GREAT WHITE – Back To The Rhythm

  • 7/10
    GREAT WHITE - Back To The Rhythm - 7/10


Release Date: July 17, 2007

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Great White is back to celebrate their 25th anniversary with a new CD and even a line-up by many considered the original. Far from classic, the bass player is still missing from the line-up that in the 80s earned a Grammy, but Sean McNabb, today’s groover, has been with the band for a longer period of time than Tony Montana was anyway. The new CD, titled Back To The Rhythm, is the band’s first offering for Frontiers Records (in Europe) and Shrapnel Records (USA), and the band’s first studio record in 8 years. As some of you might know, the band has had its share of turmoil since 1999’s Can’t Get There From Here.

Sadly, Great White made its way into the history books in 2003 after an accident in Rhode Island where 100 people were killed in a blazing inferno –- an event that forever will be tied to the band’s name. But, before you think that the band and its label use this as a promotional tool years later, it must be stressed that the accident is NOT mentioned in Back To The Rhythm’s press sheet. Therefore, you can read this review at the Metal Express Radio site -– if the contrary was the case, the band and album would not have been supported(!). It’s one’s damn journalistic duty to mention the accident and remind people out there what happened –- much in order to prevent it from ever happening again -– that’s why this is brought up. But, as Great White and Frontiers make no fuzz about it, it’s now time to go on with the review.

Singer Jack Russell, guitarist Mark Kendall, McNabb, drummer Audie Desbrow and multi-everything Micheal Lardie don’t try to re-invent themselves … and why would they need to? The band simply picks up where they left off in 1999, both sound-wise and when it comes to the songwriting approach. If you ever got your hands on Jack Russell’s second solo disc, For You, released in 2002, you will also recognize the direction taken here; Back To The Rhythm simply lies somewhere in-between the last Great White CD and this one. If you expect another album like Hooked or Psycho City, you might be a little turned off by the band’s “grown up” and “mature” sound these days. Then again, if you’re willing to accept that the band looks forward and you always appreciated good hooks sung by one of the genre’s best singers, backed by a guitar player whose talent has been overlooked way too long (Mark Kendall plays with more feel and conviction than any technical shred monster out there) you should give this album a chance.

Back To The Rhythm has its charm, though Metalheadz might be a little scared by its mellow sound. The title track and “Here Goes My Head Again” sound like leftovers from the band’s Can’t Get There From Here sessions with Jack Blades – but here “leftovers” don’t mean that the songs are not up to par with the last album. “Was It The Night?” is one of those Blues moments where Mark Kendall totally lets loose and rips it up, like he did with “Old Rose Motel” and “House Of Broken Love,” and this is most likely the album’s strongest moment –- a future classic indeed. But, on the other hand, as much as that mentioned accident is overlooked in promoting the album, to include a song called “I’m Alive,” where the lyrics say: “I’m Alive/And It Feels So Right” – that might be a thorn in the eye to lots of people … ok, so our boys might have a renewed and healthier approach to life after what happened — and the album is indeed dedicated to the victims and their families — but, there sure are people out there who can never stop blaming the band and its crew for what happened (even if it was an accident and the club owners had cut corners and used material that easily caught fire).

Moving on, there’s “Still Hungry,” a song that could easily have found its way to any album from the band’s 80s catalog –- and no, that’s a compliment, not a way to put the band down as Metal Express Radio hails the 80s just as much as any other decade! “Standing On The Edge” is a Russell/Lardie collaboration that sounds related to “Rolling Stoned,” while album closer “Just Yesterday” is another mighty fine ballad from a band that knows how to write them; one can mention “Angel Song,” “Love Is A Lie,” and “Save Your Love” –- no further proof needed.

The most die hard fans out there will notice that two songs here are “old,” as both the titletrack and “Play On” were performed live and later released on the album Thank You … Goodnight!, a live album released in 2002, meant to be the band’s last. Also, for the same die hards, the CD comes in (at least) two different versions, one European with “30 Days In The Hole” (a Humble Pie cover), while the Americans get the Russell and Kendall penned “Cold World.” (Don’t be surprised if the Japanese version is different compared to these two). THIS MUST BE ADDRESSED, and it goes out to record company and management pigs (not the bands, and not Great White specifically as this is common practice these days): You are dead wrong in your way to try to make up for illegal downloading when you squeeze money out of the true fans in a Gene Simmons-like way. You make people buy three or more CDs from the same release because you don’t make one “complete” version available! And then, a few years down the road, you re-package everything into a complete version with even more songs and maybe a new cover, and you sell it again to the same collectors. This will work for a while, but in the end the die hard fans will stop and go ahead and buy a huge hard drive and collect MP3s like all the others! Then, what are you gonna do next???

So here’s your choice; Great White’s new album is worth buying if you like your Rock ‘n’ Roll the way it’s supposed to be, with outstanding vocals, great songwriting, awesome guitar playing -– but like mentioned, Back To The Rhythm is indeed more mellow than the band’s previous works. You have to choose carefully if you want the European, the US, or the Japanese version, though. Collecting CDs are for suckers!



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