Great White – Back To The Rhythm (2007)

Great White - Back To The Rhythm (2007)

Great White – Back To The Rhythm (2007, Shrapnel)

  1. Back To The Rhythm
  2. Here Goes My Head Again
  3. Take Me Down
  4. Play On
  5. Was It The Night?
  6. I’m Alive
  7. Still Hungry
  8. Standin’ On The Edge
  9. How Far Is Heaven?
  10. Neighborhood
  11. Cold World
  12. Just Yesterday

Great White 2007 lineup

Band Lineup:
Jack Russell – Vocals
Mark Kendall – Guitars
Michael Lardie – Keyboards & Guitars
Sean McNabb – Bass
Audie Desbrow – Drums

Producer:
Michael Lardie

Total Time – 56:20

Great White official website
The Station Family Fund

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.

Bottom Line:
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.

New column coming – WANTED

I was going through my collection the other day making lists of albums I do not own and the idea for a new column appeared.

WANTED is the new column’s name and the idea is basically like a Wanted poster: The picture of an album I don’t own and want, the details underneath will be the reasons why I don’t own it & why I want it, and maybe some personal notes if I’ve come across it before, etc.

If I end up acquiring it, I’ll update the Wanted post with a link to the CD Scavenger Hunt I found it on.

There are going to be some glaring omissions of obvious classics that are WANTED so I hope there will be some extra comments.

—Steve

Ebay Madness – Klaatu, Magnus, Graham Bonnet, Misslead, Tigertailz, & Noize Toys

Klaatu – Strange (1991) sells for $543!

Klaatu - Strange (199) for $543
All I know about Klaatu is that they are from Poland and they play a blend of AOR/Hard Rock. This seller is a highly regarded collector, everything he buys and sells is of top quality and are original CDs only. This CD was pressed in small quantities on a Polish label making it very rare…..but $543 is steep! This auction started at $5 and got 15 bids.

Magnus – I Was Watching My Death (1992) ends at $255!

Magnus - I Was Watching My Death (1991) auction ends at $255
Let’s stay in Poland and go harder with some Death metal. This is Magnus’ second album and it was also pressed in small quanitites (500 copies) making it a rare find. It’s a popular one because it got 16 bids and only started at a meager $9.99.

Graham Bonnet – The Rock Singer’s Anthology (1990) gets $203.51!

Graham Bonnet - Anthology (1990) for $203.51
I own this! I own this! Sorry for the excitement but I am very surprised that this sells for $200+ at auction. I bought my CD for $20 back in 1999 when Graham released THE DAY I WENT MAD (1999) and the local shop started stocking all Graham’s solo albums in the “Japanese Import” section. This isn’t a Japanese import, this is a regular CD made in Europe on the Vertigo label from 1990. This is a decent CD for Bonnet collectors as it touches his work from The Marbles, to his solo career, and on to Rainbow. This auction started at $1. One freaking dollar! 25 bids on this one from some people with serious feedback so it must be rare now. I saw a copy about six months ago in a store about 30 minutes from my house, maybe I’ll stop by this weekend and see if it’s still there…..

Misslead – Gentle Persuasion (1989) ends with BUY IT NOW for $150!

Misslead - Gentle Persuasion (1989) auction for $150
I’ve seen this CD go for over $300 a few times over the years so $150 is a bargain for collectors. Not surprised that this ended right away with BUY IT NOW. I’ve never heard Misslead but I’ve read they play a blend of Hard Rock/AOR that many top collectors rave about.

Tigertailz – Young And Crazy (1987) ends at $122.50!

Tigertailz - Young & Crazy (1987) for $122.50
This is the Japanese version on Music For Nations with the different artwork. That’s got to be why this CD was so expensive. The Combat Records version with the band picture cover art usually runs between $25 and $50 on CD, Between $5 and $25 on vinyl.

Noize Toys – Fallin’ In Lust…..Again (1989) ends at $115.10!

Noize Toys - Fallin’ In Lust…Again (1989) for $115.10
Another band that I’ve never heard but I know gets big dollars from collectors. From what I’ve read this is pure Sleaze Glam and was only released in Japan, obviously rare in the U.S. The dealer is one of the better sellers from Japan so this is a quality product. 13 bids and it started at $2.

Magnus – Scarlet Slaughterer (1992) sells for $113.50!

