Category Archives: Winger

Winger – Better Days Comin’ [Review]

winger_-_better_day's_comin'Winger – Better Days Comin’
2014, Frontiers Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine”
2. “Queen Babylon”
3. “Rat Race”
4. “Better Days Comin'”
5. “Tin Soldier”
6. “Ever Wonder”
7. “So Long China”
8. “Storm in Me”
9. “Be Who You Are Now”
10. “Out of This World”

Band:
Kip Winger – Lead Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Reb Beach – Guitar, Backing Vocals
John Roth – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rod Morgenstein – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Cenk Eroglu – Keyboards
Marco Giovino – Percussion
Paula Winger – Vocals

Producer: Kip Winger, Jason Green & Dan Hubp

Better Days Comin’ sounds right at home next to the band’s previous two releases: IV and Karma. I personally always felt IV was a bit too boring, progressive and serious, but Better Days Comin’ seems to capture the “mature” vibe of that album a bit better either musically or lyrically with tracks like “Storm in Me”, “Tin Soldier”, “Be Who You Are Now” and “Rat Race” (which is probably the album’s best rocker). Similar to Karma though, the band is interjects some good old-fashioned fun with sex-charged tracks like “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine” and “Queen Babylon”.

“So Long China” is probably my favorite track and it’s one that has many Winger fans calling for a Kip Winger AOR album. “Out of This World” is another exceptional track and “Ever Wonder” is a classic deep-track Winger ballad. “Better Days Comin'” is pretty interesting. It starts out kinda trippy and Kip reminds me of Chris Cornell, then it breaks down into a funky rocker with the chorus. “Tin Soldier” reminds me a bit of something that Dream Theater might do (with about 8 minutes shaved off).

One particular thing I’ve noticed about this album are the lyrics. I will have to go back and check out the lyrics on their earlier releases again, but some of the words on Better Days Comin’ have really struck a chord with me. “Ever Wonder”, “So Long China”, “Out of this World” especially hit home with me.

This is one of those times where I like realy the album, but I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it so if you’re a Winger fan, go out and buy it or do whatever you have to do to listen to it. You won’t be disappointed.

Highlights: “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine”, “Queen Babylon”, “Rat Race”, “Tin Soldier”, “Ever Wonder”, “So Long China”, “Be Who You Are Now”, “Out of This World”

WINGER – In The Heart Of The Young

Winger – In The Heart Of The Young (1990, Atlantic Records)

1. “Can’t Get Enuff” … 4:19
2. “Loosen Up” … 3:29
3. “Miles Away” … 4:12
4. “Easy Come Easy Go” … 4:04
5. “Rainbow in the Rose” … 5:33
6. “In the Day We’ll Never See” … 4:51
7. “Under One Condition” … 4:27
8. “Little Dirty Blonde” … 3:32
9. “Baptized by Fire” … 4:11
10. “You Are the Saint, I Am the Sinner” … 3:35
11. “In the Heart of the Young” … 4:38

Band:
Kip Winger – Lead Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Reb Beach – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Paul Taylor – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Rod Morgenstein – Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Paul Winger – Backing Vocals
Nate Winger – Backing Vocals
Chris Botti – Trumpet
Micheal Davis – Trombone

Producer: Beau Hill

For YEARS I’ve wanted this album and for two very big reasons: “Can’t Get Enuff” and “Easy Come Easy Go”. With my satisfaction with the recent Winger and Blackwood Creek albums I’ve gotten my hands on, I finally got around to picking up a used copy on Amazon.com for only a few dollars.

I knew going into this album that it was the least favored of all of Winger’s releases but I didn’t care because I wanted to own the album that had “Can’t Get Enuff” and “Easy Come Easy Go”! “Can’t Get Enuff” is probably my favorite Winger track and both of those songs are shining examples of pop-metal done right. What’s funny is that neither song was originally meant to be on the album. They were written and recorded at the last moment because it was decided (and rightfully so) that this album didn’t feature enough rockers. Actually, it’s not so much that there weren’t already rockers on this album, it’s that there weren’t enough quality rockers. These two last minute additions really do wonders for the album, in my opinion.

The first half of the album is extremely good. “Loosen Up” features the typical hair metal lyrics about sex but is a good rocker. “Miles Away” is a great ballad that was the band’s biggest hit, solely making this Winger’s best selling album. “Rainbow in the Rose” is a neat mid-tempo number that sees the band flexing their progressive muscles. While doing press for Karma, I recall Kip saying this song was meant to be their “Stairway to Heaven”. Not even close, buddy, but I still like it. “In the Day We’ll Never See” is another song with a progressive influence. It didn’t immediately stick out but I’ve grown to like it a lot.

