Strength in Numbers

”We’re 24-7 Spyz/Who the f— are you?” That’s what this band yelled on their first release, back in 1989. Since then, they’ve replaced two members and, sigh, grown up. So no more ragging their audience; no more wacky mini-operas, like the one they improvised on their 1990 second album, Gumbo Millennium. Instead, we get more sharply focused songs in Strength in Numbers, full of grainy hooks, and we get admirable political sentiments that maybe aren’t much different from other bands’ admirable sentiments. But Jimi Hazel’s guitar solos still shudder with daredevil wildness; his rhythm playing sounds strong enough to be three guitarists all crunching at once; the songs keep sprouting unexpected new musical limbs, and the band’s combined speed metal, funk, and jazz attack has never been launched with such pinpoint virtuosity. A touch more of the Spyz’ old zany spunk would have made this thing sing, but even so the record leaves me dazzled with admiration.

Strength in Numbers
  • Music