Second in a two-part review of the 1989 compilation CD, Billy Sheehan – The Talas Years. Part one is here: Sink Your Teeth Into That. More Talas tomorrow!
When we last met Talas, they were a power trio. On their 1984 live album, they were a quartet. Billy Sheehan was the only remaining member of the original lineup, with some hot talent behind him: Mark Miller on drums, Mitch Perry (MSG) on guitar, and the hugely talented Phil Naro singing. Naro has been around, including a stint with Peter Criss. (You can hear a number of his performances on Mitch Lafon’s Kiss tribute CD A World With Heroes.)
There is little question that Naro’s voice brings the songs to another level. “Sink Your Teeth Into That” benefits from his young rasp. Mitch Perry throws in a more articulated guitar solo for an extended section leaving Billy to hold down the riff. Second in line is a new song, “Crystal Clear” which has a biting Police guitar riff. The busy bass holds down the melodic center as Naro soars on top. Live Speed on Ice has great value, since much of its material was actually brand new and never released on anything else. “The Farandole” is another new one, an instrumental of jaw-dropping ability. Dueling bass and guitars dance and parry while the drums hit the heavy blows.
More new tunes: “Do You Feel Any Better”, “Lone Rock”, and “Inner Mounting Flame” continue the ass-kicking streak. Each has their own groove, but “Inner Mounting Flame” truly is live speed on ice. A few older tracks from the album are solid winners: “King of the World”, “High Speed on Ice” and of course “Shy Boy”, the one Talas song that people know today thanks to David Lee Roth. Billy’s signature bass solo is also performed live (and extended), but cleverly retitled. While “NVH 3345” meant “SHEEHAN” upside down, “7718 (3A17)” means “BILL (LIVE)”. With the freedom of the live setting, Bill took his time to showcase some unheard of chops and effects.
Any album that has Billy Sheehan on bass is bound to include a thousand notes of pure thrills, and any record with Phil Naro is going to sound awesome vocally. Therefore, Live Speed on Ice should be a welcome addition to the discerning rock fan’s personal library. The easiest way to get it is on CD combined with Sink Your Teeth Into That as the 1989 compilation Billy Sheehan – The Talas Years. Either way, you win.