Released: 2012, Frontiers Records
Well, here we are in 2012 and a new Great White album is upon us, despite all of the lawsuits, tragedy, acrimony, and on-going verbal warfare with former singer Jack Russell. Still, Mark Kendall and boys seemingly haven’t missed a beat, recruiting a new powerful vocalist (former XYZ howler Terry Ilous) and firing the first musical salvo of the feud.
This is ELATION, and the title alone should give you a hint at where the band is at these days relative to the exit of their former vocalist. So, let’s get the comparisons out of the way. Is Russell missed? Of course, if only a little bit. For better or worse, the guy was the voice and face of the band for nearly thirty years, so it’s only natural that it feels odd without him. That said, Ilous is a great singer and acquits himself incredibly well throughout the album – to the point that after about two songs, Russell is an afterthought. More hardcore fans may feel differently, but I was never a huge fan Russell’s vocals to begin with, so it was pretty easy for me to put all the baggage aside and just groove on the music.
Speaking of the music, I’m happy to say that ELATION is pretty much exactly what fans of the band will want. Great White’s bluesy rock is fully intact and in top form. Tracks like the low-slung “Heart of a Man” dig in with deep grooves and hooks. My fave is easily the nostalgic party rocker, “Shotgun Willie’s” which is just so catchy that I find myself singing the chorus to myself at least once a day. Unfortunately, my problem with every other Great White album is also present on this album – too many slow bluesy cuts that just don’t rock. Some are in the guise of a ballad (“Hard to Say Goodbye”) and some are just kinda dull heavy blues (“Love Train”). Still, after this long it was expected and very easy to skip to the next rocker (“Just For Tonight” – yeah!).
As a fan, at the end of the day, I couldn’t give a shit about the chaos surrounding any band – I just want some great music. Well, there is plenty of that and more on ELATION, so my advice is this: forget the bullshit, and just dive in and enjoy.