Great White – Back To The Rhythm (2007, Shrapnel)
- Back To The Rhythm
- Here Goes My Head Again
- Take Me Down
- Play On
- Was It The Night?
- I’m Alive
- Still Hungry
- Standin’ On The Edge
- How Far Is Heaven?
- Cold World
- Just Yesterday
Jack Russell – Vocals
Mark Kendall – Guitars
Michael Lardie – Keyboards & Guitars
Sean McNabb – Bass
Audie Desbrow – Drums
Total Time – 56:20
Great White is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary by reuniting the classic band lineup and releasing the group’s first album in over eight years, BACK TO THE RHYTHM. The last few years haven’t been kind to the band due to their involvement in the tragic fire at The Station Nightclub in 2003. Some time has passed and, even though the tragedy is still fresh in so many lives, the band has moved forward.
This new record is not the Great White of the late ’80s, there are no hair metal stylings or overblown playing. Instead the band has updated their sound using the most simple dynamic of creating good quality songs and keeping things simple. Nothing is overdone, it’s a basic blues-based sound that has a thickness, a rawness, to it that gives the music that Hard Rock edge. There are flashes of the ’80s era Great White within the music but it’s used in combination with the current direction. The production is flawless, every instrument is clear. The biggest plus is the acoustic guitar underneath everything providing a richness to the over all sound. Jack Russell is in fine voice throughout the album. If you compare his voice now to the ’80s version, you’ll notice that he’s aged but he is strong as ever. His voice is smooth all over these songs with that touch of grit that he’s always possessed. The lyrics are upbeat on some songs, darker on others. Obviously autobiographical of what the band, particularly Jack Russell, has been through in the last few years. You can hear sadness, regret, happiness, and excitement in each song…..a full range of emotion that makes the album more personal.
‘Back To The Rhythm’ gets things going in an upbeat fashion, this is definitely the “comeback” song lyrically and musically. It’s full of Hard Rock energy and gets the toe tapping and head nodding, the band is definitely back to making feel good music. Same thing with ‘Here Goes My Head Again’. The music is uptempo and you can feel the energy. Music and vocals in perfect sync, Russell has a great haunting style during the verses.
‘Take Me Down’ is very slow and bluesy mid-tempo number with a nice big chorus while ‘Play On’ is one of the best Great White ballads I’ve ever heard. ‘Play On’ has some great piano and acoustic guitar along with a very emotive vocal, one of my favorite songs on the album. More superb guitar work from Mark Kendall starts ‘Was It The Night?’ Another slower song that has power and emotion and it builds up to the chorus.
Another mid-tempo song is another major highlight of the album: ‘I’m Alive’ is a celebration of life and another of my favorites off this record. Nothing is over the top, it’s all quality music that just bleeds emotion and heart. Great guitar solo too. ‘Still Hungry’ is a blues rocker that combines the updated sound with it’s ’80s past. It’s almost a throwback to the early ’80s without the guitar heroics…..a very solid song. Same goes for ‘Standin’ On The Edge’, I could envision this song as a single and video back in the day. You can hear the band open up a bit more on this track. They let loose a little more and Jack’s vocal is right on the brink of that old ONCE BITTEN era style.
Another ballad, ‘How Far Is Heaven?’, is another solid performance by the band. Acoustic guitars layered under the electric, everything understated while Russell puts in my one of my favorite vocals of the album. I’m not as big on ‘Neighborhood’ as I’d like to be. I like it musically but the lyrics just seem to be lacking. It’s not a bad song at all, it just doesn’t hook me like the rest have so far. Same thing with ‘Cold World’. I really like the guitar lines throughout the song but overall it doesn’t grab me. Both are uptempo and sound great but there seems like something is missing compared to the previous nine tracks. All is forgiven with the final cut, ‘Just Yesterday’. Another acoustically driven ballad that just sounds beautiful, no other word to describe it.
Don’t call it a comeback…..call it a MAJOR COMEBACK! Honestly, I didn’t expect an album of near flawless quality from a band that has seen more tragedy and turmoil in the last four years than any other. With all the outside pressures and concerns, the band has created a long overdue masterpiece. Favorite songs: ‘Back To The Rhythm’, ‘Here Goes My Head Again’, ‘Play On’, ‘I’m Alive’ and ‘Just Yesterday’. I like the whole album, even the two songs I’m not hooked on (‘Neighborhood’ & ‘Cold World’) still have more than enough positive qualities to give them a thumbs up. This isn’t ONCE BITTEN or TWICE SHY era Great White, this is a seasoned veteran Hard Rock band making music relative to where they are physically and emotionally. This album will easily make my Top Ten of 2007.