Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
There are, and have been, many injustices in this world. The fact that Time For A Witness didn’t make more of a splash on the music scene in 1991, when it was originally released, is one of them. Labels hurt this band and prevented them from getting significant airplay or coverage. Silly labels such as “college rock” or “jangle pop”. How about just plain rock and roll? That’s what I hear. And it is sublime. Yes, this is an offshoot of pop music, but if all pop music was as well-crafted as the songs on Time For A Witness, the world would be a better place. Because of labels like that, most media outlets and radio stations dismissed them without ever giving the record a proper listen.
The other factor that hurt this record and others released in 1991 through 1994 was grunge mania. Don’t get me wrong, there were some fantastic releases that were under the grunge umbrella. The problem was, if a band wasn’t from Seattle and wore flannel, the mainstream media and radio stations dismissed them. The Feelies weren’t the only band to suffer from this, but they may be the most prominent.
I have seen it written that Time For A Witness was just a continuation of Only Life and no new ground was covered. I couldn’t disagree more. While The Feelies did follow their 10 song album formula and a cover on track 10, this is where the similarities end. On Only Life, most songs clock in at just under 4 minutes. Time For A Witness has 2 extended tracks. Find A Way and What She Said, clock in at 7 minutes and 5 minutes 40 seconds, respectively. I really like the longer songs. They flow well and they could be a little longer, as far as I am concerned. While Only Life has a smooth and polished production, Time For A Witness is a little rougher around the edges. There is definitely more grit and gravel on Time For A Witness. More feedback and a slightly rawer, bare bones production as well.
I just gave the whole album a fresh listen and I am still enamored with every song. If I have to pick a favorite track, I would say Decide. This song is drenched in feedback laden and distorted guitars, very similar to the Velvets. Catchy vocals and good rock n roll harmonies. Just enough noise to make it great, but not too much. Other standouts include Waiting, Find A Way, and What She Said. But deciding on favorites on this record is like choosing between shrimp and lobster, either way you come out a winner.
The only way to get Time For A Witness prior to the reissue was to buy it on the secondary market. We don’t have to do that any longer. We can get our own fresh copy from Bar/None Records. You may opt for a CD or Vinyl. Or both, if you choose. Time For A Witness reissue comes with 4 live bonus tracks similar to Only Life. If you missed your chance to obtain this years ago, you can redeem yourself now. No one can call themselves a rock n roll aficionado without this in their collection.