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Album Review

The third studio album from this fusion power trio packs a two-fisted wallop and takes no prisoners. Billy Sheehan's bass solos on "Panic Button" and "Sugar Blues" are highlights, but, in truth, much of the record is practically a bass solo. His sound is crushing — not unlike the fat tone Chris Squire used to get in the early days of Yes, but pumped up with even more gain. John Novello wrings astonishing sounds out of the Hammond B-3 organ, and drummer Dennis Chambers gives every track enough rhythmic juice to power a small country. The instrumental cover of Van Halen's "Mean Streets" verges on silly, however. "Things Ain't Like They Used to Be" (not to be confused with the similarly titled Duke Ellington tune) isn't much of a song, and Glenn Hughes' guest vocal is overblown, but guitar ace Steve Lukather contributes tasty licks and a hair-raising solo. Niacin's sound can get a little wearisome after a while, but if muscular, technically adept fusion is your thing, this is your band. ~ David R. Adler, Rovi

Customer Reviews

These guys really know how to jam!

David Adler's review of this set describes Niacin's cover of Van Halen's "Mean Streets" as verging on silly. Sheesh, it's no more silly than a pro writer using a phrase like "packs a two-fisted wallop and takes no prisoners." Ugh! I think the cover is pretty solid, as is the album, on balance. Adler also describes "Deep" as pretty much one long bass solo. How can one come to such a conclusion when John Novello's organ-playing is so dominant? I can't leave out the amazing Dennis Chambers' precision and craftsmanship, for that matter. I think the talents of these three are really well matched, even democratic, in the sense that they all get to shine throughout "Deep." I'd even go so far as to say that Novello's organ work helps to tame some of Sheehan's frantic, occasionally over-the-top bass style. Finally, it is a real treat to hear Glenn Hughes' classic, emotive vocals and Steve Lukather's skilled guitar-playing on "Things Ain't What They Used to Be." Brings back fond memories of listening to Hughes with Deep Purple in the '70s, and Lukather's concise style over the course of many fine albums by Toto.


I love it. The cover of Van Halen's "Mean Streets" is not silly at all. The entire work is a bass and organ fest. So what? I bought it for Billy's playing. Billy Sheehan does know when to stepback and be just a bass player. But he knows even better how to fly across the fretboard. I do think that "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" could have been left off the album. Get it. It is Niacin.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Having played straightforward hard rock with Mr. Big since the tail end of the '80s, bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan formed Niacin as an outlet for his jazz fusion and prog rock inclinations during the mid-'90s. The trio also featured keyboardist John Novello and drummer Dennis Chambers, both musicians who had crossed frequently between the worlds of jazz and rock during their careers. With Niacin, Novello devoted himself especially to the Hammond B-3 organ, a longtime mainstay of both jazz and prog...
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Deep, Niacin
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