Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Great White-Elation

Frontiers Records

Let me start off this review by saying that I have mixed feelings about Great White. Some days I feel like they were/are highly overrated while other times I feel like people write them off too easily and that they are underrated. There are a few Great White songs that I just love like "Rock Me" and their choice cover of Ian Hunter's "Once Bitten, Twice Shy". But, there are also more than a few songs that I find terribly lame and I've never been able to sit through a whole album by them without feeling the need to hit "next". So, given that information you can easily see why I approached this new album with hesitation. First off all it's hard to believe that "Elation" is the band’s 12th studio album. Kind of makes sense as they were formed in 1977. I just find it weird that they have managed to release that many albums and off hand I've only heard bits and pieces from about four Great White albums tops. That said it is sort of a funny thing that just the other day (thanks to Youtube) I was listening to some tracks off of Great White's "Stick It". For a band that started out playing real heavy metal (some of the cuts reminded me of Ratt) they really seemed to lose their way fast. Of course given the state of the eighties it's not that surprising. In hindsight it was either change or cash in your chips for most hard rock/ heavy metal bands. If you were not playing hair metal/glam or some form of pop metal then your chances of eking out a living were slim to none. What a weird time that was when it was either you played hair metal or thrash. Anything else just wasn't selling tickets. Anyway, here we are in 2012 and for Great White the years have not been kind. It would take the 2003' Station nightclub fire for the band to make headlines again and obviously that is not the way you want to get your name in the papers. For awhile though, with things quieting down, it seemed as if Great White might work things out. In fact the group re-formed with a lineup of Russell, Kendall, Lardie, McNabb and Desbrow hitting the road. For whatever reason (ego problems, money concerns, etc.?) though original vocalist Jack Russell decided to form a new incarnation of Great White. With a new backing band in place he is now playing out as "Jack Russell's Great White." So, now you have Jack Russell using the Great White name and then there is this Great White. While we let the courts figure it all out (since that is bound to be the end result-lawsuits and counter lawsuits) we have this Great White featuring original members Mark Kendall (guitar), Michael Lardie (guitar, keyboards) and Audie Desbrow (drums). They are joined by lead singer Terry Ilous (XYZ) and bassist Scott Snyder. According to Scott Snyder's website he has worked with Andy Johns, Simon Phillips, Derek Sherinian, Johnny Gioeli, Kelly Hanson, Josh Ramos, Terry Ilous and Dave Moreno. Interesting. Will this new blood infusion help or hurt the band? Does a Terry Ilous-fronted Great White have the same sort of impact? Well, "Elation" does sound like Great White and yet it doesn't. Take the first two tracks for example "(I've Got) Something For You" had me thinking about Ohio's own The Godz. With "Feelin' So Much Better" it was AC/DC. "Elation", which was produced by the band's own Michael Lardie, is very likely to evoke similar feelings in other listeners. At it's heart it is very much a rock/hard rock album borrowing from the greats like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. Come to think of it the old Great White borrowed from these same bands so maybe it is just the way Great White operates? For what it counts lead singer Terry Ilous sounds good and the band compliments his voice. Is there anything here that screams "hit"? Not really, but for those who have followed Great White through thick and thin the album's style of guitar-based/ blues-influenced hard rock is as solid as ever. That old familiar sound is still intact. No worries there for die hard fans. And for those who want ballads? Same thing as I suspect a track like "Love Is Enough" will end up being fully embraced by the Great White faithful. By the time album closer "Complicated" rolled around (with it's keyboard playing it sounds so much like late eighties Great White that I had flash backs to high school!) I realized that this is the first Great White album I've listened to from start to finish in a long time. It might be the only one for all I know. That is possible. Did it change my opinion of them? Not really I'd say. I still can't decide if I find them leaders or followers. I can't decide if their good, bad, ugly or a little of all of the above. Sorry about that Great White. It is what it is. So, studio-album number 12, "Elation", likely won't put Great White back in the headlines again, but in the end there is a good bet that it will please it's fan base. For Great White, at this point in the game, that might just have to do.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home