CD Reviews

Winger - 'Karma' Hot

Added by James Gaden     February 17, 2010    
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Strong fifth album from the talnted American outfit.


Thanks (well, perhaps not!) to the relentless vitriolic bile of 90’s animated antiheroes Beavis and Butt-head, Winger will forever be seen as a bunch of preening wusses by some – strange really as probably House Of Lords aside, they were arguably the most musically adept melodic rock act to come out of the 80’s US hard rock explosion. Technically they were as tight as anyone, and whilst yes it’s perhaps fair to say that their first two albums could be considered fairly stereotypical of the day, they really flexed their musical muscles with 93’s criminally underrated ‘Pull’ opus.

When Kip Winger and the rest of the band returned a couple of years back with the imaginatively titled ‘IV’ opus, in some respects they took ‘Pull ‘ to the next level; dark, disparate mood swings and lyrical eloquence combining perfectly to reaffirm their desire to be taken seriously as musicians. Not surprisingly then, it divided opinions with some branding it a huge disappointment, whilst others (and I count myself amongst the latter) strongly applauding the band for sticking to their guns and refusing to take the easy option.

A tad lengthy as intros go perhaps, but it brings us rather nicely to the imminent release of the fifth Winger studio album ‘Karma’. Now, I doubt there are many out there expecting a return to the candyfloss sounds of ‘Winger’ or ‘In The Heart Of The Young’; and in that respect, the majority would be right. However, what Kip and the band have tried to do on ‘Karma’ is to create a balance between the strong melodic sensibilities of those first two releases, and the weightier musical sophistication that came after – and do you know what? As far as I can tell they seem to have hit the nail squarely on the head!

Kicking off with the rip-snorting ‘Deal With The Devil’, its readily apparent that there’s been some sort of paradigm shift within the Winger camp, as this is a full blooded, rabble rousing rocker of the old school. And in essence, it typifies the rest of the album because although there are plenty of tempo shifts, mood changes and dark twists and turns before we get to closing epic ‘Witness’, that same upbeat outlook permeates throughout.

Star of the show for me is Reb Beach (step forward and take a bow sir!) who puts in an at times truly sizzling performance, his deft licks and kerosene fuelled runs driving the likes of ‘Stone Cold Killer’, ‘Always Within Me’, ‘Pull Me Under’ and ‘Feeding Frenzy’ with real venom. Great lyrics, strong (by that I mean catchy) melodies, and a real sense of passion shine throughout ‘Karma’, and if the intention really was to create a hybrid sound between the debut and ‘Pull’ I doubt they could have done it better.

Dave Cockett


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