If Escape From New York doesn’t break Shinobi Ninja pop what on earth will? Their sophomore album with a recording hiatus between the two albums so long, it feels like a third album, everything that should be perfected has been perfected, everything is locked and loaded. The bands identity has never been clearer: a hard rock hip hop band for the 21st Century with more soul than attitude. On Escape From New York, the band comes into sharp focus.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Mariah Carey’s new album and explained how 75 minutes worked against her, it was too long, it never got back to the opening hook. It made every mistake in the book, so many others do as well, Escape From New York with 12 tracks in 33 minutes is a superb album, it gets everything right. it goes on just long enough, it is edited to a fine point where nothing ever overstays its welcome, it works soul ballads and rap tracks, hip hop, soul, self portraits and tall tales into a coalesced SN whole. You seldom hear albums that sound so exactly like what they sound like. Every second your ears are picking up something new, something to excite, the galloping drums of “Libyan Libra” the soulful drag of “Genuine”, it is a soul thrill.
The very first song has a classical string section, it is the first thing you hear before D.A. intones “It’s been a long time coming”,and Baby G joins him and the band forms around him, from one to many, and then Baby G performs the first rap on the album: it’s vertiginous: you aren’t where you think you should be and, for me, the band isn’t the youthful kids that they once were. I remember D.A. maybe five years ago telling me how he was surviving on food stamps but had never felt happier in his life than here, in this place with this band and to go from there to this, the feeling is of immense hard work (and a well deserved reputation as one of New York’s top bands) paying off.
I’ve ragged on Shinobi Ninja fairly hard because I felt the first album wasn’t as strong a recording of the hugely popular songs from their live shows as they could, but the question is moot here. These are songs not written to be performed first, the way Rock Hood was, they were written to be recorded and they sound fine.
Shinobi are such a family affair: D.A. and Baby G on one side, twin brothers guitarist Dave and drummer (in my opinion one of the most powerful drummers around Mike on the other, and Alien X and DJ Axis Powers in the middle: the three parts come together as more than a whole; everybody feeds off each other.
On Escape From New York there is an unleashed restraint, pop hits like “One For The Radio” , the hard hitting “Power Strangers”, the pure soulful hairmetal ballad “Days Daze”… the songs accumulate form and sound into something very original and very exciting. This is just a terrific album, adeeper, stranger, more moving than even stuff like the recent “Amped To 12”. Simply going to Shinobi Ninja shows won’t cut it. This is a must hear.
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – June 1975 (Volume 7, Number 1)
Smith’s final freelance contribution to Creem.
putting Nigeria on the map
back at # 1 for a third non consecutive week
not a dreamer but a steely eyed businessman and pop musician
Willie Nelson will play at the Palomino fest on Saturday
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – May 1975 (Volume 6, Number 12
Elton John came across as completely engaging
by episode nine, season four, the bastards finally got me sick of Kate!
some hooky and wildly inspired tune
Harry has the summer of his career!