Magnus - Scarlet Slaughterer for $113.50
Same seller as the Magnus CD above. Same story as the other Magnus disc…..it’s hard to find. A little research shows that this is a compilation of Magnus’ demo tapes and that is was rereleased in 1996 with six bonus songs on Reaper Metal Records. The auction doesn’t state if this is the rerelease from ’96 but the research I did showed the original 1992 version as a demo cassette. Started at $9.99 again and got 11 bids.

Extra Blog Love for the Hard Rock Hideout

I gave some Blog Love to the Hard Rock Hideout back in February but I wanted to add a little extra.

My main man Rob, from Hard Rock Hideout, asked me to be a guest writer this week while he’s enjoying some time off. I agreed but I unfortunately couldn’t come through. I hurt my right arm at work and it’s in a sling so typing is a long process using one finger on my left hand.

The good news is there are some other Metal writers dropping in the Hideout with guests posts: Bill from Rock Of Ages is in first with a review of the new Sacred Heart album, SHAKE. Metal Mark from the Heavy Metal Time Machine is second with a Lita Ford review.

But I have to give Rob the kudos for his Forum, especially the Hard Rock Trivia section. There are some insane questions being thrown out that even Google can’t answer! Luckily, I’m better at answering trivia than I am making it up for my own site.

So head on over to the site and check it out…..and just try to beat me at the trivia!

— Steve

Weekend playlist

Nothing beats another weekend off from work! Especially when another week’s vacation starts in four days! I got to listen to some great albums, and some disasters, over the last couple of days, here’s the list:

  • Great White – Back to The Rhythm (2007): I’m still enjoying this new album, a review is coming this week.
  • Stryper – The Roxx Regime Demos 1983 (2007): I haven’t given this proper time in the stereo. I’m also comparing it to their debut, THE YELLOW AND BLACK ATTACK (1984). Review is coming.
  • Stryper – The Yellow And Black Attack (1984): Refreshing my memory and comparing to the Roxx Regime Demos.
  • Peter Criss – One For All (2007): Giving this one last listen before it’s filed away. (The review is posted just before this one.)
  • Gene Simmons – Asshole (2004): I listened to this a couple of times when it first came out and I haven’t revisited it yet. I’ve been listening to Peter’s new record, and Paul’s latest still gets regular spins, so I decided now was the time to give Asshole another try. I’ll review this soon.
  • Van Halen – VH III (1998): After reading a post at Bring Back Glam debating this record/lineup, I decided to pull this one out. It wasn’t Gary Cherone’s fault, it was Eddie’s.
  • Rough Cutt – s/t (1985): Thanks to the insane trivia at the Hard Rock Hideout, Rob’s got me busting out some Rough Cutt! Seriously, when has anyone given serious thought to Rough Cutt lately?

Peter Criss – One For All (2007)

Peter Criss - One For All (2007)

Peter Criss – One For All (2007, Silvercat Records)

  1. One For All
  2. Doesn’t Get Better Than This
  3. Last Night
  4. What A Difference A Day Makes
  5. Hope
  6. Faces In The Crowd
  7. Send In The Clowns
  8. Falling All Over Again
  9. Whisper
  10. Heart Behind These Hands
  11. Memories
  12. Space Ace

Musicians:
Peter Criss, Mike McLaughlin, Paul Shaffer, Will Lee, Mark Montague, Clifford Carter

Backup Singers:
Jennifer Johnson, All Boys Choir from the Church of Transfiguration

Producer:
Peter Criss

Total Time – 50:40

Peter Criss official website

Peter Criss has made it well known that his influences range far and wide, from Big Band, Swing, Doo-Wop, Jazz, Rockabilly, and Motown, to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Peter has always told fans and press that his biggest influences came from the likes of Gene Krupa, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett et al. That said, Peter Criss has created an album that touches on all of his influences and styles. If you are looking for a pure Rock album, this isn’t it. It’s mellow, light, more akin to what Peter enjoys rather than what he is well known for.

ONE FOR ALL is inspired by the tragedy in New York City on 9/11/01 (check out the album cover) but it is also an autobiographical piece. Peter puts his heart and soul into the album. The lyrics are insightful and reflective and the music is exceptional. Peter surrounded himself with some of the most professional musicians in the business and it shows in the music, excellent sounds from the piano to the guitar to the drums.

The only problem I have is Peter’s vocals. While Peter has a good raspy Rock voice, his current crooning approach sometimes doesn’t fit the music appropriately. You can also easily pick out the parts where Peter is totally out of tune and/or adds a little extra styling that just doesn’t gel (see ‘Faces In The Crowd’). The effort is certainly there, the heart is definitely in the right place, the ability or quality isn’t in certain songs.

