WINGER

"Better Days Comin'" (Frontiers; 2014)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This is Winger's sixth studio disc. They started in 1988. Most bands that have been around that long have plenty more albums under their belt ... but not Winger. You can't rush excellence plus a whole lot of other stuff happened on the way to the studio. The last three albums have had a three year gap in between so that's a good sign that more Winger music will be "comin'." Personally, I love the music this band creates so the wait is worth it each time.

This offering has all the original members so the sound it tight and solid. Kip Winger's signature vocals and crisp songwriting is what set them apart twenty-five plus years ago and it still does today. Each track has a great riff, an excellent solo and a great rhythm section via Rod Morgenstein on drums and percussion and Kip Winger on bass. As a band, Winger may have aged in the face but their music is still fresh and relevant for today's seekers of hard rock with understandable lyrics. There are ten tracks on this disc but you can snag an extra track with the bonus album. Winger always tosses in a ballad or slow song to show their softer side. "Ever Wonder" is their slow dance offering on "Better Days Comin'."

Winger: Kip Winger on vocals/bass, Reb Beach on guitar, John Roth on guitar and Rod Morgenstein on drums.

For more information, check out http://www.wingertheband.com/.

"Karma" (Frontiers; 2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I've always been a fan of Winger. Kip Winger has a great voice, he's an incredible composer and he surrounded himself with stellar musicians -- Reb Beach, one of the best guitar players of his genre and Rod Morgenstein on drums. He's got Jon Roth of Black Oak Arkansas fame axe slinging on "Karma" as well. Winger, this time around, is a lot heavier but they've still got that harmonic sound on vocals and guitar. You can think what you want but I challenge you to cue up some of Winger's old tunes and prove to me they didn't rock far better than half the trash that was pushed on you via MTV, (i.e., Poison and their ilk).

Each track on "Karma" is heavy hitting and the solos are mouth-watering. Reb Beach, who also played with Dokken during a stint (and Whitesnake), has some crunchy riffs and he keeps the guitar forefront just like before. Kip Winger's voice hasn't aged at all, he's still got that range that soars when he holds those ending notes.

It's good to know that Winger are still making awesome music now. And, as with every metal band that survived the grunge era, they must have a ballad on their disc. The tasty little gem on "Karma" is the track "After All This Time," and it's got a bluesy feel to it. I think Reb Beach channeled Gary Moore on the solo. The standout track on "Karma" is "Witness." The solo would rank up there with "For The Love Of God" by Steve Vai.

If you haven't listened to Winger in a long time then I recommend grabbing this disc and fill in the gap between their self-titled album and "Karma."

For more information, check out http://www.wingertheband.com/.

"IV" (Shrapnel; 2006)

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn, Jr.

 

Poor ol’ Kip Winger has likely suffered the tortures of the damned ever since Beavis and Butthead single-handedly decreed him uncool. Then again, his immediate success following a nice run with Alice Cooper made Winger hard rock poster boys with “Headed For a Heartbreak,” “Madalaine” and the notorious “Seventeen.” "In the Heart of the Young" had a little bit of staying power, but by that album, Mike Judge had thrust the dagger into the band’s heart and Kurt Cobain stomped it to finality.

Winger took another shot in 1993 with "Pull," but the damage had been done and, like contemporaries such as Firehouse, Warrant and Slaughter, they fell into the abyss of hard rock nostalgia. Now, in 2006, in the midst of a metal revival, Winger takes yet another shot with "IV," and -- ridicule them if you like -- but this is actually a pretty good rock record. 

Basking in the aura of patriotism, "IV" is a rock'n'roll love letter to the U.S. soldiers fighting abroad; in fact, the swaying anthem “Blue Suede Shoes” is dedicated especially to the troops. Check your politics at the door and I’ll do the same. Regardless of my spiteful feelings about the war and the administration, let’s give some hope to these brave folks that their efforts aren’t completely in vain. If that’s Winger’s agenda—and assuming it’s in earnest—then cheers.

