Review by Ritchie Birnie for MPM
Mike Tramp revisits White Lion with reworkings of the best in the White Lion catalogue and he has knocked it out of the park.
When this was announced I was taken aback. Mike has managed to put White Lion behind him. Do not get me wrong he dabbles here and there and there will always be White Lion songs at his live shows but there was a lot of hurt when this band broke up and it took a lot of time to get past the beast that was White Lion. He done it musically with a multitude of incredible solo albums and three very angry, spiteful and amazing albums from Freak of Nature.
I had assigned myself to only getting fleeting glances of the band I loved back in the 80/90s and I was happy with that as every Mike Tramp album and live show is special in its own right and the man is funny and one of the most decent people in the business.
But…I am not going to say no to a bit more of White Lion, especially a full tour but that will have to wait as we need to dive into the album first and foremost.
Mike has openly stated he would do the album as he is now and who the hell am I to tell the man what to do or say. It is his band, his voice, his songs and his damned prerogative and for me each and every song is a beautifully modern rendition.
The album opens with the awesome riff and urgency that is “Lady of the Valley”. It is very fitting that this opens the album as it was my introduction to the band and I have followed the lead singer to this day and this version just reinforces how good this band was as they exploded onto the scene and boy is that solo nailed on.
Next is “Little fighter” and another love of mine, the White Lion political songs. The production on this is beautiful and the message is as strong as the day it was released.
Now to the huge ballads that White Lion were renowned for. Broken Heart will ring true to almost all of us and this song is a rocking masterpiece. The chugging melody, the lyrics and the emotion that Mike puts into every delivery. I am in love with this album already.
The love interest continues on “Love Don’t Come Easy” and during the 1980s and some very decidedly non talented bands the duo of Tramp/Vitto was a beacon of brilliance shinning brightly.
The blazing intro of “Hungry” bursts to live with Tramp’s modern day vocals from the opening track of “Pride” and a bit of a deep cut for me as I felt it was far too overlooked alongside of the big chart busting numbers.
“Cry For Freedom” was definitely an eye opener when it was released and the version here seems more powerful, the message clearer as if the decades since it has been released has weighed heavily on Mike as if his message was never heeded and he is heavily aware.
Another album opener in “Goin’ Home Tonight” from Pride and another deep cut and another song that was a bit left on the side of the road with the other huge tracks getting all the radio play so it is great to hear this one on here as it is a belter.
Does “Wait” even need an introduction? I loved the original, I love this version and this song has me screaming out at the top of my lungs at a live show. This was one of those broke the band to new heights moments and one listen again lets you know this band were no fluke. A slice of hair metal genius.
We go way back to the debut for “All the Fallen Men” and it was brilliant to include this track as it is another deep cut and I love to see that Mike chose songs that we would never have expected and to be honest a lot of people might actually not have heard this one. It is a serious rocker.
Another surprise in “Living on the Edge” and the rockier numbers are definitely coming out in force. I love the left of field choices but I do wonder if there are a few fans who were only there for the monster hits will be disappointed.
Aaaaah, the old chant along of “Tell Me” and it takes me back to the UK Pride tour in Glasgow. Up close and personal with White Lion and seeing them in their element on a stage where the studio gloss was turned down, the guitars were turned up and the outfits were extremely dodgy.
The alum finished with a sublime piano version of “When the Children Cry”. This is stunning and turns the song on its head and the lyrics pop out even more than the original and the message cuts through the decades and finishes the album in style.
Songs of White Lion is no throw away Frontiers release. This is an honest portrayal in the here and now and it has not hung its hat on the chart toppers. White Lion was way more than the MTV videos, the live shows still stay with me to this day and I am totally thankful for this release.
Songs Of White Lion” tracklisting:
- Lady Of The Valley
- Little Fighter
- Broken Heart
- Love Don’t Come Easy
- Cry For Freedom
- Going Home Tonight
- All The Fallen Men
- Living On The Edge
- Tell Me
- When The Children Cry
Mike Tramp – Vocals
Marcus Nand – Guitars
Claus Langeskov – Bass
Alan Tschicaja – Drums
Sebastian Groset – Keyboard
Christoffer Stjerne – Harmonies
Produced by: Soren Andersen & Mike Tramp