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CD review MR. BIG "Defying Gravity"

Veröffentlicht am 15. Juli 2017 von Markus W. in Mr. Big, Paul Gilbert, Hardrock, Rock, Frontiers Music, CD Review

CD review MR. BIG "Defying Gravity"

(9/10)  Two weeks ago it was Riverdogs that released their well-crafted new longplayer “California”, followed now be another dinosaur in rock – Mr. Big. Eric Martin, Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey and Paul Gilbert did it again. Three years after having shipped the first copies of “...the Stories We Could Tell” to the record stores, a new longplayer follows. Unfortunately Torpey couldn’t do all songs for the album due to the recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease but he’s is still a crucial part of the band with Matt Starr filling in for him when needed. That's true team-spirit. Next to the musicians it’s Kevin Elson who added to the good old Mr.Big spirit to "Defying Gravity". He was already at the helm when it comes to the first three longplayers, providing also in 2017 the sound that’s needed for this kind of music.

“Defying Gravity” is Mr. Big's ninth studio album and it features eleven new songs, all in the typical Mr. Big fashion. The quartet set some standards with their first two longplayers and everything the band released afterwards could easily live up to these standards. Mr. Big fine-tuned their sound over time, leading to this fantastic release that was recorded in just six days. This means that the album doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles. “Defying Gravity” was recorded by the guys, playing together in the studio which gives the album this warm and organic vibe.

I don’t know if the huge success of “To Be With you” was a blessing or curse. A lot of people reduce the band to this multiseller single release, but Mr. Big is far more than this acoustic ballad. No doubt, also the new longplayer has some calmer moments. “Damn I’m in Love Again” and “Nothing Bad (Bout Feeling Good)” will be the tunes during a live show with the venue is lit by many lighters (or smartphones these days) and there’s nothing wrong with it. These (half-)ballads are great songs, done by excellent musicians with the latter being even a real highlight on the album.

However, the majority of tunes on this release rocks pretty hard. “1992” is one of these cool track combining Gilberts furious shredding guitar parts with a catchy melody. Or listen to the three stage rocket in the beginning of the album that helps to get things off the ground. “Open Your Eyes”, the title track and “Everybody Needs a Little Trouble” are the perfect start into an entertaining rock album.

“Defying Gravity” might not turn the rocking world upside down but it raises the bar for all the other bands in hardrock and melodic rock. This album shows what’s possible if great musicians work on songs without having the ego as a centerpiece. Musical competence meets excellent songwriting meets passion meets team-spirit, that’s what “Defying Gravity” is about. Excellent stuff.

 

(9/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Open Your Eyes
  2. Defying Gravity
  3. Everybody Needs a Little Trouble
  4. Damn I’m in Love Again
  5. Mean to Me
  6. Nothing Bad (Bout Feeling Good)
  7. Forever and Back
  8. She’s All Coming Back to me Now
  9. 1992
  10. Nothing at all
  11. Be Kind

 

Label: Frontiers Music

Genre: Hardrock

Release Date EU: July 21st, 2017

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CD review THE WINERY DOGS "Hot Streak"

Veröffentlicht am 4. Oktober 2015 von Markus W. in The Winery Dogs, Hardrock, News, CD Review, Blues, Classic Rock, Mr. Big, Dream Theater, Rock

(9/10) When Richie Kotzen (g), Billy Sheehan (b) and Mike Portnoy (d) make common cause with each other, the result must be good, regardless if we call the band supergroup or not. Those guys have proven over years that they belong to the spearhead of musicians in their field of expertise.

The Winery Dogs is the name of the band this trio formed in 2012. Los Angeles, Carloforina was the cradle of this fantastic three-piece that got quite some attention already from day one onwards.

It took till 2013 that The Winery Dogs released their debut album simply called "The Winery Dogs".  Their first longplayer was immediately followed by a live album the band recorded in Japan before they went back into the studio to record their second strike. "Hot Streak" is the name of this album which is another masterpiece of modern hardrock which combines modern sounds with classic rock in an excellent way.

