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Mike Tramp – Museum [Review]

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Mike Tramp – Museum
2014, Target Records
Buy the album

1. Trust In Yourself
2. New World Coming
3. Down South
4. Better
5. Freedom
6. Commitment
7. And You Were Gone
8. Slave
9. Mother
10. Time For Me To Go

Producer: Soren Andersen & Mike Tramp

Mike Tramp returns with another heartfelt and emotional collection of acoustic rock/pop tracks. Last year’s Cobblestone Street was good but I enjoyed it less than I did 2011’s Stand Your Ground. Luckily, Museum is an improvement over last year’s effort and the music is slightly more upbeat (although the album is still very mellow and slow-tempo songs).

One thing I’ve always loved about Tramp are his lyrics. You can tell they are very personal to him. Whether he’s talking about his mother, his life growing up or making a statement about society, the lyrics are very intimate and you know he means them.

Tramp’s solo material is not something I pull out (or queue up) often, but when I do, I always end up enjoying it. I think you have to be in a more laid-back mood to listen to it. There’s no hard rock to be found here. If you’re expecting something to sound like White Lion, you really aren’t going to get it. The closest he gets to rocking out are the songs “Down South” and “Slave” which are very bluesy and sound like something you might hear from The Black Keys. The music is all acoustic-driven and while I prefer good ol’ riffing on an electric guitar, whenever I sit down and listen to Tramp’s solo material, it’s always an enjoyable experience.

Museum is not in-your-face and bombastic. Mike Tramp albums never are, but this is a good disc to spin if you’re just looking to kick back and relax or possibly get a little introspective.

Highlights: “Trust In Yourself”, “New World Coming”, “Better”, “Time For Me To Go”

Mike Tramp – Cobblestone Street [Review]

Mike Tramp – Cobblestone Street
2013, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Music

1. Cobblestone Street
2. Caught In The Storm
3. New Day
4. Ain’t The Life I Asked For
5. Revolution
6. We’ll Be Alright
7. Angel Or Devil
8. Find It In Your Heart
9. What Are You Gonna Do?
10. Once
11. When The Children Cry [2013 Acoustic Version]

Musicians:
Mike Tramp – Vocals, Guitar
Soren Anderson – Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Bass, Drums, Harmonica

Mike Tramp will always be best known for White Lion but he’s had quite a solid music career outside of that band, at least in terms of quality releases. The handful of his solo albums that I’ve heard have been extremely good and I enjoyed Stand Your Ground (released under the name of Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz) a lot as well. I was looking forward to checking out Cobblestone Street once I heard it was coming out.

Citing the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen for inspiration, Cobblestone Street is a collection of acoustic tracks and balladry. Tramp has been quoted as saying it’s the album he’s wanted to make for the last 20 years. Tramp’s voice has always worked well with the more low-key moments in White Lion’s catalog, his voice is perfectly suited to convey the pain and emotion of songs like “When The Children Cry” (which has be re-recorded as an acoustic number for this very album). Laid back, yet deep and personal Cobblestone Street has become one of my favorite releases of 2013.

There’s not a dud to be found on this release. The album is mellow and sentimental but well worth seeking out if you aren’t in a mood to bang your head. If Tramp decides to leave his rocker ways behind him, I would be completely okay with that. That’s just how much I’ve enjoyed Cobblestone Street.

Highlights: “Cobblestone Street”, “New Day”, “Ain’t the Life I Asked For”, “Revolution”,  “We’ll Be Alright”, “What Are You Gonna Do”, “Once”

http://miketramp.dk/
http://www.facebook.com/MikeTrampOfficial

Buy the album at Amazon.com

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground

Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground (2011, Deadline Music)

1. “Don’t Let Them Put It On You” … 4:12
2. “Alright By Me” … 3:38
3. “Distance” … 4:05
4. “Gotta Get Away” … 4:14
5. “Straight From The Look In My Eyes” … 4:50
6. “Got Me Crazy” … 4:31
7. “Wish You Well” … 4:23
8. “The World Is Changing” … 4:51
9. “Prettiest Girl” … 4:51
10. “Say What You Will” … 3:55
11. “The Soldier Never Started A War” … 6:59

Band:
Mike Tramp – Vocals, Guitar
Soren Andersen – Guitar, Keyboards
Claus Langeskov – Bass
Morten Hellborn – Drums, Percussion

