Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Talas ~ Live Speed On Ice (live)

(No official website.)
Style: hard rock
Label: Combat
Year: 1984
Home: New York (disbanded)

Members: Billy Sheehan ~ bass/vocals
Phil Naro ~ lead vocals
Mitch Perry ~ guitars/b. vocals
Mark Miller ~ drums

Before he became a influencial & iconized bass player with such groups as David Lee Roth with Steve Vai & Mr. Big, back in the 70's Billy Sheehan had his own heavy power trio called Talas that gained some fame in upstate New York. Talas recorded two albums over a near decade that would help get Sheehan gigs touring with other bands, such as UFO, before his own reputation eclipsed that of the band causing extended leaves of absence & with other other internal strifes Talas's guitarist & drummer left Sheehan for other musical pastures. Sheehan rebuilt the group as a quartet. Instead rotating vocal duties among all the members Talas would now feature a lead singer, though Sheehan would still take a few lead vocals. This new line-up was untraditionally debuted to the mass public via the live album High Speed On Ice, recorded in New York City December 1983. This new Talas, playing the same songs but with a slightly different feel, actually hearkened more towards what Sheehan would come to do with Mr. Big. Sadly, the new Talas also had less of a distinctive identity than its predeccessor as while all the playing is great, particularly from Sheehan whose furious & elaborate bass playing is more of a lead instrument, the songs themselves are just somewhat throw away early hair metal. But, to see the big picture of the career of a man who has been as influencial to bassists as Van Halen is to guitarists Talas is worth taking a peek at, including both the early trio & the later version. With Talas Sheehan was walking the same fusion & technically challenging turf as Yngwie Malmsteen (i.e. "Do You Feel Any Better") & Dream Theater (i.e. "The Farandole"), but with more emphasis on the bass than would be the habit of hard rock bands, or most bands for that matter, but perfectly at home in the jazz repertoire of Jaco Pastorius. The sad thing is the necessity of vocals & throw away lyrics that just pulls a cloud over the music distracting the ear from what it really wants & needs to hear. Phil Naro doesn't bring the same wildman feeling to the microphone as Sheehan does to the bass & the two don't feel like they are feeding off of each other as just being on the same stage together. The songs may not be the greatest & Sheehan is the obvious standout instrumentalist, but the live context allows him room to breathe in the ways that made him famous ... considering it's the live shows that made Talas popular over the previous decade not the two earlier studio recordings. "7718 (3A17)" features an extended bass solo that's a run of lines that causes one to forget its a bass & not a guitar. It's Jaco Pastorius without the funk. It's essentially what rock bassists weren't doing at the time. It's polarizing ... as now the bass could be seen in the traditional manner as a rhythm instrument staying out of the spotlight pounding out root notes & chord changes or as a lead instrument in its own right. No longer were bass solos something for jazz players. Having this debut to do over again my suggestion would be the addition of some new material as its all songs from the trio days written for a different style of playing & not allowing the new faces of Naro, Miller & Perry to have a chance to contribute in their own way to their full extent. They're somewhat trapped, but it'll take a comparison of previous albums with this live album to discover that. Eventually Sheehan would leave Talas but bassist Bruno Ravel would take the position for a short time. At this point in the band would be future Trans-Siberian Orchestra/Megadeth/Alice Cooper guitarist Al Pitrelli. When Ravel found himself becoming more popular with fans & accidentally making it public Sheehan stepped in &, owning the rights to the name, collapsed the band. Ravel would take Naro with him to form Hotshot, later reuniting with Pitrelli as the band became Danger Danger, who with a different singer & guitarist would find some modest cock rock/glam metal hits on MTV. Ironically, years later Talas guitarist Mitch Perry would eventually come to succeed Al Pitrelli in Asia. Also in the final Talas line-up with Pitrelli & Ravel was drummer Jimmy DeGrasso who'd go on to join Y&T & eventually recommend Pitrelli to join Megadeth. Sadly, no known recordings were made of the final Talas line-up, filling an important early stepping stone for all involved. Sheehan would reunite the original trio for a minor tour after finding commercial success.




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