Thirteen new rock anthems are captured on this CD that shows again the musician extraordinaire of the three guys. And even after so many years in so many different bands the trio is full of creativity that just wants to get out of them.

"Oblivion" marks the beginning of this exciting hardrock trip. This opener starts like a complex prog metal track before a fast beat leads to a higher paced hardrocker that combines complexity and catchiness.

"Captain Love" is different - like each of the tracks on "Hot Streak". It's build on a slow and mean AC/DC-like riff with an rough bluesy appeal. "Hot Strteak", title track, reminds in the verse to Whitesnake and I noticed for the first time how much Kotzen's voice can sound like David Coverdale. I love this track.

Billy Sheehan's bass kicks-off "How Long" before with "Empire" another melodic rocker takes over. 

The album also has its silent moments. "Fire" is a soulful and emotional ballad that is very well-crafted. I think that this melancholic tune has the potential to get a charts entry; if it would be released as a single. Those guys know how to move people.

"Ghost Town" is a sphereful tune that sounds like fog that slowly disappears and gives space to the sun. Portnoy's drums start "The Bridge" which is a riff based rock song a la Mr. Big followed by "War Machine". The title makes you think about a hard smasher but actually it's a more complext tune with an acoustic part embedded half way. The different instruments get a lot of space here. Kotzen's solo is one part, but also Sheehan's bass gets some moments and the same goes for Portnoy's drums. Actually this is the red thread through the entire album. World class musicians don't need ego trips. It's the combination of all this extraclass that enriches The Winery Dog's music by putting the song into the spotlight.

"Spiral" is a more creepy groover that shows a new side of The Winery Dogs. And it's great to discover this side of the band.

We are coming closer to the end. "Devil You Know" is a more straight-forward number that leads to the blues of "Think It Over" - a piece of music that gives you the shivers.

"Hot Streak" is one of the most divers hardrock records I have heard since quite a while. However, all this variety fits together and has common trademarks that makes The Winery Dogs to a special band which hopefully will enjoy us for quite some more years with their awesome creative output. "Hot streak' is a 'must' for each hardrock fan.

 

(9/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Oblivion
  2. Captain Love
  3. Hot Streak
  4. How Long
  5. Empire
  6. Fire
  7. Ghost Town
  8. The Bridge
  9. War Machine
  10. Spiral
  11. Devil You Know
  12. Think It Over
  13. The Lamb

 

Label: earMUSIC

Genre: Hardrock

Release Date EU: October 2nd, 2015

CD review THE WINERY DOGS "Hot Streak"
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Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014

Veröffentlicht am 19. Oktober 2014 von Markus W. in Mr. Big, Billy Sheehan, Paul Gilbert, Hardrock, Rock, Live Review, News, Eric Martin

It was the first time that I have been in the new venue in Utrecht. The legendary and renewed Vredenburg is hosting again concerts and other activities and it was Mr. Big who made me going there on this Saturday evening. 

Actually it was more late afternoon, since there was a curfew at 21:00 due to another event. OK, unusual to go to a concert already around dinner time, but who cares.

The role of the opening act was taken by a Dutch duo called Scarlet Stories. They played an acoustic show with just guitar and vocals. I haven't heard about them before and I think they did a good job. But of course everybody was waiting for Mr. Big. That was the reason why people came to Utrecht.

Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014

The four piece entered the stage a bit later than 19:00 and started with pure rock'n'roll. "Gotta love the ride" from the newest release was a perfect beginning, followed by the pumping "Daddy, brother, lover, little boy" and furious "American beauty" from "What if..". The tone of voice was set for the evening.

The great thing with Mr. Big is the fact that all muscians are belonging to the best of what you can get. And they don't have any ego problems. They entered the stage for making music and having fun together. Highly skilled musicians that play together as one unit - that's Mr. Big. And it's entertaining.

There is so much ease in the way they play live. Of course they have their songs, but there are still so much room for improvisation in their live music that makes it so exciting to see their shows.