Producer: Soren Andersen & Mike Tramp

I’ve been a casual White Lion fan for as long as I can remember but in the last two years or so I’ve become an even bigger fan. I think they are one of the most underrated bands to spring from the hair metal era. Because of this, naturally I was interested in Tramp’s solo material. He’s kept pretty steady in music even after the original White Lion broke up. I am not sure if White Lion even exists anymore (the latest album, Return of the Pride, was released in 2008) but this is the second album since 2009 from Tramp’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz group. Though a few of Tramp’s solo/side project albums are out-of-print, I have heard a bit of what he’s done outside White Lion and liked it all well enough to go as far a pre-ordering Stand Your Ground from Amazon.com

True to form, I have not been disappointed. This album definitely still falls under the “rock” category but it seems like Mike Tramp has taken on a more low-key and mellow vibe compared to what White Lion played in the ’80s. In other words, there’s no “Lights and Thunder”, “Hungry”, “All You Need Is Rock ‘N’ Roll” or “If My Mind Is Evil”. Mike seems to have put all those heavier in-your-face kind of rock songs to bed and is content to play good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll like “Alright By Me” and “Gotta Get Away” (probably the hardest rocking song of the bunch).

There is one thing that Mike has not changed though: the serious subject matter and emotional subjects brought up in the lyrics. “The Soldier Never Started A War” is pretty obvious by the song title alone, “Wish You Well” is a song about a father seeing his son grow up, “Distance” is about being separated from a loved one (perhaps even having lost a loved one), then there’s the love lyrics of “Prettiest Girl” and “Straight From The Look In My Eyes”.

Anyone who is a White Lion fan, or more specifically a Mike Tramp fan, should enjoy this album. Mike Tramp never really seems to get much press but he’s been active since the ’80s cranking out one good album after another and it’s time people start recognizing that!

Highlights: “Don’t Let Them Put It On You”, “Alright By Me”, “Gotta Get Away”, “Distance”, “Wish You Well”, “The World Is Changing”, “Prettiest Girl”

http://miketramp.dk/home
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-Tramp-Official/130186350354989
http://www.myspace.com/miketramp

Buy ‘Stand Your Ground’ at Amazon.com!

Monster Madness

Various Artists – Monster Madness (2000, Razor & Tie Music)

1. “Dr. Feelgood” – Motley Crue – 4:51
2. “Unskinny Bop” – Poison – 3:48
3. “I Remember You” – Skid Row – 5:15
4. “Kiss Me Deadly” – Lita Ford – 4:01
5. “I Wanna Rock” – Twisted Sister – 3:04
6. “Silent Lucidity” – Queensryche – 5:49
7. “Epic” – Faith No More – 4:54
8. “Up All Night” – Slaughter – 3:47
10. “Don’t Treat Me Bad” – FireHouse – 3:58
11. “Hole Hearted” – Extreme – 3:40
12. “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” – Quiet Riot – 5:20
13. “In My Dreams” – Dokken – 4:21
14. “Wait” – White Lion – 4:03
15. “Easy Come, Easy Go” – Winger – 4:03
16. “I Saw Red” – Warrant – 3:50
17. “I’ll See You in My Dreams” – Giant – 4:45

Following Razor & Tie’s success with Monsters of Rock and Monster Ballads, here comes Monster Madness! Monster Madness is essentially Monsters of Rock 3 (Monsters of Rock 2 was released a few months before this album) and is certainly superior to MOR 2 (which was already scraping the bottom of the barrel) and is just as good as the original MOR album in my opinion.

I mean, just look at the songs here. “Dr. Feelgood”, “Unskinny Bop”, “I Remember You”, “I Wanna Rock”, “Wait”, “Bang Your Head”, “Hole Hearted”, “Don’t Treat Me Bad”… It’s a hair metal dream! Even the odd inclusion of Queensryche and Faith No More is welcomed because those are killer songs.

The album takes me back to my youth. No, not the ’80s but the year 2000 when I bought this album and my girlfriend at the time loved it because it had Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly” on it. I still remember her getting all excited when she heard it for the first time in years.

Just a great “feelgood” album filled with major acts and songs.

WHITE LION – Big Game

White Lion – Big Game (1989, Atlantic Records)

1. “Goin’ Home Tonight” … 4:57
2. “Dirty Woman” … 3:27
3. “Little Fighter” … 4:23
4. “Broken Home” … 4:59
5. “Baby Be Mine” … 4:10
6. “Living on the Edge” … 5:02
7. “Let’s Get Crazy” … 4:52
8. “Don’t Say It’s Over” … 4:04
9. “If My Mind is Evil” … 4:56
10. “Radar Love” … 5:59
11. “Cry for Freedom” … 6:09

Band:
Mike Trap – Vocals
Vito Bratta – Guitar
James Lomenzo – Bass
Greg D’Angelo – Drums

Producer: Michael Wagener

I picked this one up used for $5.99 at FYE shortly after getting Pride. I wasn’t looking for any White Lion CDs but came across and figured I might as well get it while I was in the mood for the band. Also, it was apparently owned by “Dan” as his name is written on the album insert. Well, thanks for getting rid of your copy, Dan!

