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Niacin
Deep
Catalog #:MA-9048-2

Price: $16.98

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Deep
AUDIO CLIPS

01 Swing Swang Swung
(mp3 or realaudio)

02 Best Laid Plans
(mp3 or realaudio)

03 Sugar Blues
(mp3 or realaudio)

04 Stompin' Ground
(mp3 or realaudio)

05 Blue Mondo
(mp3 or realaudio)

06 Panic Button
(mp3 or realaudio)

07 Bootleg Jeans
(mp3 or realaudio)

08 Mean Streets
(mp3 or realaudio)

09 This One's Called...
(mp3 or realaudio)

10 Klunkified
(mp3 or realaudio)

11 Ratt McQue
(mp3 or realaudio)

12 Things Ain't What They Used to Be
(mp3 or realaudio)

13 Bluesion (Bonus Track)
(mp3 or realaudio)



Also Available by Niacin:

"Organik"

"Time Crunch"

"Live - Blood, Sweet & Beers"

  NIACIN:
Deep
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Released March 7, 2000

Niacin is Billy Sheehan, John Novello, and Dennis Chambers.

Billy Sheehan, spider-fingered bass acrobat for such bands as Talas, David Lee Roth and Mr. Big, lays down the overall vibe for the project. "Well, a lot of the songs that I contributed, I wrote around bass lines, which is kind of cool. It adds a little bit of a different structural quality to the songs, or structural lack of quality if you prefer (laughs). With my writing contributions in the past, I would work with John in his studio. But this time I wrote a lot of stuff in my own studio, so I had to do my own drum tracks as demos, for Dennis to work from. So some of the stuff I put into the computer as drum tracks made sense when you listened to them, but they were kind of impossible for a human being to actually play. But Dennis, being true to what we expect of him, played them anyways (laughs). He did some amazing drum transitions and grooves, which I really would challenge a lot of other players to be able to do at all and still make them sound smooth. He really did an amazing job. And of course the record overall is just a little bit heavier and aggressive than we had gone before, a little bit more toward progressive rock than the fusion or jazz direction. We definitely went more towards some of our late '60s, early '70s prog rock roots, people like King Crimson, PFM, Gentle Giant, early Genesis and of course, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, a classic B-3 band, and one we often get compared to. Both John and I as writers have many, many influences. We've both gone in many directions in our years of playing. And a good part of that is that you have a big bag of tricks to pull from. So we have a lot of things that we can reference or use as inspiration.

Billy's bandmates are more than up to the task to help shape, create and develop the vision. "Dennis Chambers, man, I wouldn't know where to start to tell you what records he's been on. He's worked with Chick Corea, Steely Dan, Parliament/Funkadelic, even James Brown. He's just an absolute champion of the drums. His jazz and funk roots are as deep as the tallest oak is tall (laughs). And as a person, he is ego-free, completely selfless. It's an inspiration because he is just so possessed by playing music. That's all he does, tour and play music. And even if his background is jazz, he loves rock. In soundcheck we'll play Grand Funk, Zeppelin. He's not a jazz snob at all. He digs so many different kinds of music. And that's kind of inherent with all of us, so it works out really good when we play together."

And Billy maintains that even though Niacin's daunting writing is the domain of John and himself, the Dennis Chambers vibe is an integral part of the trio-riffic whole. "All Dennis really has to do is sit down and perform, and it is so unique to him as an individual while at the same time true to the intention of the writer, that it's almost as though he is writing. He certainly puts his own indelible stamp on there."

Keyboardist John Novello is, in essence, the guitarist and lead vocalist of Niacin even if he accomplishes the entire ball of wax on his coterie of B-3 vocabularies. "Well, John is a real expert at the B-3 thing. And you know, it's fallen on keyboardists' shoulders to know the computer and MIDI stuff and he's become an expert at that too. But he can also remove himself from that whole computer thing and play real heart and soul type stuff, almost like gospel, on the B3. It's funny. There's this white guy, but you look over your shoulder, and you think you see a black choir behind you singing (laughs). It's really cool. And a big part of that is his groove. And just as a person, he's really fastidious, and he cares a lot about the overall sound of the band; he's more of a team player than an individualist. I like that a lot."

