If you've never heard of this group before, trust me: grab a hundred bucks out of the drawer where you hide your 25-year-old First Communion money, run out of the house and just buy their whole catalog. They're that good! Niacin (vitamin B3, Hammond B-3 organ - get it?) is the "unknown" John Novello on keyboards (primarily the B-3, but also piano and some synths), Buffalo's own Billy Sheehan on electric bass guitar, and the peerless Dennis Chambers on drums. They combine classic rock B-3 atmospheres with lead guitar-like bass virtuosity, and unreal jazz/rock drumming that drives and grooves and impresses all over. To my ears, "Organik" is the most progressive sounding of their five studio cds, and sort of follows a progression (if you will) that started with their last cd "Time Crunch", in which they covered Crimson's "Red" and Jan Hammer's "Blue Wind". Certainly from their very first eponymous album, they've had a sound that is frequently compared to "an instumental jazzy ELP", so the transition towards more prog rock/jazz fusion is not a big stretch. (The fact that they've been on the Magna Carta label for the last few cds has probably influenced that transition.) This is a GREAT album with absolutely no low spots. And even though the personnel and instruments (mostly) remain the same, every album by this group is different. I never feel like "O.K., I've got enough of this Niacin stuff now." Where their first couple of cds were more eclectic and sometimes funkier, "Deep" was more bluesy, and the last two are more prog/jazz with a greater variety of keyboard sounds (but still predominantly B-3). The compositions continue to impress and excite, the production is excellent, and the playing (and interplay among musicians) is just so extraordinary - each member of the group sure sounds like they're 100% committed to this project on every track. Personal favorites after a few listens are "Blisterine" (infectious bass line), "Stumble on the Truth" , "Clean House" and their take on Zappa's "King Kong". About halfway through "Club Soda", there are some background wordless vocals that make that a cool song too. I love this band. See them live if you can - they're all friendly, down-to-earth maestros. So, take your vitamins...and buy this highly recommended cd.
1. Barbarian @ the Gate 2. Nemesis 3. Blisterine 4. King Kong 5. Super Grande
6. Magnetic Mood 7. Hair of the Dog 8. 4'5 3 9. Stumble on the Truth
10. Club Soda 11. No Shame 12. Clean House
13. Footprints In the Sand (Extra Special Bonus Track)
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4 weeks ago