Denmark’s Mike Tramp, alongside Dan Reed is one of those names that is synonymous with great memorable 80’s AOR.
Starting out in Mabel, followed by White Lion, where the band gained several chart successes, he then moved on the create Freak Of Nature and since then has had a very successful solo career with eleven albums and it’s the latter that this twenty track retrospective concentrates on which also includes four new songs.
We kick off with `Give It All You Got’, an empassioned, upbeat affair and oozes with melodies and is very much in the vein of one of his musical heroes, Tom Petty. Continuing with `If I Live Tomorrow’ which carries a crunchy riff that the Stones would be proud of, Tramp brings this track alive despite it being a stripped back no-frills affair.
`More To Life Than This’ takes us firmly into the White Lion style of singalong Rock which Tramp is so good at. `The Road’ is a semi acoustic rocker with a twist of REM to it.
Diverting towards a more country style is `Ain’t Done Yet’, the first new song here which sees Tramps voice sounding as smooth as butter and illustrates his lyrical prowess too. `Dead End Ride’, meanwhile is back “Heartbreakers” mode with more gritty vocals and infectious melodies. The hauntingly beautiful, piano based ballad `Maybe Tomorrow’ follows next.
For a song with the title of `Mr Death’, its content is surprisingly uplifting and bright despite the subject matter, even managing to include some great harmonica playing! The soft and gentle, `Mother’ is almost as far away from rock as we can get, yet Tramp pulls off this sweet pop track.
Stepping into the house of Blues comes the next new track, ` Take Me Away’. A smoothly delivered, bright and eloquent song. The atmospheric acoustic tracks, `Cobblestone Street’ and `Trust In Yourself’ show how Tramp can turn his hand to any genre but still put his own unique stamp on it.
The sweet melody of `New Day’ and simple lyrics is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face while the more complex, `Bow And Obey’ tells of a struggle for freedom and here Tramp’s ability to tell a story within his music is beyond compare.
Changing tack once more, the third new track, `Every Time’ is a slow paced, emotional ballad that tugs at the heartstrings. Raising the mood and pace `Coming Home’ sits midway between AOR and country ala The Eagles most memorable tracks.
The album closer and final new track, `I’ll Never Be Young Again’ is another ballad which doesn’t disappoint, no flashy licks, just heartfelt lyrics and a moving melody to accompany.
Mike Tramp has matured and grown considerably since his early days. His song writing ability has always been good but these days its more considered and meaningful. He has moved a long way from his tousled mane days in White Lion but its safe to say he is the pride of the pack now.
If you’re a fan of Tramp’s then you’ll love this, although much of the material will already be familiar to you. If you’ve not enjoyed this man’s talent then this will convert you!
Review by Paul Sabin for MPM