Magna Carta Records
Organist John Novello of the power trio Niacin takes a decidedly different approach to the Hammond B-3 on Time Crunch (Magna Carta MA-9059-2; 56:10). Joined by heavyweights like drummer Dennis Chambers and monster rock bassist Billy Sheehan (from David Lee Roth and Mr. Big fame), Novello whips up raw fusion fury like some interesting amalgam of Brian Auger and the Trinity, Tony Williams Lifetime, Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The opener, "Elbow Grease," is a ferocious cyclone of twisting unison lines, dizzying sextuplets and double bass drum thumping. And the pace only picks up from there with throbbing odes like "Damaged Goods," "Stone Face" and the volcanic title track. The whirlwind "Daddy Long Leg" with its rapid-fire exchanges of eights might recall Return to Forever in its heyday. A surprise is Niacin's faithful rendition of King Crimson's heavier-than-heavy signature piece from 1974, "Red." And they also turn in a suitably blazing rendition of Jan Hammer's "Blue Wind." Fusion fans, chops mongers and speed freaks will definitely dig Niacin's super-charged third outing.