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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”

Whitesnake – Made In Japan [Review]

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Whitesnake – Made In Japan
2013, Frontiers Records

Disc 1:
1. 
Best Years
2. Give Me All Your Love Tonight
3. Love Ain’t No Stranger
4. Is This Love
5. Steal Your Heart Away
6. Forevermore
7. Six String Showdown
8. Love Will Set You Free
9. Drum Solo
10. Fool For Your Loving
11. Here I Go Again
12. Still of the Night

Disc 2:
1. Love Will Set You Free
2. Steal Your Heart Away
3. Fare Thee Well [Acoustic Version]
4. One of These Days [Acoustic Version]
5. Lay Down Your Love
6. Evil Ways
7. Good To Be Bad [Acoustic Version]
8. Tell Me How [Acoustic Version]

Band:
David Coverdale – Vocals
Doug Aldrich – Guitar
Reb Beach – Guitar
Michael Devin – Bass
Brian Tichy – Drums
Brian Ruedy – Keyboards

Produced by: Michael McIntyre, David Coverdale & Doug Aldrich

Made In Japan is Whitesnake’s fifth live album. Now, you may say to yourself, “Didn’t they just release a live album a few years ago?” They did. The album you’re thinking of is Live at Donington 1990 but that was an archive release. A “blast from the past”, if you will. Made In Japan is much more current having been recorded in October 2011 at the Loud Park Festival in Saitama City, Japan.

The entire recording was originally meant to be aired only on TV in Japan but Coverdale, Doug Aldrich and Frontiers Records liked what they heard & saw so much, that they decided the show deserved a worldwide CD/DVD/Blu-ray release. You can buy this show in various formats but I’ll be referring to the 2 CD portion only for this review and not the DVD or Blu-ray footage.

Luckily, Coverdale has never been content to live in the past. Sure, it took him a long time to revive Whitesnake, but now that he has, the band has delivered two of their best studio albums to date (Good to Be Bad and Forevermore) in the last few years. So it’s no surprise that Disc 1 (the actual Loud Park performance) pulls a combined four tracks from those two albums. The remaining tracks on Disc 1 are the typical ’80s hits but it’s great that Coverdale does’t tour strictly with a “greatest hits” set list.

The modern Whitesnake songs are so good and sound so much more powerful than anything of old. And I really have to give credit to Doug Aldrich for helping to restore the band to greatness. Actually, the entire band is amazing and really made the mighty ‘snake powerful and muscular again (make your own jokes, please).

Disc 2 is a very good collection of songs the band played during various sound checks while on tour in Japan.

You really can’t go wrong with Whitesnake (live or in the studio), especially when it comes to this era of the band.

http://www.whitesnake.com/
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Buy the album at Amazon.com

Whitesnake – Forevermore

Whitesnake – Forevermore [Classic Rock Fan Pack Exclusive Limited Edition] (2011, Classic Rock/Future Publishing)

1. “Steal Your Heart Away” … 5:18
2. “All Out Of Luck” … 5:28
3. “Love Will Set You Free” … 3:52
4. “Easier Said Than Done” … 5:12
5. “Tell Me How” … 4:41
6. “I Need You (Shine A Light)” … 3:49
7. “One Of These Days” … 4:53
8. “Love & Treat Me Right” … 4:14
9. “Dogs In The Street” … 3:48
10. “Fare Thee Well” … 5:18
11. “Whipping Boy Blues” … 5:01
12. “My Evil Ways” … 4:33
13. “Forevermore” …  7:24
BONUS TRACKS
14. “Slide It In (live)” … 5:06
15. “Cheap & Nasty (live)” … 4:35

Band:
David Coverdale – Vocals
Doug Aldrich – Guitar
Reb Beach – Guitar
Michael Devin – Bass
Brian Tichy – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Timothy Drury – Keyboards
Jasper Coverdale – Vocals

Producer: David Coverdale, Doug Aldrich and Michael McIntyre

Always a favorite of mine since the mid-90s, it wasn’t until the last two or three years or so that Whitesnake came to rise to the near top of my list of favorite bands. Of course, KISS is forever and always #1 in my book but David & Co. would be a strong contenders for my Top 3 and definitely make my Top 5. Being a HUGE fan of their last album, Good To Be Bad, I was more than ready for Forevermore to be released.

