Despite his dubious day job in flower-metallers Mr. Big, ex-Talas-man Billy Sheehan is widely regarded as one of the foremost four-string virtuosos the last 50 years of rock n’ roll have ever known. Yet for such a high billing and the handful of bass instructional videos to his name, Sheehan hadn’t released a solo album until now. Released in Japan earlier this year and now finding stateside release through Red Ink-distributed Favored Nations, Sheehan’s Compression is surprisingly flash-free but still busier than a bee (of course, given his rhythm-oriented proclivities) and actually displaying him as an accomplished tunesmith, the album’s songs, in some distant universe, sounding live pre-MTV (however brief) Yes-via-The Police had they instead written pop tunes • dynamic, cerebral, yet still undeniably catchy • but imbued with a sense of low-key alt-nation modernity (see the equally buzz-radio-ready “One Good Reason” and “Something’s Gotta Give”). The latter element, for better or worse, is compounded by Sheehan’s dry wheeze of a voice, conspicuously landing itself dangerously within Anthony Kiedis waters (and I don’t give a damn what the boys in In Flames said about Californication when it came out, the album blows!). But cut the man some slack • after all, he did record everything here himself aside from a few guest drum parts by legend Terry Bozzio and the guest solo on “Oblivion” by old Roth bandmate Steve Vai, where him and Sheehan engage in a solo-sparring match. Mostly recommended for Sheehan completists but perhaps capable of fringe potential, if Compression became a full-time band, we could yet see the second coming of The Police. Who’d a’thunk it?
Billy Sheehan: http://www.billysheehan.com