There have been rumors that Mr. Big will also take Pat Torpey (d) with them on tour. In the beginning it was Burning Rain- and Ace Frehley drummer Matt Starr who took the place behind the drum kit. But there was something on stage that was covered. After a few songs it became clear that this was a small drum kit for Torpey. The drummer who got the diagnosis for Parkinson's disease joined the show and enjoyed it a lot. It even felt like he forgot the disease during the moments on stage. But it also shows that the band takes care about their band mates. I think this is worth a lot of respect.

Half way Mr. Big went from 'powerful electric' to 'soulful unplugged'. There have been the quite songs like "Wild world" and "Fragile". And of course also THE Mr. Big hit "To be with you" that has been performed. 

Towards the end it got heavy again with "Addicted to that rush" and esp. "Colorado bulldog". Real bouncers.

Due to the curfew the setlist was a bit shorter than the day before in the UK. However, it was still almost 2 hours of Mr. Big. And time was flying. 21:00 sharp, they had to finish and left happy fans with happy faces back in the Vredenburg. An excellent rock'n'roll evening in Utrecht combined with the hope that Mr. Big is coming back soon.

If they are still coming to your town, go there.

Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014

Tracklist:

  1. Gotta love the ride
  2. Daddy, brother, lover, little boy
  3. American beauty
  4. Undertow
  5. Alive and kickin'
  6. I forget the beauty
  7. Take cover
  8. Green-tinted sixties mind
  9. Out of the underground
  10. The monster in me
  11. Rock'n'roll over
  12. As far as I can see
  13. Wild world
  14. East/West
  15. Just take my heart
  16. Fragile
  17. Around the world
  18. Addicted to that rush
  19. To be with you
  20. Colorado bulldog

 

Location: Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Date: 18.10.2014

Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
Live review MR. BIG, Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht, 18.10.2014
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MR. BIG concert review soon on MHMB

Veröffentlicht am 18. Oktober 2014 von Markus W. in Mr. Big, Billy Sheehan, Paul Gilbert, Hardrock, Rock, News

MR. BIG concert review soon on MHMB
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CD review MR. BIG "...the stories we could tell"

Veröffentlicht am 20. September 2014 von Markus W. in Mr. Big, Winery Dogs, Hardrock, Rock, Blues, CD Review, News, Whitesnake

(8/10) If you don't know at least one of the following names you maybe entered the wrong side. The names are Sheehan, Gilbert, Martin and Torpey. But even if those names aren't familiar to you it's Mr. Big that might sounds a bit more familiar. The four gentlemen perform together under this header for many year (you can see how I want to avoid the word 'supergroup'). They are all experts on their instruments and combined forces and strength already in the end of the eighties, when their debut was released.

It was esp. their second album  "Lean into it" which contained songs like "Green-tinted sixties mind" and the alltime hit "To be with you". In my point of view not even the best song on the album, but the most successful one.

Mr.Big was also present during the 90's, but it got a bit more silent around the  band during the grunge-phase. After the Mr. Big disbanded in 2001 they found together many years later and released with "What if..." another sign of life. Now, three years later, the next milestone of the band will be released. It is entitled "..the stories we could tell" and I can report that the 13 stories they are telling are great ones.

The first story is already a success-story. The bluesy "Gotta love the ride", the guitars remind a bit to "Hit and run" from Whitesnake, is a great start into the album. It shows, as all the other songs too, how complexity and virtuality can be combined with catchiness. It needs experienced guys for such an operation and Mr. Big has those.

The moving ballad "The man who has everything" is a great song too. Not that it can reach "To be with you", but it is still a great one. And maybe it is a good thing that it differs from their mega hit. The vocals of Martin are shining in this song very much which shows what a great singer he is. The same goes for the second more silent tune on the album called "Just let your heart decide". 

But there are enough moment when the furious guitar of Gilbert gets into focus like on "I forget to breathe", "The monster in me" (in which the guitar alsmost 'speaks to you') and "It's always about that girl". Cool rock songs with a energetic punch and catchy hooks. The album shows that music for a broader audience doesn't need to be simple mainstream.