The package is very good. The album artwork was designed by Peter, as was the inner and back photos. I get the “one for all” concept with the Earth and the international flags as a border. What i didn’t notice until I bought the album was the two”L’s” in ALL are the Twin Towers. I’ve had the artwork posted on this site for awhile and I just noticed this! I get the tribute to the victims of 9/11 but what’s with the airplane? Of course, there is the all important autograph that came on the limited edition. I was expecting one of those stamped signatures but this was actually done with a black Sharpie inside the booklet. There is also a gold sticker on the jewel case that reads: “Limited Edition. Individually Hand Signed By The Legendary PETER CRISS.” The booklet also has the full lyrics.

Bottom Line:
I was going to go song by song with this review but I’d really be saying the same thing on all the songs: excellent music, spotty vocals, and the style is more Sinatra than KISS. The style is not what a KISS fan is used to. If you’re looking for KISS, Hard Rock, or even Peter’s solo album from 1978, then you are going to be disappointed. If you are adventurous and can accept the total turnaround in style then you may enjoy this. For me, there’s not enough Rock, it’s too light. Best song on the album: ‘Doesn’t Get Better Than This’. Definitely Peter’s best vocal on the record and his counterpart in Jennifer Johnson is superb. Overall, a good solid effort at doing something he loves. Peter Criss has created an album that comes from the heart and is inspired by all of his influences. It’s definitely not a Rock album but it was never supposed to be in the first place. Of all the latest solo output from the original KISS members, I would rank ONE FOR ALL behind Paul Stanley’s LIVE TO WIN from 2006, and way above Gene Simmons’ ASSHOLE (2004). This album is for Peter Criss diehards, and KISS completists, only.

Getting Back To The Rhythm

(Metal Mark at the Heavy Metal Time Machine invited me to be a guest blogger while he was on vacation. This is what I wrote and posted on July 25th. I’m re-posting it here because I recently hurt my right arm at work and I can’t type. I also can’t do much as I’m right-handed. For those who didn’t read it yet…..enjoy. For those who have…..I should have a new fresh post by week’s end…..that’s how long it’s taking me to type with one finger on my left hand!  — Steve)

—————————————-

 Getting Back To The Rhythm

On Thursday February 20, 2003, a concert was scheduled at The Station Nightclub in West Warwick, RI. The band headlining…..Great White. As the band opened the set, pyrotechnics went off and ignited the soundproofing foam around the stage. Within seconds, the club was ablaze. The aftermath: 100 lives lost and more than 200 injuries.

I was a regular at The Station. When concerts came to town, I was usually there. I saw some great bands: Saxon, U.D.O., Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P. and always had a good time. When the Great White show was announced, my wife and I decided to go. We had been fans of the band since the days of ‘Save Your Love’ and ‘Rock Me’ so this was going to be a really great show. With a week’s notice, we lined up a babysitter, I took the night off from work and we planned a pre-show dinner. The one thing we didn’t do was buy tickets. You could always grab tickets the day of the show for The Station but that Thursday morning we decided to cancel our plans and just stay home.

Hindsight being 20/20, it was probably the best decision we ever made.

I used to listen to Great White a lot, they were one of my favorite bands. Their style of bluesy Hard Rock struck a chord and I went out and bought ONCE BITTEN (1987) after I heard ‘Rock Me’ on local radio. As the years went on, I became a big fan and picked up all their albums. Over the years, many memories became attached to the songs. After the fire, it was hard to listen to the band’s music. Now there was a stigma attached to it. Hearing a Great White song didn’t remind me of the good times I’d had, it only reminded me of the fire and the lives lost. Lives lost of people I didn’t know but had a kinship with through the music. It also made me think of the “what ifs”: What if we had gone to the show?, What if we had been in that fire?, etc. It took three years before I could listen to Great White again.

This past Tuesday (July 17), Great White released their comeback album BACK TO THE RHYTHM and I was at the store first thing in the morning so I could pick up a copy. For some reason I had a serious urge to buy this album. I wanted to hear what the band could create after so much had happened, to hear the possible train-wreck that the album could be. What I bought was a solid Hard Rock album. I put it on in the car and immeadiately got into it. So I’m driving, and listening, and enjoying. I had that good feeling that you can only get from a good song. It was then I understood that it wasn’t the music that caused the fire, it wasn’t the songs that killed and injured people like me. The music didn’t cause anything, mistakes made by many people did. I had gone a few years without listening to Great White and hearing this new record made me realize that it was time to get back to the rhythm. Music is a celebration of life and it is meant to be enjoyed.