The second half of the album is basically filler. “Under One Condition” is an awful ballad and is pure Top 40/Adult Contemporary drivel. “Little Dirty Blonde” gets back to typical hair metal fare but falls flat with me for some reason I can’t quite pinpoint. “Baptized By Fire” is an okay rocker but suffers from too much production and polish, same goes for “You Are the Saint, I Am the Sinner”. “In the Heart of the Young” tries to be an anthem for the youth of the world but going at such a slick mid-tempo pace, it doesn’t work. Just doesn’t have enough energy.

In the end, I have to agree with criticisms that this album suffers from overproduction. It’s not as if the first half of the album is raw but that the songs are strong and the production doesn’t affect them. It’s when you get to the second half of the album that Beau Hill’s work becomes way too obvious and hinders what is already weak material. Oh well, 6 out of 11 ain’t bad!

BTW – I LOVE the cover of this album. It looks like the poster for some ’80s scifi/fantasy movie.

Highlights: “Can’t Get Enuff”, “Loosen Up”, “Miles Away”, “Easy Come Easy Go”, “Rainbow in the Rose”, “In the Day We’ll Never See”

www.wingertheband.com
www.myspace.com/wingertheband

WINGER – Pull

Winger – Pull (2005, Wounded Bird Records)
Original Release: 1993, Atlantic Records

1. “Blind Revolution Mad” … 5:26
2. “Down Incognito” … 3:49
3. “Spell I’m Under” … 3:56
4. “In My Veins” … 3:14
5. “Junkyard Dog (Tears On Stone)” … 6:55
6. “The Lucky One” … 5:21
7. “In For the Kill” … 4:13
8. “No Man’s Land” … 3:17
9. “Like a Ritual” … 5:03
10. “Who’s the One” … 5:54

Band:
Kip Winger – Lead Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Reb Beach – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Rod Morgenstein – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
John Roth – Guitar, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Frank Latorre – Harmonica
Alex Acuna – Percussion

Producer: Mike Shipley & Kip Winger

I’ve never been a huge Winger fan but I’ve always wondered about this album. It’s often cited as the band’s best. When I decided to give the band a chance to prove themselves to me again with Karma (I didn’t care much for IV), I decided to finally give this one a chance as well. The end result is an album that has much in common with Karma — a few dark mature tunes and few party-hearty hair metal tunes… Everybody wins!

It took me a few listens, but this is a really good album. I don’t think it is so obvious as the best album as others do, but I enjoy it a lot. It’s a bit more darker and mature than their debut and In the Heart of the Young, but it still retains a few pop-metal sensibilities and some incredibly catchy stuff like dirty guitar work on “Down Incognito”, “Like A Ritual” (a true sign Kip hadn’t left hair metal for dead!) and “In My Veins”. “Spell I’m Under” is power ballad worthy of any ’80s hair metal release with the production values and I really like the almost sinister and epic sound it has.

Of course, being released in 1993 during one of rock’s most boring phases, it was the final nail in the coffin for Winger (well, for a number of years anyway). It’s a shame because this is a fantastic release and Kip did a wonderful job of evolving the sound of the band without turning his back on the genre where he made his name.

Highlights: “Blind Revolution Mad”, “Down Incognito”, “Spell I’m Under”, “In My Veins”, “Junkyard Dog (Tears On Stone)”, “Like a Ritual”

www.wingertheband.com
www.myspace.com/wingertheband

WINGER – Karma

Winger – Karma [Limited Edition] (2009, Frontiers Records – German Import)

1. “Deal With The Devil” … 3:00
2. “Stone Cold Killer” … 2:45
3. “Big World Away” … 3:50
4. “Come A Little Closer” … 2:50
5. “Pull Me Under” … 3:20
6. “Supernova” … 6:17
7. “Always Within Me” … 4:15
8. “Feeding Frenzy” … 3:00
9. “After All This Time” … 6:24
10. “Witness” … 6:59
BONUS TRACK
11. “First Ending” … 2:07

Band:
Kip Winger – Lead Vocals, Bass, Keyboard
Reb Beach – Guitar, Backing Vocals
John Roth – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rod Morgenstein – Drums, Piano

Producer: Kip Winger

This was another 2009 release that snuck up on me, I wasn’t even aware Winger had even been working on a new album until they announced the release date for Karma! I’ve never been a huge Winger fan, but I’ve always thought they were decent. 2006’s IV was fairly bland and boring though so I had no desire to hear any more albums from Winger until reviews started coming in and I’ve yet to read a negative review for this album, with one critic even going as far to say it is a career best! Positive reviews alone weren’t going to entice me though, but when I read there was a bit more of an ’80s sound to the album (Reb Beach says they were going for a “Motley Crue sound”, they didn’t get it, but I still appreciate the effort) it piqued my interest.

