CD Reviews

White Lion - 'Pride' / 'Big Game' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 25, 2016    
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'Pride' is a must-have but 'Big Game' is for completists only.

There were several bands back in the eighties who had a lot more about them than most of the genre they're associated with, so while Great White mostly played seventies Blues Rock, Winger were far too eclectic and talented to be run of the mill Hair Metal, and Cinderella had a cultured acoustic Blues side to their catalogue, White Lion certainly offered far more than Van Halen riffs and a Marmite singer.

After a clueless major label had refused to release their hard-hitting 'Fight To Survive' debut, Atlantic finally picked up the band in 1987 and scored highly with 'Pride', selling over two million records in the process. A wonderful album it was too, with more hooks than a fishing tackle shop, the Pop sensibilities flowing through tracks like 'Hungry', 'Lonely Nights' and the acoustic US super-hit ballad 'When The Children Cry'. There are no clunkers here, just ten great Rock songs culminating in the ultra-catchy 'Wait', the guitar brilliance of the multi-paced 'Lady Of The Valley' and the infectious one-two of 'Don't Give Up' and the glorious 'Sweet Little Loving'.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Guitarist Vito Bratta delivered a masterclass of tuneful guitar histrionics, the husky Dane Mike Tramp could certainly carry a tune (despite what some might say!), and bassist James LoMenzo and drummer Greg D'Angelo were a rhythm section to die for. Michael Wagener's production is a little inconsistent but this re-master sounds great, much more satisfyingly meaty than the original, whilst the five bonus tracks are an excellent extended re-mix of 'Wait' and raw live versions of 'All You Need Is Rock N Roll', '...Nights', '...Valley' and 'Tell Me'. They're a nice bonus but the better sounding main album would have been enough.

Suffering the same fate as Quiet Riot, Skid Row, Mötley Crüe and countless others, White Lion were sent straight back into the studio in 1989 to replicate a successful record, and like the others, tour fatigue and a lack of finished songs put paid to that success happening again. However, listening to 'Big Game' all these years later suggests that it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time. Sure, there are some fillers, like 'Dirty Woman' and the version of 'Radar Love', but there are some adventurous songs like the menacing 'If My Mind Is Evil' and the anti-apartheid ballad 'Cry For Freedom'. 'Little Fighter' is a great Rocker and 'Goin' Home Tonight' is a lively enough opener, but on the whole the album was Poppier, albeit with a bigger sounding rhythm section. The three live bonus tracks all come from the previous album and probably the same show as the 'Pride' bonuses, with '...Cry' actually topping the studio version and 'Wait' and 'All Join Our Hands' both showing what an amazing guitarist Bratta was, and probably still is. 'Pride' is a must-have but 'Big Game' is for completists only.

Phil Ashcroft

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