Niacin's B-3 sound harkens back to a great history within the rock tradition, something the band has front-and-center celebrated and revived. Billy charts some of the classic B-3 greats through history. "Well, there's some of the standards, like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, the B-3 legends; Humble Pie and Spooky Tooth, Traffic or some of the Blind Faith stuff. Keith Emerson is the standard in the prog field, but there's B-3 all through Yes and even Led Zeppelin's debut which is a great B-3 record as is Hendrix's Electric Ladyland. Jon Lord (Deep Purple) and Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep) and some of the prog guys went for a rockier, grinding version of it. I believe Jon Lord put it through a Marshall. But the jazz guys like Jimmy Smith tended to go straight or through a clean Leslie cabinet."

Billy is quick to flesh out and clarify his definition of the B-3 sound."B-3 is used to designate the basic Hammond sound. There are several other instruments that do it, like the A-100 and the M-3, but basically when you say B-3 you are talking about the Hammond sound. Purists will bristle if I don't say whether we're talking about B-3, M-3 or an A-100 but, in actual fact, it's pretty much the same mechanics that go into creating that sound in all the Hammond organs."

"It's a really distinguishable sound," Billy adds. "And, for a long time, I remember in the late '60s and the early '70s, if you didn't have a B-3, you were basically out of luck as a band. Everybody had to have one. It was an integral a part of music in that era as the Telecaster, Strat, Les Paul, Fender P bass or Ludwig drums."

One of the craziest marriages of B-3 and rock on Niacin's Deep would be the band's cover of Van Halen's 'Mean Streets'. Billy lays down the circumstance. "Well, for years, I did that intro to 'Mean Streets' on the bass. I remember seeing Eddie do it as part of his solo before the "Fair Warning"album came out. My band, Talas, was the opening act for them up at the time, and it took me until the end of the tour to figure out what in the world he was doing, and I started doing it on bass. So for years after that, guitar players always wanted me to show them that. It's more like a slap hit bass-oriented part than a guitar part, so it really threw guitar players. For years, I probably could have made a living out of teaching it to guitarists (laughs). And when I heard the song 'Mean Streets,' it always struck me that if this was ever done really funkified, it would have a cool swing to it. We actually did a couple of extra things to it. I threw a couple of loops together, in the computer music program Sonic Foundry's Acid, which is a really cool program for loop management. So I just layered in some loops that really fit the mood of the track. And, on the intro, John did a B-3 loop just barely audible underneath my bass part and then it takes a break from that intro and goes into the main body of the song. And I just love the fact that it's kind of a swang, funkified version of that song because that is always the way I heard it in my head."

Another surprise is a flash guest vocal performance from the one and only Glenn Hughes. "Yes! Glenn kicked ass and he'd never heard the song," reveals Billy. "We thought, just to throw everybody a curve, because we were trying to remain as uncategorized as possible, let's put a vocal track on there and add a guitar, just because we said we never would. Let's violate some rules. And that is Steve Lukather on lead guitar while I played rhythm. But we loved Glenn's voice. So he came in and, literally, in about 45 minutes, he had the track done. Now, from working with many other vocalists, that's pretty fast. From not even ever hearing the song or seeing the lyrics to nailing it, that's pretty damn good. And he really nailed it."

A couple of nice spices then, added to a cogent blend of power, chops and restraining dynamics. On the purely "all-business" front, highlights of the record include the convoluted Chambers swing of 'Best Laid Plans' and the impossible percussive cathedrals within 'Stompin' Ground'. Elsewhere, 'Blue Mondo' strikes a classic metal pose, only the power chords are replaced by bass and synths. 'Panic Button' finds Novello reviving the sleeping spirit of ELP, and 'Bootleg' features Billy, note-stuffed but fluid, as always.

Pops, twists, starbursts and scintillating ear candy scattered everywhere like so many chocolate Easter eggs on a brisk Spring morn. This is the sum total and smiling final impression one might experience as Deep roars to a finish. It is a jazz-powered pageant of rock positivity, that, like I say, could only pounce forth from the hands of such a trio of meticulous and scholarly professionals hit with a load of fun. There ya go, sweet and smooth, firm but funky, Niacin - Deep.

Check out Niacin's other Magna Carta releases, Organik, Time Crunch, and Live - Blood Sweat & Beers.

 


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