Although this is Nicklebag’s second album (the follow up to 1996’s 12 Hits and a Bump), I found this, my initial encounter, to be an impressive one. Upon the album’s introduction, “Grow,” vocalist Bernard Fowler’s voice is quite reminiscent of ex-Ozzy Osborne guitarist Zakk Wylde, especially given the similar infusion of blues and rock, a wicked combo given the edge and urgency of both. I only had to look as far as the credits to find Wylde’s presence, as his former drummer (Brian Tichy) and bassist (John DeServio) are audible on Feedback. Also on hand, a myriad of other performers: bassist T.M. Stevens (Steve Vai), ex-Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese, Neville brother Ivan, and former Living Colour bassist Doug Wimbish.
The whole atmosphere reeks of thoughtful songwriting and veteran prowess: Fowler has toured with the Rolling Stones, and his partner in crime/shred-master Stevie Salas has worked with Lenny Kravitz, Sammy Hagar, and George Clinton.
The album’s killer track, “Dope Fiend,” brings to mind yet another band along that same genre, guitarist Jake E. Lee’s early eighties’ band Badlands (“Rumblin’ Train”). While Nicklebag’s interpretation of Heatwave’s “Grooveline” is an acceptable hint of nostalgia, they do tremendous justice to Stevie Wonder’s ballad “Don’t Know Why I Love You.” But the band is at their best when they set out to rock (“Love Song” and “Dope Fiend”). Mas Feedback is one of those albums that leaves one salivating for a band tour. With an album this good, it can only get better live. The Lizard Group, 110 Greene St. #702, New York, New York 10012