Released: 2011, Frontiers Records
Unless you’re a forest-dwelling black metal orc, winter is a time to find a warm place to hide, and what better place than a packed club filled with people head banging to heavy metal? To get you comfortable, this month we’ll be covering six recently-issued live albums from the likes of: Gamma Ray, Helstar, Mr. Big, U.D.O., Vicious Rumors, and Y&T. Grab a beer (or your drink of choice), get warm, and enjoy the music!
Note: some of these were released as CD/DVDs; however the reviews cover the CDs only.
Mr. Big, unfortunately known mostly as “that ballad band” here in North America, have had a long, successful career overseas, particularly in Japan where the band enjoys almost god-like status. The band has had its ups and downs, breaking up for a while, and then reforming in 2009, even releasing a new album, WHAT IF. This album, released in 2011 on Frontiers Records, documents a special acoustic tour the band did in Japan to support the album.
If you are a fan of WHAT IF, then you will really enjoy this album, as seven of the ten cuts are taken from that release. This might be a limitation for some fans but in fairness, the band was promoting that release at the time. The band of course performs their golden classic, “To Be With You”, but dig a bit deeper to add “Take Cover” (from HEY MAN) and “Voodoo Kiss” (from LEAN INTO IT). The band performs each song flawlessly, as you would expect. Paul Gilbert is a consummate guitarist and his playing is one of the main attractions of the band. Billy Sheehan is of course no slouch either, and he easily keeps up with his guitarist. Given the stripped-down approach to these songs, drummer Pat Torpey doesn’t get to show off quite as much, but he’s certainly dependable. Eric Martin’s smooth vocals shine as always – he’s as good as ever. Because of their status as one-hit wonders, the band often doesn’t get the respect that their talent deserves, and this album further proves the caliber of musicians they are.
Whether or not this album is useful to you will depend largely on two things: how devoted a Mr. Big fan you are, and your tolerance for acoustic performances. I’m neither a Mr. Big nor an acoustic fan so the appeal to me is limited; however I definitely appreciate what the band pulled off here. This is the perfect album to listen to on those nights when you just want to stay in and relax.