After playing in a series of New York-area bands that went nowhere in the Seventies, keyboardist Danny Brill founded Keyboard Instrument Rentals (a company specializing in renting and leasing keyboards) and essentially gave up performing. Then, in 2004, he got the itch to record, unearthed some material he'd written 30 years earlier, updated it, wrote some new songs and recently released the aptly titled Better Late Than Never, Brill's first solo CD that took three decades to make. And it was mixed by Grammy winner David Hentschel, whose résumé includes albums by Genesis and Elton John.
With a sound bridging classical music with vintage and modern prog, the disc features a solid mix of instrumentals and vocal tracks performed by a slew of players and singers — including everyone from Tony Levin on bass, bass cello and Chapman Stick to Brill's children on cello, spoken parts and "screams." While piano and keys dominate many of these songs, you wouldn't necessarily know they are Brill's instruments of choice without reading the liner notes. Better Late Than Never is a well balanced record featuring pretty solo piano pieces that burst into prog ("Prelude/Demented," based in part on Maurice Ravel's work), Middle-Eastern swirls with Yoda-style voiceovers ("Indjia"), Red Hot Chili Peppers grooves ("Fantasyland") and tongue-in-cheek prog-folk epics that recall the Planet P Project ("Son of Bunsen Burner"). And, yes, "Yes It Is, No It's Not" really is a Yes clone, from the Steve Howe-like guitar playing to drummer Mike Sciotto's vocals. Despite the use of different vocalists throughout the album, the music makes more of an impression here than the singing, which at times sounds forced. Still, Brill is to be commended for finally realizing a dream and releasing a classy piece of work.
Brill dedicated Better Late Than Never to Keith Emerson, who he says has influenced him for the past 40 years.
1) Baker's Dozen
2) Double Feature: Part 1-Cyclops
3) Double Feature: Part 2-David
4) Fanfare and Processional
5) Yes It Is, No It's Not
7) Images in the Rain
10) Son of Bunsen Burner