|Musical Style: Rock||Produced By: Dino Elefante|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1984/2009||Artist Website: Sweet Comfort Band|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 39:59|
Sweet Comfort Band came together in 1972 as a result of a union between vocalist/keyboardist Bryan Duncan and brothers Kevin (bass) and Rick Thomson (drums). The three toured Southern California the next three years until finding a permanent guitarist in Randy Thomas in 1976.
With its line up solidified, SCB released its self titled debut on Maranatha! Music in 1977 prior to signing with Light Records for the follow up efforts Breakin’ The Ice (1978) and Hold On Tight (1979). While the early SCB material reflected the influences of jazz-fusion, funk and rhythm and blues, the group started to add “heavier rock” elements to its sound on Hearts Of Fire (1981) and Cutting Edge (1982), its third and fourth albums on Light Records respectively.
Perfect Timing, the fifth SCB release on Light Records from 1984, found the progression towards a heavier rock direction complete. As a matter of fact, you could make a valid point that the albums heavier material - “Perfect Timing”, “Habit Of Hate”, “Don’t Bother Me Now” and “Looking For The Answer” – crosses the line up hard rock. “Envy And Jealousy” and “Neighborhood Kids” bring a funky-groove based sound but also feature a more than ample amount of guitar driven edge. Rounding things out are a couple of well constructed ballads in “You Led Me To Believe” and “Prodigal’s Regret (Never Should Have Left You)”.
Initially a vinyl and cassette only release in the mid-eighties, Perfect Timing was re-mastered and re-issued by Retroactive Records the latter half of 2009.
At this point it must be reinforced that Perfect Timing is certainly not metal while roughly half its material can be classified as hard rock. On the other hand, if you are looking for a quality “heavy rock” releases with accomplished songwriting backed by a top of the line band performance then Perfect Timing will not disappoint. Of course, long term CCM fans will rejoice at the Retroactive SCB re-issues, which also include the groups four other studio albums on Light Records.
My review of Cutting Edge makes mention of Bryan Duncan being one of the overlooked talents in the rock world. His smooth as silk and refined flavorings throughout Perfect Timing reinforce this point, shining with the emotion he imbues the two ballads but bestowing elements of heart and soul to “Envy And Jealousy” and “Don’t Bother Me Now”.
And what can you say about Randy Thomas? Fantastic musician. With a style heavily steeped in jazz and the blues, he reflects the former in his playing on “Perfect Timing” and latter “Prodigals Regret”. The albums heavier material finds him cutting loose in more aggressive fashion from both a lead and rhythm guitar driven standpoint.
The sometimes groovy and at others funk flavored bass lines of Kevin Thomson deserve mention as well. This can best be found on the pronounced bass lines characterizing “Envy And Jealousy” and “Neighborhood Kids”.
Production values are expertly handled by Dino Elefante while packaging is top notch. It must be mentioned that SCB featured some of the finest album artwork back in the day.
The albums title track does a good job showcasing the heavier side to SCB. A stylish eighties rocker, “Perfect Timing” delivers guitars and keyboards in the needed amounts while allowing a punchy bass line to permeate the mix. Randy Thomas, fittingly, closes things with a stretch of jazzy lead guitar. The albums title track talks about how God always has “perfect timing”:
You've got perfect timing
You're not a minute too soon
Not a moment too late
You've got perfect timing
I can see when you move
I can feel when you wait
You hold tomorrow in the palm of your hand
Everything runs by your master plan
You've got perfect timing
The hard rocking direction is maintained on “Habit Of Hate”, another edgy piece that finds SCB flexing its muscles. The rhythm guitar really throws its weight around here, snarling in and out of the mix as the song maneuvers its verses only to establish itself fixed and firm as a succinctly delivered chorus is obtained. The focus of “Habit Of Hate” is controlling your anger:
Hatred will tear out your heart
It will drain your lifeblood
Like a poison in your veins
No one can take it away
If you won't pray for an answer
There's a price you'll have to pay
Trapped in your habit of hate
Stranded in the darkness that is blinding your eyes
You won't ever find love
'Till you break those evil ties
Trapped in your habit of hate
“You Led Me To Believe”, the first of two ballads, proves a heartfelt piece with its poignant sensibilities. Driven by piano but highlighted by occasional hints of orchestration, the song brings quite the captivating melody while Bryan Duncan stretches in showcasing the full range to his voice.
