Metal Monday 1-24-2022

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

On February 20, 2003, an eighties hard rock band, more than a decade past its commercial prime, soldiered into a small dive with only two of its original members to play for a crowd of about 400 people.  For reasons unknown, due to the resulting finger pointing, said band set off a pyrotechnic blast to kick off their performance.  100 people died.  My thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends off all victims, including those who survived, but are forever affected by the events.

That band was Great White.  Although the group on that tour and at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island was basically lead singer Jack Russell’s solo band (original guitarist Mark Kendall joined the band on the tour), the marquee promoted Great White.  Therefore, the legacy of Great White will forever that tragic evening.  While nowhere near as calamitous as a hundred people losing their lives, it is a little sad that this incredible bluesy rock and roll band will never be remembered for its lengthy and impressive musical catalog.

In its prime, Great White consisted of two incredibly talented musicians:  lead singer Jack Russell and lead guitarist mark Kendall.  Keyboardist/guitarist Michael Lardie, bassist Tony Montana, and drummer Audie Desbrow more than competently completed the line-up.  Unleashed during the era of the hair band, Great White brought a little something different to the table by combining the undeniable hooks and hard riffing of the day with a bluesy swagger.  In this aspect, Russell and Kendall worked brilliantly together.  The band released 80’s classic singles such as Once Bitten Twice Shy, Rock Me, Lady Red Light, Save Your Love among others.  However, the group put out innumerable deep cuts and proved their chops were more worthy than the fluff and cheese that was hitting the airwaves at the time, as is apparent with my number one choice in this ranking (see below).   

#13: 

Sail Away-1994

This one is a little too mellow for my liking, featuring a plethora of acoustic guitar, as well as the E Street Band’s Clarence Clemons on the saxophone.  While I cannot condemn the band for trying to expand their musical horizons, I just find this to be the least likely album I would put on to listen to Great White.

Best Song:  Momma Don’t Stop

Best Deep Cut:  Momma Don’t Stop

#12: 

Rising-2009

There’s a point in the middle of this album that I ask myself if I’m listening to a Foreigner record.  I have nothing against Foreigner or any band of that mold, however, this Great White release doesn’t contain enough of the hard driving blues that I come to enjoy from the band.  Couple that with the fact it is long-time singer Jack Russell’s swan song with the group, Rising comes off as disappointing.  That said, Substitute, All or Nothin,’ and Danger Zone are good songs.

Best Song:  Substitute

Best Deep Cut:  Substitute

#11: 

Full Circle-2017

The most recent Great White album is also the second and final release with lead singer Terry Ilous.  In my opinion, this record contains far less bite (see what I did there?) than the first Ilous offering, which is much further up in the countdown.  That said, I’m Alright, Movin’ On, and Never Let You Down are the highlights.

Best Song:  Never Let You Down

Best Deep Cut:  Never Let You Down

#10: 

Great White-1984

This first full-length release from the band showed the rawness and hunger of young musicians who had yet to find their classic sound.  This one is much heavier than one would anticipate from a Great White release.  That said, there is some good material here.  The diehards tend to defend this album and I cannot argue with them.

Best Song:  Stick It

Best Deep Cut:  Stick It

#9: 

Let It Rock-1996

By now, Great White had punched in its formula of leading off the record with a blazer, following up with something up-tempo, and throwing in a ballad at track three.  A healthy combination of the three would follow.  This is an underrated release, with the highlights including, My World, Lil Mama, Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady, and Miles Away.

Best Song:  Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady

Best Deep Cut:   Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady

#8: 

Back to the Rhythm-2007

See the explanation above.  Tracks to pay attention to include the title cut, Here Goes My Head Again, and Just Yesterday.  Meanwhile, close your eyes and listen to, Still Hungry and Standin’ on the Edge, and see if it doesn’t seem like it’s 1986 all over again.

Best Song:  Back to the Rhythm

Best Deep Cut:  Back to the Rhythm

#7: 

Can’t Get There From Here

Again, see the explanation above.  This is one of my go-to Great White albums, combining even stronger material in the mold of the formula as previously outlined.  Lead-off track and single, Rollin’ Stoned is your typical bluesy GW album starter, while Ain’t No Shame, Wooden Jesus, and the amazing Hey Mister are highlights.

