Album Reviews

Mr. Big – What If…

Released By : Frontiers Records

Release Date: January 21st, 2011

Genre : Melodic Rock

Links : www.mrbigsite.com


Lineup :

Eric Martin – Vocals

Paul Gilbert – Guitar

Billy Sheehan – Bass

Pat Torpey – Drums


Tracklist:

1. Undertow

2. American Beauty

3. Stranger in My Life

4. Nobody Takes The Blame

5. Still Ain’t Enough For Me

6. Once Upon A Time

7. As far As I Can See

8. All The Way Up

9. I Won’t Get in My Way

10. Around The World

11. I Get The Feeling

12. Unforgiven (Japanese Bonus Track)


What an aptly titled album this one is, and so relevant the picture of a pig that can fly as the cover artwork. I mean, who would have thought that we would be starting 2011 off with a brand new studio album from melodic rock favorites MR BIG, and even if there was a small amount of people that thought it possible, I’m sure none of them would have expected an album of this magnitude.

Obviously with a band that is comprised of some of the best musicians in the world people would have expected this new album to be at least decent, but for me the album passed all of my expectations and then some and is an album that I will carry around with me all the way to the end of the year and beyond. Obviously over time people change and we couldn’t have expected a pure classic era MR BIG album in this day and age, but instead what we have received is a great album that touches on past glories while moving the band’s sound somewhat closer to the modern age.

But that doesn’t mean that WHAT IF… is a modern rock record, far from it actually, it’s still a classic sounding melodic rock album in its essence, but the power behind the songs and some excellent studio work ensure that it is more than suitable for today’s rock market.

Throughout the entire album Paul Gilbert’s guitar playing is as amazing as ever and a lot of the songs could have almost been instrumental virtuoso songs and still been a joy to listen to, Billy Sheehan proves once again why he is so popular with some of the freshest hard rock bass lines we’ve heard in many a year. Pat Torpey may be the unsung hero of the band as he is not talked about as widely as his band mates, but if you focus on the drums while listening to the album you will have a greater respect for one of the best rock drummers of our time. It’s also a treat to hear Eric Martin singing decent music again after releasing four very horrible cover albums under the guise of MR VOCALIST where he has become one of Japan’s most beloved pop singers.

The album begins with the first single in UNDERTOW, and man what an opener!! It’s the perfect introduction to the newer, slightly more modern sounding MR BIG and lays down a great foundation for the album to build on. AMERICAN BEAUTY is pure early nineties melodic rock and a fine, fine song. STRANGER IN MY LIFE is a great mid-paced ballad that serves to remind us all how powerful Eric Martin’s voice can be. NOBODY TAKES THE BLAME is the first and only dud on the album and suffers from trying to be too many things at the one time. STILL AIN’T ENOUGH FOR ME gets the album swingin’ again and is another great melodic rocker which features some awesome interplay between Sheehan and Gilbert. ONCE UPON A TIME is a good modern feeling hard rock tune that shows that the band can still sound relevant in today’s music landscape. AS FAR AS I CAN SEE is a song for old-school MR BIG fans and is a great reminder of their classic sound. ALL THE WAY UP is the big ballad of the album and does a fine job in doing so. I WON’T GET IN MY WAY is another modern sounding tune that has a slightly darker edge to it but still works very well. AROUND THE WORLD is a feel-good cruisy hard rocker that brings back memories of the early nineties in great fashion. I GET THE FEELING is another classic MR BIG sounding tune that will please all followers of the group. The Japan only bonus track UNFORGIVEN should have been released on every version as it’s a great album closer with some of Paul Gilbert’s best riffs in a long time.

I may well have heaped more praise on this album than a lot of other people will, but after countless listens I am comfortable with my rating and as a long-time MR BIG fan I have to say that I couldn’t be any happier with this album. Well, maybe except for exchanging NOBODY TAKES THE BLAME for something else, but one dud song among ten brilliant ones still makes a sensational modern day return to form from a band that nobody expected to ever hear from again.

Written By ZeeZee

Rating : 10/10


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