As often happens in this band, the line-up has changed a bit. Drummer Chris Frazier and bassist Uriah Duffy left the band in 2010 and were replaced Brian Tichy and Michael Devin respectively. Keyboardist Timothy Drury, who had been in the band since Coverdale brought back the Whitesnake name in 2002 also left in 2010 but was around to record the album. In the line notes, he is only credited as a “special guest” and has since been replaced by Brian Ruedy on stage. Though I would love to see Tommy Aldridge come back in on drums (he was a member from ’87-’91 and then ’02-’07), I’m basically happy as long as Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach are on guitars. I think the band has a much beefier guitar sound now with Aldrich and Beach yet they still are able to stay true to the band’s blues-rooted sounds and play the classic ‘snake songs wells.

The Coverdale/Aldrich partnership has proved very fruitful and is definitely one of the best partnerships David has ever had in this band. David has always kept great guitarists in Whitesnake but Aldrich’s time in the band has that something special to it and he has risen to become not only a songwriting partner with Coverdale but also co-producer of this album. I’m sure the day will come when Aldrich moves on to another project, I just hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon.

A bit of info about this particular version: UK’s Classic Rock magazine was offering a “Fan Pack”, also referred to as the “Snake Pack”, which included the album (featuring the alternate cover art you see above) with two bonus live tracks from the upcoming Live at Donington 1990 album, a poster of the band, a Whitesnake “Official Collector’s Pin Badge” and the coup de grace — a special Whitesnake edition of Classic Rock magazine. CR has done similar packages in the past for the release of Slash’s solo disc and Motorhead’s The World Is Yours. I should point out that the various retail editions of this album are available from Frontiers Records.

I haven’t read the magazine yet but I’m pretty anxious to. My favorite magazine putting the spotlight on one of my favorite bands, how could it go wrong? I also want to point out how cool the packaging of the album is. This version of the CD comes in a hardcover case that’s larger than your standard jewel case. Although most of the pages are full of “thanks”, there’s a cool shot of the band and the lyrics to “Forevermore” are included. All in all, it’s a classy package and it’s great to see Whitesnake get this type of treatment.

So what about the music?!? Well, if you’re a fan of Good To Be Bad, then you already like this album. David & Co. continue what they started there– bringing all eras of the band together into one powerful album. If anything, this album brings it back even more to the early Whitesnake days. Tons of the songs sound like pre-pop metal WS… but on steroids. “Steal Your Heart Away”, “I Need You (Shine A Light)”, “Love & Treat Me Right”, “Whipping Boy Blues” and “My Evil Ways” should put a smile on any fan that’s been listening since the early days.

“Love Will Set You Free”, “All Out Of Luck” and “Tell Me How” are perfect modern Whitesnake and would’ve been right at home on Good To Be Bad. “Dogs In The Street” sounds like a Slip of the Tongue-era rocker, it’s kinda generic but not bad. Probably my least favorite song on the album though. Also bringing to mind Slip of the Tongue is the ballad “Easier Said Than Done”. “One Of These Days” and “Fare Thee Well” are great acoustic driven ballads that sound like something off Restless Heart. “One Of These Days” especially has a great 1970s classic rock/country feel to it, reminding me of the Eagles. Then there’s the epic closer “Forevermore”. It has that Led Zeppelin vibe to it the band had during the late ’80s and probably wouldn’t be out of place on their 1987 album.

I really can’t recommend this album enough. I knew it was going to be very good but it has exceeded even my own expectations (which is probably why this review has been so long-winded). I LOVED Good To Be Bad but Forevermore is even better and Coverdale sounds as good as ever!