Best Song:  Rollin’ Stoned

Best Deep Cut:  Hey Mister

#6: 

Elation-2012

There is quite a bit to digest with this album, mainly the fact that Great White had a new singer in Terry Ilous from XYZ fame in the early nineties.  Containing a much raspier voice than Jack Russell, Ilous offered something a little bit different to the band’s barroom hard rock blues.  Once you get past the different singer, the album works.  Featuring more of the harder stuff and less ballads, Elation is a hit with me.  (I’ve Got) Something for You, Feelin’ So Much Better, Love Train, and Heart of a Man gets the record off to a rollicking start before Hard to Say Goodbye slows things down, and in a good way.  Shotgun Willie’s and Love is Enough highlight the second half. 

Best Song:  (I’ve Got) Something for You

Best Deep Cut:   (I’ve Got) Something for You

#5: 

Shot in the Dark-1986

More polished than its predecessor, Shot in the Dark is another old classic that the diehards will defend to the death.  This is the album that the band begins to capitalize on what will become its winning formula.  The title cut, She Shakes Me, as well as covers, Face the Day (the Angels)and Gimme Some Lovin’ (Spencer Davis Group) are all worthy of a listen or two.

Best Song:  Shot in the Dark

Bet Deep Cut:  Shot in the Dark

#4: 

Twice Shy-1989

Now we are getting to the big time.  This is the record that contains the band’s biggest hit, a cover of Ian Hunter’s, Once Bitten Twice Shy, but there is so much more to unfold.  The Angel Song and Mista Bone were solid radio hits, while single, House of Broken Love is the album’s finest moment.  But wait!  There’s more!  Move It, Heart the Hunter, Hiway Nights, and Wasted Rock Ranger are all worthy deep cuts.

Best Song:  House of Broken Love

Best Deep Cut:  Hiway Nights

#3: 

Once Bitten-1987

This wonderful collection kicks off with the amazing Lady Red Light, setting the tone for the band’s first taste of mainstream success.  While singles, Rock Me and Save Your Love are great tracks and turned legions of fans onto the group, deep cuts such as Gonna Getcha, All Over Now, and Fast Road more than hold up on this release.

Best Song:  Rock Me

Best Deep Cut:  Lady Red Light (I know it’s played on classic rock radio, but it was not released as a single.  Plus, it kills!).

#2: 

Hooked-1991

There is not a Once Bitten Twice Shy or Rock Me in terms of an undeniable hit single but Hooked is an all-around better album than its predecessors, and that’s saying something!  Call It Rock and Roll, The Original Queen of Sheba, and Cold Hearted Lovin’ gets the record off to a fine start, and things never really let up.  Listen to, Lovin’ Kind, Heartbreaker, Congo Square, and Desert Moon, the latter containing the unfortunate stigma as being the song the band started with the night of The Station fire.  Finally, the group’s covers of Can’t Shake It (The Angels) and Afterglow (Small Faces) are to be dealt with, as well.

Best Song:  Call It Rock and Roll

Best Deep Cut:  Can’t Shake It

#1: 

Psycho City-1992

This is Great White at its absolute creative peak, although it is pushing past its commercial peak.  It doesn’t matter.  This album features the band at its finest, combining hard rock dripped with a strong side of blues, regardless of the dearth of a hit single or arena tour.  The entire collection is masterful.  That said, if asked to list the highlights, I would say the title cut, Step on You, Old Rose Motel, Maybe Someday, and Big Goodbye, which comprise of a brilliant first half of the record.  Meanwhile, the second half is nothing to sneeze at.  If you haven’t listed to this release, do so now!