“Don’t Bother Me Now” delivers a heavy groove sound with a hard rocking guitar presence. This one features quite the pronounced low end – thick, dogged and full of weight – but can make the occasional foray into more forceful territory with the rhythm guitar moving to the forefront of the mix.
“Computer Age” is the lone “speed bump” on Perfect Timing. What we have here is a quirky eighties influenced pop-rock tune with overdone keyboards and lame lyrics:
She does aerobics to start the day
But you can find here playing video games
On her home computer screen
She's the best you've ever seen
She keeps appointments, she's never late
Only goes out on computer dates
Made on answering machines
She's the all-American teen
Randy Thomas handles lead vocals, and while that is not a bad thing, it is not enough to prevent “Computer Age” from falling within filler territory.
A turn towards the commercial is taken on “Sing For The Melody”. Commercial is the key word in that the song, penned by John and Dino Elefante, reflects a radio friendly feel with its melodic touches and infectious upbeat tempo. It must be noted the tasteful manner in which John Elefante’s distinct voice stands out in the backing vocals as “Sing For The Melody” reaches its catchy chorus.
“Looking For The Answer” is the heaviest piece ever from SCB. Randy Thomas steps to the plate with his hard rocking riffs, adding a muscular vibe to the songs heavy duty chorus while cutting loose with a stretch of complementary fiery lead guitar. This is as close to metal as it gets.
As “Looking For The Answer” fades out, “Envy And Jealousy” begins to a pronounced bass line. A return to a more groove-based sound, the song slows things exponentially with its atmospheric keyboards but also proves quite memorable in giving prominence to a hook driven chorus – in which momentum picks up – and decisive milieu. The subject matter here is self explanatory:
Every time I think I'm OK
I'm in trouble again
I just can't seem to get away
From this emotional sin
I'm inferiority bound
And lost in despair
Harmony can never be found
When I begin to compare
Envy and jealousy
They make me so small
Envy and Jealousy
Are there when I fall
“Prodigal’s Regret (Never Should Have Left You)”, ballad number two, is a piano based piece accented by periodic string accompaniments. Similar to “You Led Me To Believe”, it proves a quality work with a notable melody and emotional tinges. Where the two diverge is that “Prodigal’s Regret” features a very well done blues based guitar solo. “Prodigal’s Regret” touches upon a lost love:
Love will carry on forever
Leaving many wounded
Heartaches never meant to be
The scars will always be there
Still, I don't think I can make it
Living with a memory
I lost a love I failed to see
I never should have left you
When I first heard Perfect Timing (twenty five years ago), my first impression was to write off “Neighborhood Kids” as filler. My stance, however, has changed over the years in that the song, another funky-groove based piece, delivers a subtle but mirthful melody and just enough edgy guitars to prevent your attention from drifting.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Perfect Timing” (3:28), “Habit Of Hate” (3:34), “You Led Me To Believe” (5:05), “Don’t Bother Me Now” (3:49), “Computer Age” (3:26), “Sing For The Melody” (3:43), “Looking For The Answer” (4:41), “Envy And Jealousy” (4:18), “Prodigal’s Regret (Never Should Have Left You)” (4:05), “Neighborhood Kids” (3:46)
Bryan Duncan – Lead Vocals
Randy Thomas – Guitars & Lead Vocals
Kevin Thomson – Alembic Bass
Rick Thomson – Drums
Peter Robinson & John Schreiner – Keyboards
John Elefante - Vocals