy prog.
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