We lay our weapons down to rest
This war ain't over
'Till all the people will be free
Straight from our hearts we cry
This war has stolen too many lives
Cause for sake of freedom we will die
Our sons will carry on"
One Word Review: Winning
After the superb concert at FEEL last week, I've been hooked on Mike Tramp and White Lion.
Back in 1989, after the multi platinum success of Pride and a long world tour, the pressure was on and the band headed straight into the studio, where they wrote and recorded Big Game in a very short time. The album still sparkles with creativity and enthusiasm and holds up very well.
White Lion play hard rock and their songs are varied in both musical and lyrical content. Subjects range from political and world issues through to love and partying. Usually the lyrics take a serious angle. The genius guitarist Vito Bratta and Mike Tramp's expressive voice are the two most immediate ingredients that set the band apart from the rest. Greg D'Angelo on drums and James Lomenzo on bass deliver a tight rhythm section and work as a solid backbone.
The guitar work of Vito Bratta deserves a special mention. His playing feels natural and he infuses the songs with a vigor that is not often heard. Scattered through the songs are an abundance of cool licks that gives the music an element of surprise. Living on the edge and Don't say it's over are prime examples of this.
Opening the album, Goin' Home Tonight has an undeniable happy vibe to it that is bound to get you in a good mood. The guitar work is really enticing and varied with lots of little touches in each verse. Mike Tramp's voice is filled with a yearning that gives the song a stronger impact.
White Lion have always excelled at their ballads and Broken Home is among their best. It is an incredibly emotional song. I love the sombre bridge section in the first two verses and the guitar solo, which screams of desperation. The way Mike sings the second to last line at 4:37 always gets me. That moment captures the essence of the song.
It seems like every White Lion album has a break up song. Don't say it's over is a personal favorite. I’m totally in love with the brilliant chorus, where the repeated title line adds a special, intense drive to the song, gently pushed forward by the controlled guitar riff. Sweet harmony there. The bridge sections provide a great lead to the chorus and the way Mike heads into each of these at 0:46 and 1:46 adds a ton of emotion to the song. A White Lion classic.
The catchy Little Fighter (In memory of The Rainbow Warrior) has an upbeat feel to it and is carried by inspired guitar work. It is a song that works on several levels.
If my mind is evil takes a darker turn, with a heavy riff and a vocal performance by Mike that is angry and intense. Through time, this song has grown immensely and is currently among my favorites.
If there was only one word to describe Living on the edge then it would have to be cool. The song has a carefree attitude and I find it impossible to sit still when the chorus arrives. Oh, and just listen to that guitar solo. Aahhh…
Less interesting tracks include the rather static Dirty Woman , Let's get crazy and Baby be mine. Dirty Woman opens with some splendid guitar work, based on a great riff, but the rest of the song fails to excite me in the same way. Baby be mine is all nice and sweet, but it runs around in the same circle too many times. Let's get crazy is a slick party tune that fails to leave a lasting impression.
Cry for freedom is a highlight of the album and one of my absolute favorite White Lion songs. The song takes on an ethereal atmosphere as the first words are sung. It is one of those moments where I get a clear image in my mind. The pulsating guitar notes and the light drumming keep this atmosphere intact through the song. An effective and powerful ending to the album.
A theme runs through many of the lyrics about being strong, fighting for what you believe in, looking past lies and deceit and finding the inner strength to do the right thing. No matter if Mike Tramp is singing about love, divorce, apartheid, sunken ships, the environment, TV preachers or just living it up, there is an air of honesty to the lyrics that is charming.
Big Game is a great album. It is varied and has that special feel to it that is both nostalgic and bound to get you in a good mood.
Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2012 - Added music video for Radar Love
Cry For Freedom