Pride is the band’s most successful album but I’m leaning towards Big Game being the better release. From the Van Halen idolizing on “Let’s Get Crazy” (where in addition to Vito imitating Eddie we get an opening squeal from Mike worthy of Diamond Dave) to the pure heavy metal anger (THAT’S RIGHT I SAID IT) of “If My Mind Is Evil” to songs that sound a bit more like Pride in “Little Fighter” and “Cry For Freedom” there’s not a whole lot filler here, if at all. My only gripe as I have stated elsewhere would really be “Radar Love”. It’s not horrible but I’m just not a fan of the song, Golden Earring or White Lion version.

While “Broken Home”, “Little Fighter” and “Cry For Freedom” deal with serious issues the band still finds time to get in on typical hair metal bravado with “Dirty Woman”. Fun melodic rockers, hair metal, heavy metal, a handful of ballads… How can you go wrong with this album?

I have to commend the band and returning producing Michael Wagener for no following the formula set on Pride. Sure, it’s not a huge departure but there’s enough curve balls here to keep things interesting and it’s a brave choice to start the album of with “Goin’ Home Tonight” which is a somewhat sappy melodic rocker but Mike Tramp’s vocals really put the song over. It’s a good song but an odd choice to open the album, I think. His emotional vocal style also shines on “Broken Home”, a song that deals with divorce.

Although there aren’t as many straight rockers as Pride has, this is probably the best starting point for those curious about the band.

Highlights: “Goin’ Home Tonight”, “Little Fighter”, “Broken Home”, “Let’s Get Crazy”, “If My Mind Is Evil”, “Cry For Freedom”

www.returnofthepride.com
www.myspace.com/returnofthepride

Buy It!
Amazon.com
CD Universe

WHITE LION – Pride

White Lion – Pride (1987, Atlantic Records)

1. “Hungry” – 3:55
2. “Lonely Nights” – 4:11
3. “Don’t Give Up” – 3:15
4. “Sweet Little Loving” – 4:02
5. “Lady Of The Valley” – 6:35
6. “Wait” – 4:00
7. “All You Need is Rock ‘N’ Roll” – 5:14
8. “Tell Me” – 4:28
9. “All Join Our Hands” – 4:11
10. “When the Children Cry” – 4:18

Band:
Mike Trap – Vocals
Vito Bratta – Guitar
James Lomenzo – Bass
Greg D’Angelo – Drums

Produced: Michael Wagener

I’ve owned White Lion’s greatest hits collection The Best of White Lion for over 10 years now and I was a big fan of it. I played it constantly. So why didn’t I ever bother to dig deeper? I’m not sure but once I saw this album at Barnes & Noble for only $5.99, I figured why the heck not?

Pride is regarded as the band’s best release and it’s no wonder with rockers like “Hungry”, “Lonely Nights”, “Wait”, “Lady of the Valley” (the band’s attempt at doing something epic and majestic), “Tell Me” and the band’s biggest hit “When the Children Cry”, which went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts and helped propel this album to double platinum.

Visually, White Lion fits in with the rest of the pop metal bands of the day. The clothes, the pretty boy lead singer in Mike Tramp (who kind of reminds me of pro wrestler “Flyin'” Brian Pillman), guitar hero in Vito Bratta (particularly showing some fire here), etc. Where they differ though is through their lyrics which are a bit more heartfelt at times and have tackled serious social issues throughout their career. A song like “Don’t Give Up” is a perfect example of the positivity coming from this band. Most bands at this time were only positive that they wanted have sex and to party.

This is really a gem from this time period and as much as some bands are remembered, it seems like White Lion is one band that gets overlooked by hair metal enthusiasts these days. The only bad thing about this release is that I’m already way too familiar with six of these ten songs — they all were on the greatest hits release! I was really impressed by “Lonely Nights” though. I think it may actually be my favorite song on the album but “Sweet Little Loving” is pure filler.