My peronal highlight on the album is the rocking "Satisfied" which works from the very first moment on. A cool track with an extensive guitar solo part that is great.  

"..the stories we could tell" proves that Mr. Big are still one of the top bands in this genre and I hope that they can tell a lot more stories in the coming years.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Gotta love the ride
  2. O forget to breathe
  3. Fragile
  4. Satsified
  5. The man who has ever
  6. The monster in me
  7. What if we were new
  8. Eastwest
  9. The light of day
  10. Just let your heart decide
  11. It's always about that girl
  12. Cinderella smile
  13. The stroies we could tell

 

Label: Frontiers Records

Genre: Hardrock

 

CD review MR. BIG "...the stories we could tell"
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New song from MR BIG

Veröffentlicht am 9. September 2014 von Markus W. in Mr. Big, Hardrock, Rock, Paul Gilbert, Eric Martin, Billy Sheehan, News, Video

Multi seller Mr Big has worked on a new album which got the name "The stories we could tell". Release date is end of September. The review is soon on the blog.

The first song is "Gotta love the ride". It's a smooth hardrock groover with some smaller Whitesnake references ("Hit and run"). However, Martin, Gilbert and Sheehan know how it works to write good rocker. Not to forget Pat Torpey who unfortunately has to suffer from Parkison.

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CD review THE WINERY DOGS "Unleashed in Japan - Live"

Veröffentlicht am 21. Mai 2014 von Markus W. in The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, CD Review, News, Hardrock, Rock, Dream Theater

(8/10) There are three 'supergroups' at the moment which go into a similar direction. We are talking about California Breed and KXM who release(d) their first studio records in May. Next to those two there are The Winery Dogs who published their debut a year ago.

The allstar band around Billy Sheehan, Richie Kotzen and Mike Portnoy also has a new disc out on the market. It is a live recording from a show in Japan. You could think about, why releasing a live disc with one album? What is the benefit?

I will not focus in this review too much on the already known songs (see the review link to the debut album further down) since the joy of the live album is that 5 out of the 10 songs haven't been released by The Winery Dogs earlier. There is with "Shine" a Mr. Big track on the live album. "Stand", an acoustic ballad, actually comes from Kotzen's time with Poison and "You can't save me" is taken from his solo record "Into the black. In addition to that there is the Elvin Bishop cover "Fooled around and fell in love". Eventhough those songs aren't totally new it is exciting to listen to the versions with a The Winery Dogs approach.  All those covers are very well done and fit to the setlist very easily. The Winery Dogs make those songs their won and interpret them in their own style. This goes esp. for the Elvin Bishop cover, in which the trio adds a hardrock component to the soul foundation of the original tune. Well done and at least as good as the original. With "Criminal" the live gig also included a non-album track. The track is a cool blues based rocker with a great chorus which reminded me to the earlier Whitesnake ("Fool for your lovin"). Sounds cool.

The production of the live album is very authentic. The sound reflects the live atmoshere pretty well and I don't think that there have been a lot of adjustments afterwards. Probabaly this was also not needed looking on the experience and capabilities of the three musicians.

As an extra benefit the live album comes with a CD 2, which is the bands debut album in its full length. Of course only a benefit if you don't call this fanastic debut not your own already.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

CD 1:

  1. Elevate
  2. Criminal
  3. Time machine
  4. I'm no angel
  5. Not hopeless
  6. Stand
  7. You can't save me
  8. Shine
  9. Fooled around and fell in love
  10. Desire

 

CD2:

  1. Elevate
  2. Desire
  3. We are one
  4. I'm no angel
  5. The other side
  6. You saved me
  7. Not hopeless
  8. One more time
  9. Damaged
  10. Six feet deeper
  11. Time machine
  12. The dying
  13. Regret

 

Label: Ear Music

Genre: Hardrock

CD review THE WINERY DOGS "Unleashed in Japan - Live"
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