It took me a couple of spins to get into this album, but it is probably one of the better albums of the year and definitely a lot better than IV which was too progressive and too forced sounding when it came to having an updated sound. What we have on Karma is a blend of an old school fun pop metal approach (“Deal With The Devil”, “Stone Cold Killer”, “Always Within Me”, “Witness”) and a more modern serious style (“Come A Little Closer”, “Supernova”, “After All This Time”) that was seen on Pull (which the band references by using the logo from that album for this album) and IV.

“Supernova” is definitely my favorite song on the album, it’s got a cool dark slow groove and I just keep playing it over and over.

So, I gotta say — Winger has redeemed themselves in my eyes and all the praise they’re getting for this album is well deserved. Surprisingly, one of the year’s best releases.

The limited digipak “enhanced” edition (which as far as I know is only available as an import) features a documentary on the album and also contains the bonus track “First Ending”, which is a piano instrumental. Decent instrumental for what it is.

Highlights: “Deal With The Devil”, “Stone Cold Killer”, “Come A Little Closer”, “Pull Me Under”, “Supernova”, “After All This Time”, “Witness”

www.wingertheband.com
www.myspace.com/wingertheband

WINGER – IV

Winger – IV (2006, Shrapnel Records)

1. “Right Up Ahead” … 5:07
2. “Blue Suede Shoes” … 3:46
3. “Four Leaf Clover” … 4:18
4. “M16” … 3:57
5. “Your Great Escape” … 3:55
6. “Disappear” … 3:49
7. “On A Day Like Today” … 6:24
8. “Livin’ Just To Die” … 3:40
9. “Short Flight To Mexico” … 4:18
10. “Generica” … 6:33
11. “Can’t Take It Back” … 5:07

Band:
Kip Winger – Lead Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Reb Beach – Guitar, Backing Vocals
John Roth – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Cenk Eroglu – Keyboards, Guitar
Rod Morgenstein – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Denny McDonald – Backing Vocals
Paula Winger – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Kip Winger

I have Winger’s debut album, and I like it, but I never cared enough to follow up with In the Heart of the Young or Pull. I like Kip’s voice, but the band had too much of an progressive rock/metal influence that kept me at bay.

Nonetheless, I took the chance on this album because I really liked “Generica” when it was posted online. The band doesn’t really change my mind here and in fact, I find this album to be a bit on the bland side as the progressive influence is even stronger here and the music is quite serious (no pop metal gems like “Seventeen” or “Can’t Get Enuff”).

It’s not all bad, there are a few songs I like, but for an album I didn’t expect much from in the first place, I still felt letdown. I never pull this one out to listen to.

Popular comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver drew the cover and the story goes that he hid something devious (possibly filthy) in the art, but I sure can’t see anything.

Highlights: “Four Leaf Clover”, “Your Great Escape”, “Disappear”, “Generica”, “Can’t Take It Back”

www.wingertheband.com
www.myspace.com/wingertheband

WINGER – Winger

Winger – Winger (1988, Atlantic Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Madalaine” … 3:41
2. “Hungry” … 3:58
3. “Seventeen” … 4:04
4. “Without the Night” … 5:02
5. “Purple Haze” … 3:37
6. “State of Emergency” … 3:35
7. “Time to Surrender” … 4:09
8. “Poison Angel” … 3:27
9. “Hangin On” … 3:34
10. “Headed for a Heartbreak” … 5:10
11. “Higher and Higher” [CD Bonus Track] … 3:18

Band:
Kip Winger – Vocals, Bass
Reb Beach – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rod Morgenstein – Drums, Backing Vocals
Paul Taylor – Keyboard, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Dweezil Zappa – Guitar
Beau Hill – Backing Vocals
Ira McLaughlin – Backing Vocals
Sandra Park – Strings
Rebecca Young – Strings
Hae Young Ham – Strings
Maria Kitsopoulos – Strings

Produced by: Beau Hill

Kip Winger got his big break writing “Bang Bang (Balls of Fire)” for KIX’s Midnite Dynamite album and as the bassist for Alice Cooper during the Constrictor and Raise Your First and Yell albums, but then decided to form his own band bring along the very accomplished Reb Beach.

This debut is certainly the work of a hair band (“Seventeen” proves that), but Winger has always been a bit more progressive and melodic as well. It’s a great debut and I’ve always thought Kip had one of the better voices in the genre. That said, I do have ONE gripe about the album… “Purple Haze”. I’m not a Hendrix fan at all, so I don’t even like the original, but their cover of it is horrible!

“Higher and Higher” was an exclusive release for the CD pressing for the album. I’ve never understood why bands/labels did that, I guess they were just trying to turn people onto CDs and get’em away from cassettes. Oh well. It’s a pretty good song.

Lowlight: All is good but “Purple Haze”

www.wingertheband.com
www.myspace.com/wingertheband

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