Highlights: “Hungry”, “Lonely Nights”, “Lady of the Valley”, “Wait”, “Tell Me”, “When the Children Cry”

www.returnofthepride.com
www.myspace.com/returnofthepride

Buy It!
Amazon.com
CD Universe

WHITE LION – The Best of White Lion

White Lion – The Best of White Lion (1992, Atlantic Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Wait” … 4:04
2. “Radar Love” … 5:58
3. “Broken Heart” … 4:10
4. “Hungry” … 3:56
5. “Little Fighter” … 4:24
6. “Lights And Thunder” … 8:09
7. “All You Need is Rock ‘N’ Roll” [Live] … 5:44
8. “When the Children Cry” … 4:24
9. “Love Don’t Come Easy” … 4:11
10. “Cry for Freedom” … 6:11
11. “Lady of the Valley” [Live] … 7:41
12. “Tell Me” … 4:30
13. “Farewell to You” … 4:21

Band:
Mike Tramp – Vocals
Vito Bratta – Guitars
James Lomenzo – Bass
Greg D’Angelo – Drums

Produced by: Michael Wagener (Tracks 1, 2, 4-8, 10-12), Richie Vito (Tracks 3, 9, 13)

My one and only White Lion album, and it was an early addition to my CD collection. I was inspired to pick it up because of “When the Children Cry”, which a friend of mine had turned me onto. Obviously, being a ‘best of’, you can’t really go wrong, especially since this was my first introduction to the band.

I remember this album very well as I would usually come home from school and fall asleep while listening to it every afternoon (as I did with Guns N’ Roses and Poison).

“Radar Love” is the worst song of the bunch, I don’t like this soft cover and I don’t like Golden Earring’s original either!

This was the final release from White Lion until 1999, when another hits compilation was released (on Cleopatra Records and this time featuring re-recordings of White Lion songs by Mike Tramp and an all-new band) . Mike Tramp continues to tour and record under the White Lion name, releasing Returning of the Pride in 2008. It was the first original studio album since 1991’s Mane Attraction.

Highlights: Seeing as how this is a ‘best of’, I think most of the songs are more than worthy… “Wait”, “Broken”, “Hungry”, “Little Fighter”, “Lights and Thunder”, “When the Children Cry”, “Love Don’t Come Easy”, “Cry for Freedom”, “Tell Me”, “Farewell to You”

www.trampswhitelion.com
www.myspace.com/returnofthepride

VH1: The Big 80’s Power Ballads

VH1: The Big 80’s Power Ballads (1999, Rhino Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Fly to the Angels” – Slaughter … (5:08)
2. “Something to Believe In”  – Poison … (5:30)
3. “Amanda”  – Boston … (4:17)
4. “I Want to Know What Love Is” – Foreigner 5:01
5. “Alone Again”  – Dokken … (4:22)
6. “House of Pain”  – Faster Pussycat … (5:47)
7. “The Search Is Over” – Survivor … (4:13)
8. “Is This Love” – Whitesnake … (4:43)
9. “We Belong” – Pat Benatar … (3:39)
10. “Don’t Close Your Eyes”  – Kix … (4:19)
11. “What Does It Take”  – Honeymoon Suite … (4:16)
12. “Missing You” – John Waite … (4:29)
13. “Miles Away” – Winger … (4:12)
14. “When the Children Cry” – White Lion … (4:07)
15. “Goodbye” – Night Ranger … (4:21)
16. “Fly High Michelle” – Enuff Z’nuff … (4:17)

The late 1990s and early 2000s were a time of 80s nostalgia. Clothes, movies, music. One of the biggest flagwavers of 80s retro was VH1, who scored with the popular Behind The Music show, Pop Up Videos, and tons of 1980s-centric specials.

Not surprisingly, they also released their own compilations of 80’s tunes in a series called The Big 80’s. The Monster series of hair metal compilations from Razor & Tie Records proved popular and one of their most popular entries was Monster Ballads, so it only made sense for VH1 to release their own CD of hair ballads and tie it all in with the Big 80’s series.

There are TONS of other power ballad comps out there on the market, but this one and Monster Ballads are the absolute best and the bonus is that the people at Rhino & VH1 must’ve been paying attention because there’s only three songs that appear on both compilations (“Something to Believe In”, “Is This Love” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes”).

Essentially, this *is* a hair ballad CD, though a few artists like Boston, Honeymoon Suite, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Survivor and John Waite slip in, but the songs fit right in with the mood. Even if those artist aren’t hair metal acts, they certainly did produce hair metal ballads.
Power ballads are what got me into the hair scene in the first place (every hair metal act should have 2 or 3 great ones in their catalog), so this is right up there as one of my favorite albums. And yes, being the sap that I am, I would crank this during troubled relationship times when I was younger.
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