Best Song:  Old Rose Motel

Best Deep Cut:  Maybe Someday

Metal Monday 12-13-2021

Concert Review Archive

Scorpions with Great White, Trixter

Knickerbocker Arena

Albany NY

April 22, 1991

The Scorpions have always been one of those bands that have flown under the radar for me.  While I have enjoyed them, I have rarely loved them.  This, even though they have authored some of the greatest songs in hard rock history.  Upon the coaxing of my then-girlfriend, who badly wanted to see opening band Trixter, I scored a couple of tickets for the Scorps’ Crazy World tour stop in Albany, NY.

Surprises come in many shapes and forms.  I’ve been surprised by wives and girlfriends that have informed me they didn’t want to be in a relationship with me anymore.  I’ve been startled by people quietly coming into the room.  I’ve been surprised when my trail camera didn’t pick up any new pictures despite being set up in an area conducive to deer activity.  And, I was pleasantly surprised by the solid and workmanlike performance turned in by the Scorpions at this show.  While I don’t always give them credit where it is due, this concert is one of the best I have ever been to.

The house lights went out and a smattering of strobe lights lit up the darkness, tastefully accompanied by the sound of thunder.  Once fully lit, the stage displayed long ramps on both sides of the drum riser, as the group tore into the lead single from the Crazy World album, Tease Me Please Me.  Klaus Meine’s high pitched vocals were in fine form as he led the group through new album cuts, Lust or Love, Hit Between the Eyes, Don’t Believe Her, and the not-yet huge hit, Wind of Change.  Not to be left out, some of the band’s earlier hits found their way into the first half of the show, including, Bad Boys Running Wild, The Zoo, and their cover of The Who hit, I Can’t Explain.

Visually, fans were treated to a blinding light and laser show that effectively reflected the mood of the song being played.  Meanwhile, Meine commanded the stage with his presence and vocal prowess.  While lead guitarist Matthias Jabs, bassist Francis Buchholz, and drummer Herman Rarebell personified the solid but unspectacular charisma the Scorpions hold in my mind, it was rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker who fans had difficulty taking their eyes off.  Schenker bounced around the stage like a giddy school child, playfully interacting with fans and never taking his foot off the gas pedal.

The second half of the show saw more hits and deep cuts, such as Rhythm of Love, Blackout, Coast to Coast, Can’t Live Without You, Dynamite, and the main set closer, Holiday.  Not close to being finished, the band returned for the classic four song encore of Big City Nights, No One Like You, Still Loving You, and Rock You Like a Hurricane.  From the guitar solo to the end of the finale, the lighting rig transformed into the shape of a giant scorpion, a very cool effect for 1991.

I was originally reluctant to buy a ticket for this show, only relenting as a young guy wanting to appease his girl.  I suppose I thought by doing so, and bringer her to see Trixter, I may be rewarded in the end, and if memory serves me correctly, I was indeed.  However, the biggest reward was being able to witness a longstanding and professional rock and roll band such as the Scorpions.

Scorpions Setlist:

Tease Me Please Me

Lust or Love

Bad Boys Running Wild

Make It Real

Hit Between the Eyes

The Zoo

Wind of Change

I Can’t Explain

Don’t Believe Her

Rhythm of Love

Blackout

Concerto in V

Coast to Coast

Can’t Live Without You

Dynamite

Holiday

Encore:

Big City Nights

No One Like You

Still Loving You

Rock You Like a Hurricane

Show opener Trixter was the newcomer to the hard rock scene in 1991 and the New Jersey quartet delivered a brief set solely from their self-titled debut, including the MTV hits, One in a Million and Give It To Me Good.  Meanwhile, blues rock veterans Great White, reaching the waning moments of their peak in popularity, and long before their career-defining involvement in the tragic Station night club fire in Rhode Island, delivered a solid set that combined tracks from their newly-released album Hooked, as well as hits from previous records, including, Mista Bone, Save Your Love, and Once Bitten Twice Shy.

Trixter Setlist:

Bad Girl

Heart of Steel

Play Rough

Ride the Whip

One in a Million

Line of Fire

Give it to Me Good

Great White Setlist:

Call It Rock ‘n’ Roll

All Over Now

Cold Hearted Lovin’

Mista Bone

Desert Moon

Save Your Love

Can’t Shake It

Once Bitten Twice Shy

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