24-7 Spyz PhotoFORMED: 1988, Milledgeville, NY
The years since 1992's deservedly praised Strength In Numbers album have been full of change in the music world and growth for the band. In retrospect, 24-7 were ahead of the pack in many ways. They brought back Jungle Boogie five years before Quentin did, after all. Many bands whose members no doubt wore out their copies of Harder Than You ('89) or Gumbo Millennium ('90) are making big bucks with similar sounds but less style. Well, Big Daddy's back, and he's not worried about who ate his table scraps. He's got a new main course called Heavy Metal Soul, soon to be delivered fresh to a sweaty venue near you.

Music critics (well, the smart ones) who hear this record will comment on the remarkable new ease at which the Spyz have meshed well chosen influences with their own creativity to create such a solid album. But that's nothing compared to the rush you'll feel when Love and Peace rips the lid off your home amplifier, or how low your jaw drops when you realize Let Your Fancy Flow actually has your rhythmless ass gyrating. This is a grown up, more powerful version of the Spyz you know and love, but you don't have to think about that unless you want to. Get it? No? It's simple - if you didn't like Spyz before, you'll like them now. Liked them? You'll love them. Already loved them? Then you can just weld your CD player shut once you've put this in.

For those of you who are hearing Spyz for the first time, i.e. those who did not see this sonic punch coming, we'll back up a little. 24-7 Spyz exploded out of the Bronx back in 1988, sharing valedictorian honors in the school of funk rock with Primus, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and yes, Living Colour. Any good movement needs a friendly rivalry, right? Well, the Spyz took the route of Keith & Mick, keeping their leather coats and leaving the Beatles' role to their more pop oriented NYC co-horts. They toured their asses off for several years, making 24-7 Spyz a trusted brand name for anyone with deeper influences than your typical mall rat.

1991's This is..24-7 Spyz EP saw founding members Jimi Hazel (guitars) and Rick Skatore (bass) forging new ground by leaving some of their past behind and welcoming both a new drummer (Joel Maitoza) and a new singer to the fold. Then came the already mentioned, criminally ignored Strength In Numbers.

They won't talk about it much, but the disappointment of seeing their musical growth ignored obviously had some impact on Jimi and Rick, as they went back in time a little, with the original lineup returning on the European only Temporarily Disconnected CD. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad album, but rear view mirrors aren't needed if you've still got the juice to floor it.

Luckily, the legions of European Spyz fanatics helped turn things back around. All those folks whispering in Jimi's ear on that tour deserve a plaque in the 24-7 Spyz Hall of Fame. "Everywhere we went, people would tell me 'It's great to have you back, but when are you going to get back to that new shit again?'' Jimi reported, "they told me what I needed to hear- that 24-7 Spyz wasn't finished yet." Together with Rick (who's quietly becoming the George Harrison of the group, check out his Simple Minded Simon and El Lame) on bass and Joel on drums, Jimi turned to the one voice he knew he could fully trust to bring the sounds in his head to the masses--his own.

Does it work? Would I have been so bold to this point if it hadn't? Jimi's voice gives the Spyz songs new depth without sacrificing any of his infamous guitar wizardry. From the anti-trend rant "Clique" to the dynamic "Burned" and the hopeful "Free To Be," 24-7's three piece attack struts with new found focus and clarity. Core firmly established, album in the pocket, the band is returning to the road this fall with the assistance of percussionist Cartlon Smith, hungry to establish themselves once and for all as live performers of the highest order. Heavy Metal Soul By The Pound is what they'll be throwing down, and if you gather around, you'll be rewarded by the sound. ~ Phillip Ewing, 80s Retro Music