"Rising" (Shrapnel; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Based on my earlier review of Great White's "Greatest Hits," you may have got the impression that I wasn't much of a fan of the band ... and you probably would have been right. While I enjoyed the band's big radio hits (some much more than others), I never had the desire to purchase an entire Great White album or go to a Great White show (although I did -- see my review here). The band just never clicked for me. It happens.

That being said, I really enjoyed "Rising." It wasn't the cheesy hard rock album I expected but was instead was slower, seemingly more heartfelt music. The band has steered away from the party rock that made them popular back in the day and strayed into milder, blusier territory. It's the kind of record that makes you want to go back and explore the band's back catalog in case maybe you missed something the first time through. That, or the band has definitely turned a corner since those time. Whatever the reason, "Rising" is surprisingly entertaining through and through.

"Rising" really isn't a hard rock album at all. In fact, it's bluesy classic rock that you would expect to hear on the radio, from the syrupy ballads to the light rockers. It's much more in the vein of Edgar Winters than, say, UFO. The most important thing is how confident the band seems with this milder style. Whereas earlier albums seemed to be forcing the hard rock sound -- and, in my opinion, cheapening the music -- "Rising" is mellower and blusier. And, for my money, works much better. Even vocalist Jack Russell seems to have seasoned his vocal style, sounding more like a bluesman than a rock'n'roll singer.

I don't know how fans of the band's previous albums might react to "Rising." In my opinion, it's a little better than the band's earlier material. But if you've been a Great White all along, "Rising" may be too much of a departure for you. Of course, that decision is completely up to you.

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"Greatest Hits" (Capitol)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

There were a lot of great bands in the 80s. Great White wasn't necessarily one of them. Blessed with a number of mostly cheesy radio hits that had more to do with timing than with musical brilliance, the band managed to garner a considerable fanbase that continues to flood their live shows even today. Obviously, cheesy or not, they had something that fans wanted to hear.

This 14 track, 24-bit digitally remastered collection contains all of the band's big radio hits and a couple of unreleased live tracks. Their most popular songs are here - "Stick It," "Rock Me," "Once Bitten Twice Shy" and their undeniably cheesy ballad "Save Your Love." Most of the songs on this CD are the kind of tunes you don't really need to have in your collection. They're not bad, but they're the kind of thing you can hear on the radio once in awhile and that's enough.

There are exceptions. "Face the Day" (here appearing in a "blues mix") still rocks solidly and holds up better than any of the band's other tunes. "Mista Bone" still kicks with that funky beat that makes it irresistible. The live tunes are interesting as well, especially the MTV Unplugged cover version of Zeppelin's "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You." 

Look at it this way - it's cheaper to buy this CD to hear all the songs that you remember Great White playing than going back and buying the band's entire catalog. The digital mastering helps. Plus, you get nearly 75 minutes of Great White music which is just about all you need.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2009 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10 Jul 2022 15:03:28 -0400.