If We Only Knew Then What We Know Now

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Talas is now only known as bass ace Billy Sheehan's launch pad, but this Buffalo herd from the early '80s actually keeps up with many of the post-boogie bands of that period. This live disc, recorded at a brief resurrection in late 1997, hits the highs of the band's tasteful, if undistinguished, catalogue. Hard rock heads will find something to cling to immediately, as the playing is undeniably excellent, highlighting quaint turns-of-phrase which evoke classic rock that has rolled past; but like the dude on the back cover, it's easy to get distracted by the antiquated rites of concert rituals such as drum solos. Luckily, stick-man Paul Varga keeps his solo brief, prefacing a crippling version of the crimson cocktail "21st Century Schizoid Man" (which doesn't swig enough April Wine, but swings nonetheless). Talas also serves up some nice pop confections in "See Saw" and "Most People," plus the nifty and neurotic "Shy Boy" (spit out by Diamond Dave on Eat 'Em & Smile). With obvious exceptions (Kick out the Jams), concert records carry limited historical impact, and DVD renders the audio souvenir completely unnecessary, but for those that made this show and the multitude that didn't, If We Only Knew Then What We Know Now delivers tasty album rock for folks who still crave such indulgences, and is, foremost, a fine showcase for a sharp band that narrowly missed the big time.

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