Whether or not the mean age of the troops fighting in Iraq is going to endear them to Winger is questionable, but for those of us listening here at home, let’s just say that Winger, with his main pal Reb Beach, have for themselves a pretty solid album with other songs like “Four Leaf Clover,” “Right Up Ahead,” “Short Flight to Mexico” and “Livin’ Just to Die” that have hard-driving edges with pop pepperings that make them distinctly Winger without being sappy. While “Disappear” and “M16” are a little overbearing, Reb’s solos keep them interesting, and there’s the obligatory ballad “On a Day Like Today” that’s a bit long but still quite good.

Yes, they’re all coming back, folks, so just hunker down and keep an open mind. Some of it is obvious cash cow, and Winger’s IV could be perceived thusly if not for a pretty ambitious undertaking on the band’s part.

For more information, check out http://www.wingertheband.com/.

"The Very Best Of" (Atlantic/Rhino; 2001)

Reviewed by Keith Guillotine

 

As we all know, Winger is no newcomer to the rock'n'roll world.  These guys have been around since the mid-80's, enjoying varying degrees of success and, of course, failure.

This CD is a compilation of their best work from their previous studio albums, "Winger," "In The Heart Of The Young," and "Pull." It also contains an extra track called "On The Inside" which added guitarist John Roth.  "On The Inside" is great.  It has a dark sound to it, almost like Whitesnake's "In The Still Of The Night." Not what I expected from Winger. 

The first three tracks start out slow but then explode into a heavy metal sound that would get any mosh pit jumping.  However, the next three slow right down and make the album seem fairly melodic. 

Track 10, "Easy Come Easy Go" (which is from the band's "In The Heart Of The Young" CD) definitely kicks ass. I have never heard that album in its entirety, but this track is making me curious enough to possibly check it out. It hit #41 on the pop charts back in 1991, so I guess I'm not the only one who thinks it's good.  "Easy Come Easy Go" has a Dokken-like sound (and Dokken is another one of my favorite bands).

Other songs on the CD include:  "Seventeen" (#26 in 1989), "Madalaine," and "Headed For A Heartbreak" (#19 in 1989) and more. The entire CD is loaded with great guitar riffs and has a total running time of almost one hour and fourteen minutes. So you get plenty of Winger for your money.

Winger: Kip Winger - Vocals, Bass, Keyboards, Guitar; Rod Morgenstein - Drums, Percussion, Vocals; Reb Beach - Guitar, Vocals; Paul Taylor - Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals; John Roth - Guitar and Vocals on "On The Inside."

For more information, check out http://www.wingertheband.com/.

"Pull" (Atlantic;1993)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

 

Forget what you have ever heard about Winger. Repress your memory of fat little Stuart wearing that shirt with the Winger logo on it while being berated by Beavis and Butthead. If you don't have this CD, you owe it to yourself to get it and never let something like this happen again. You can probably find it in the bargain bin for about four bucks, but that's not because it's bad, it's because grunge came in and, well ... you know the rest.

This is one the best hard rocking CDs that never saw the light of day. Released in 1993, "Pull" still holds its ground. The vocals are sharp and strong, the guitar is blistering and, in my opinion, may never be matched again. Reb strangles the guitar into submission. The drums are as tight as a military bed.

The song “Spell I'm Under” was written for Kip’s wife Beatrice whom Kip would unfortunately lose in an auto accident a few years later. This is a great song for the arrangement and the emotion.

This disc is one of my favorites because there will never be another like it. I would even let someone borrow it, and I never do that.

The best songs on the album are “Blind Revolution Mad,” “Down Incognito,” “Spell I’m Under,” and “Who’s The One.”

Winger: Kip Winger - vocals; Reb Beach - guitar; Rod Morgenstein - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.wingertheband.com/.

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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Revised: 08 Oct 2017 14:52:20 -0400.