I've been really looking forward to this album. I'm nothing short of a Mr. Big fanatic and when I heard some of my favourite singers like Joe, Glenn and Mickey Thomas would be joining Richie Kotzen, Pat Torpey and Billy Sheehan for a run through of classic Mr Big songs, I couldn't wait. So here's my thoughts on it....
Mr. Big - Vocals: Paul Rodgers. The albums opener, the song from which the band took their name, and Paul Rodgers is picked to sing it. I thought that a little bizarre as he sang it in the first place, but I must admit he puts a bit of a spin on it and sings it well. I've always thought Rodgers was over-rated but he sings this quite laid back before blasting it out near the end. An excellent opener!
Take Cover - Vocals: Doug Pinnick. There are only two of the thirteen tracks present I wasn't happy with the versions of, and this was one of them. I didn't like the style of Doug Pinnick's vocal, and I didn't like the guitars as much as Paul Gilbert's in the original. It's an okay cover, but I rated it as the second weakest track.
Colorado Bulldog - Vocals: Joe Lynn Turner. Heh hey! JLT steps up to the mike to rattle off another quality vocal on one of Mr Big's fast rockers. Joe does a tremendous job as always with just the right amount of rasps, screams and suitable phrasing. Musically there is a subtle change, but all in all this is a typical Joe tribute track....quality.
Wild World - Vocals: John Waite. Another vocalist I always thought was over-rated, but John Waite does a good job on the old Cat Stevens song. He sings it well and the backing arrangement is more lush compared to the Mr Big version with Eric. Musically almost identical in style with only the backing singing making a difference.
Price You Gotta Pay - Vocals: Glenn Hughes. Big Daddy puts his stamp of quality all over this one. When I initially read who would sing what, I wasn't sure how Glenn would approach this. I thought JLT would be the most comfortable because he is closer to Eric's voice than Glenn is, but it's no trouble for Big Papa G. He makes it his own and blows you away with the sheer power of the "Hey baby, you're deep into the hole!" bridge. Cracking!
Promise Her The Moon - Vocals: Ann Wilson. Retitled "Promise Him The Moon", Ann sings Eric's ballad superbly, which isn't much of a surprise. The obvious twist is you have a female singing lead on this track, and she does a great job. A faultless vocal.
Addicted To That Rush - Vocals: Billy Sheehan. I thought this would be the plump turkey of the CD, and I was bang on the money. As a vocalist, Billy Sheehan is a tremendous bass player. I was horrified when I thought of Billy singing this belting Mr Big foot tapper, and I think my fears were justified. The "whooah!"s are gone to be replaced inexplicably by a harmonica, and Billy sings it extermely low. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't think this worked at all.
Just Take My Heart - Vocals: Mickey Thomas. I was pleased to see Mickey's name pop up as I really like his voice and haven't heard anything from him in a while. This ballad from "Lean Into It" was made for him and Mickey delivers it beautifully and even throws in some falsetto to finish. I was really impressed with this as it's pretty much an Eric song, but Mickey does it justice.
Shine - Vocals: Brett Damrose. I'd never heard anything by Keanu Reeve's band Dogstar, so I had no idea how they'd sound. Actually, they do a surprisingly solid version of "Shine", and Brett Damrose handles it pretty well. After the second listen I had to say this was far superior to what I would have imagined.
Crawl Over Me - Vocals: Pat Torpey. I'm a big Pat fan (probably the only guy in the UK to have both his solo albums) and this was a pure Pat song, even when I heard the Mr Big version. Eric sang the original similar to how I imagined Pat would have, and the line up on this song is virtually Pat's studio band on his solo stuff. It's a like for like version with Pat replacing Eric. If you like Pat's voice, it's great.
To Be With You - Vocals: Richie Kotzen. I was really worried about this one. I like Richie a lot but this song just screams Eric Martin and I couldn't imagine anybody else doing it. I have to say, Richie knocked me out with this. He sings it tremendously, putting a slightly different approach on it. The arrangement is just different enough to still make it sound like the original, and it's a very good take on THE Mr Big song. Excellent.
Green Tinted Sixties Mind - Vocals: Donnie Vie. I'd never heard Donnie Vie sing before so I didn't know how he'd handle this. The truth is he does it very well, and there's a bit of filtering done on his voice to give it that spaced out vibe. Otherwise, much like the original. Very good.
Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy - Vocals: Joe Lynn Turner. JLT steps up again for personally my favourite Mr Big song. He talks a little on the DVD about being a Mr Big fan and said he used to warm up by singing this. He delivers a storming vocal with all the JLT trademarks. The twist on this song is it starts up more like "Highway Star" than it does "The Electric Drill Song", and there's even an excerpt from "Highway Star" just after the solo, played by a certain Yngwie Malmsteen!
Overall, a pretty damn good CD. I could easily dismiss the songs by claiming I'm a Mr Big purist, but the caliber is just that bit better than most tribute albums, with bigger names being attracted to appear on it. I hope this is a good sign for more in the series because I could name several bands who I'd like to see get the same treatment.
"How can you lose, when you're destined to be a winner?"
Because I was a Mr. Big fan (for their first three albums) I enjoyed this tribute album. Glenn sings in Price You Got Pay, and sounds better than anybody else in the album (not a surprise). I was a little disappointed by the choice of this song because I have many other Mr. Big songs which I like better.
A documentary 10 min DVD is attached to a special edition album. This contains interviews of some of the musicians appeared in this album. There are a few clips (a few seconds in total) of Glenn. No interview with Glenn. So, DONâ€™T buy this special edition just to see Glenn!
The Euro release due on Monday, January 19th, 2004 via Frontier Records, will include a bonus track which is Alive and Kickin' featuring GLENN on lead vocals
This is soooo typical - once you purchase the incredibly expensive Japanese Import (this time even with a Bonus DVD), the domestic (European) release gets the Bonus track. Uh baby, baby, it's a wild world...
In anticipation of the European release...Frontiers Records have made available for download, the 8 minute DVD intro video from the original Japanese release!
It features GLENN (briefly) and JLT in conversation....amongst many others!
Click the link below to grab it - you'll need Apple's QuickTime player to watch it.