Highlights: “Steal Your Heart Away”, “Love Will Set You Free”, “Tell Me How”, “I Need You (Shine A Light)”, “One Of These Days”, “Love & Treat Me Right”, “Fare Thee Well, “Forevermore”

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Buy Forevermore (CD/DVD) (DIGIPACK) at Amazon.com

Whitesnake – Live: In the Shadow of the Blues

Whitesnake – Live: In the Shadow of the Blues (2008, Icarus Music – Argentina Import)
Original Release: 2006, SPV Records/Steamhammer Records

Disc One
1. “Bad Boys” … 6:22
2. “Slide It In” … 5:11
3. “Slow An’ Easy” … 6:54
4. “Love Ain’t No Stranger” … 4:31
5. “Judgement Day” … 5:34
6. “Is This Love” … 4:58
7. “Blues for Mylene ’06” … 3:31
8. “Snake Dance ’06” … 2:03
9. “Crying in the Rain” … 5:46
10. “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” … 8:44
11. “Fool for Your Loving” … 4:51
12. “Here I Go Again” … 5:53
13. “Still of the Night” … 8:38

Disc Two
1. “Burn – Stormbringer” … 8:38
2. “Give Me All Your Love” … 4:27
3. “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues” … 5:10
4. “The Deeper the Love” … 4:31
5. “Ready an’ Willing” … 5:41
6. “Don’t Break My Heart Again” … 6:08
7. “Take Me with You” … 7:50
8. “Ready to Rock” … 4:19
9. “If You Want Me” … 4:08
10. “All I Want Is You” … 4:12
11. “Dog” … 3:27

Band:
David Coverdale – Vocals
Doug Aldrich – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Reb Beach – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Uriah Duffy – Bass, Backing Vocals
Tommy Aldridge – Drums
Timothy Drury – Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Producer: David Coverdale, Dough Aldrich, Michael McIntyre

Having heard this album shortly after its release, I’ve wanted this album just as long but it seems like this was one of those albums that must’ve had a small pressing because it quickly shot up in price around the internet. Thankfully it was reissued (though I didn’t realize I was buying a reissue at the time) so the price was about $7 or $8 when I finally bought it online.

Though I’ve claimed to be a Whitesnake fan for years, this album along with Good to Be Bad really cemented my status as a fan and quickly catapulted Whitesnake near the top of my favorites list. Since Coverdale reformed the band in 2002, he’s kept amazingly talented musicians in the band and this particular line-up is probably one of the most impressive and powerful versions of the band ever as evidenced on this album. I can even vouch for them in concert because I was lucky enough to see them on the Good to Be Bad Tour (though the awesome Tommy Aldridge was no longer on drums). They have such a powerful, meaty, energetic sound. The Coverdale/Aldrich pairing has really produced some great things and I think this band has rejuvenated David Coverdale.

The only bad thing I can say about a performance here is sometimes Coverdale is straining, not often, but it happens. Which is odd because I don’t remember him sounding like this at all in concert, he sounded phenomenal then. Still, even when not 100% on his game, Coverdale is a better singer than most.

I’m not sure exactly when or where this album was recorded. They album gives credits to the 2005 and 2006 touring production team so I’m guessing these songs were culled from various performances though you can’t tell. If this was meant to give the illusion of being one show (or if it was truly was), the sequencing is weird. Disc One plays like an entire show from beginning to end while Disc Two’s live tracks seem kind of random and surely they wouldn’t end a show with “Take Me With You”! I guess they wanted to fit all the major Whitesnake songs onto the first disc.

Now, as if you can’t guess by now, the live portion of this album is fantastic but here’s the real reason I bought this album: for the four brand new studio songs that showed off this powerful new line-up. “Ready to Rock”, “If You Want Me” and “Dog” are welcome entries into the Whitesnake catalog. Much like the entire Good to Be Bad album, they are an updated take on the old Whitesnake song. Amazing songs. The only one that falls kinda short is “All I Want Is You” which is a ballad that tries to replicate “Is This Love”.

Great live album with some great new studio songs… Definitely an essential Whitesnake album!

Highlights: “Slide It In”, “Slow & Easy”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “Blues for Mylene ’06”, “Crying in the Rain”, “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”, “Still of the Night”, “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues”, “Ready to Rock”, “If You Want Me”, “Dog”

www.whitesnake.com
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www.myspace.com/whitesnake

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”

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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
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