Nicklebag – Mas Feedback [1997]

d16256khxy2Country USA          Style Hard Rock

Rating 75/100

Band Members
Bernard Fowler – Vocals, Stevie Salas – Guitar, background vocals

Additional personnel
Bernie Worrell – Organ, Rei Atsumi – Mellotron, Jeff Bova, Ivan Neville, Roger Stein, Dave Judy – Keyboards, Lon Hillyer, Darryl Jones, T.M. Stevens, Doug Wimbish, John Deservio, Carmine Rojas – Bass, Brian Tichy – Drums, percussion, Dave Abruzzeese, Zack Alfred – Drums, Juliette Prater, David Friendly, Tony Celebrini – Percussion, Lisa Fischer – Background vocals

Tracks
1. Grow, 2. Sweet Thang, 3. Love Song (All Up In My World), 4. Don’t Know Why I Love You, 5. Hit It And Quit It, 6. Turning The Other Way, 7. Too Many Mountains, 8. Only Happy When It Rains, 9. Soul Search, 10. Dope Fiend, 11. Repetition, 12. I Will, 13. Walrus, 14. Grooveline (Bonus Bump)

Profile Criminally underexposed hard rock from the late 90s. Steve Salas was the guitar whiz from Color Code, while Bernard Fowler has sung with the Stones and Ryuichi Sakamoto. They’re backed up here by Bernie Worrell (Funkadelic / Talking Heads) and produced — loudly — by Bill Laswell. Quite a cast! Between Fowler’s soulful shout and Salas shredding like Hendrix, this is really a lost gem. The sound initially recalls Living Color, but Hendrix, Cream, Robin Trower, and especially the Physical Graffiti / Presence – era Zeppelin all echo though Nicklebag’s funky yet very heavy sound. More obscure black hard rockers like Sound Barrier and Mother’s Finest cut similar ground but these guys go much further, delivering “Wind Cries Mary”-style ballads in “Don’t Know Why I Love You” and “Turning The Other Way,” prog metal in “Grow” and “Love Song,” and classic riff rock in “Repetition” and “Sweet Thang” (the album’s marvelous “should’ve-been-a-single”).

This album is worth getting for the incredibly majestic and energy pumped into the Garbage song “Only Happy When it Rains”. The song takes on a bluesy, powerful rock anthem that blows the original t a mythical level. This song becomes a classic thru Nicklebag.

Be aware that Nickelbag really only made one album, 12 Hits & A Bump, which was re-released a year later as Mas Feedback. Besides new artwork and running order, each record differs by a couple of tracks, most notably in the choice of cover songs: Mas Feedback includes takes on “Only Happy When It Rains” and “I Am The Walrus” but drops the first version’s choice covers of Bowie’s “Win” and Zep’s “Hots On For Nowhere.” I prefer the first release, therefore, but either is well worth owning.

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