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Sheehan, Billy: Prime Cuts

When I was a little kid of 12 or 13 years old, I had already been to about 20 concerts in the upstate, Poughkeepsie, NY area, and there was already the legend of this bass player from Buffalo, NY in this band called Talas. So when I had the chance to see Talas open up Blue Oyster Cult, I would finally get to see this guy.

Now, I had already begun playing guitar by this point, and knew what a great player was. I had already gotten 3 Robin Trower albums for Christmas when I was 10 years old, so I was kinda ahead of the curve!! Anyway, at that concert I found out that the bass players name was Billy Sheehan. He owned that stage that night, running around from side to side and playing like a maniac! The legend was WELL deserved. Not only did he do all of this amazing stuff without a pick, but he and the guitar player exchanged instruments, and Billy wailed on the guitar, too!!! Wow, what a show.

I saw Talas a few more times when they came through my hometown, and was never disappointed. They were a great band, but it was clear then that Billy was destined for bigger and better things. That Buffalo was a great testing ground, and the world was ready for Bad Billy, and so was David Lee Roth!

That brings me to today, over 20 years since I first saw Billy and the review of a CD that spans a great career. Billy Sheehan Prime Cuts (Magna Carta) is a 9 track CD that showcases the awesome body of work that Billy has provided with his Progressive/Fusion band, Niacin, a Rush tribute record, to songs with drummer extraordinaire, Terry Bozzio. This CD has a who's who of musicians on it including; Jordan Rudess, Steve Morse, Mike Portnoy and Steve Howe. No Roth or Mr.Big in here, this is a musician's fan record with chops galore.

The CD starts off with Niacin track, "Elbow Grease", which showcases some of Billy's jazzier side chops and leads into another, "Sugar Blues", another Niacin song. For anyone that has never heard Niacin, they are well worth checking out. Progressive Rock/Fusion with a splash of blues and fun mixed in. You won't be disappointed! The Rush classic, "The Trees" featuring Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy on drums, is a stand out song on here for sure. Originally on the Rush tribute CD, Working Man, Billy gets to put on his Geddy Lee hat and pay homage to another bass legend. Just a great version of a great song! My favorite song on this CD, "Crack The Meter" from Jordan Rudess' CD, Feeding The Wheel, features guitar god Steve Morse and the aforementioned drum master, Terry Bozzio. The rhythm section of Sheehan and Bozzio is just SO tight. I hope that they can somehow work together again. What a great combination they are, and with 2 notes Steve Morse is instantly recognized. Can anyone do a chromatic guitar line like Steve Morse?! This is the rocker of the bunch. If this record doesn't make you want to play an instrument!!

Prime Cuts is just that. The best of Billy Sheehan in more of a Progressive Rock role than that of the more commercial vein that some might only know him from. From Niacin, to a Rush tribute, to even the nicely included "bootleg" bass solo from 1994, Billy Sheehan shows that the legend that was talked about to that 12 year old kid wasn't wrong. It has been a pleasure to watch Billy's career flourish and take all of the twists and turns that it has. A true instrument innovator!! And I STILL have the guitar pick that I caught when Billy switched to play guitar that night with Blue Oyster Cult!

Track Listing
1) Elbow Grease
2) Sugar Blues
3) Sub Continent
4) The Trees
5) Clean Up Crew/Do A Little Dirty Work
6) Crack The Meter
7) Time Enough (More Than Enough Mix)
8) Super Grande
9) Bass Solo (Buffalo 1994)

Added: August 20th 2006
Reviewer: Butch Jones
Related Link: Billy Sheehan Website
Hits: 2506
Language: english

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