Back in the eighties I felt that I was in my prime, mid-twenties with big hair, big dreams and I loved my metal but have to say I did have a real fondness for the glam come hard rock side. For me it was a time where I’d be grooving along to Warrant`s `Cherry Pie`, Poison`s `Every Rose` and `Unskinny Bop`, Winger`s `Seventeen`, Faster Pussycat`s `Bathroom Wall`, LA Guns`s `The Ballad Of Jayne`, Vain`s `No Respect`, Dan Reed Network`s `Rainbow Child` and `Baby Now I` and early Bon Jovi with `In And Out Of Love` But I have to say there was a band that really resonated with me called White Lion. Maybe it was because they were a Danish – American band so almost one of our own who made it big in the USA. They had a gifted singer songwriter in a guy called Mike Tramp and with all the bands previously mentioned I got to discover mainly thanks to a new music channel called MTV.
White Lion, for me released three seminal albums with their debut Fight To Survive, Pride and Big Game and a further belter with `Mane Attraction`. The band kind of faded into the background probably due to the onslaught of grunge, who knows. Nevertheless, Mike Tramp has decided to re-imagine a dozen tracks from across these four albums with `Songs Of White Lion` released this month.
The album opens with `Lady Of The Valley` from `Pride` and it`s a number that was made for a stadium with its pounding drums and screeching guitar riffs but it also has it`s much more measured moments where you can imagine lit phones and cigarette lighters being held aloft. There`s another few cuts from `Pride` with `Wait` a thumping power ballad which to me is intensely introspective and had me reflecting on my very few romantic encounters. We also have `Tell Me` a much more uplifting fist in the air belter. `Hungry` relays a kind of statement of fact or a challenge with a lot of power and aggression within but without the arrogance but knowing that what you`re offering is worthwhile.
The `Big Game` album is represented by `Little Fighter` a wonderful headbanger with some really intricate guitar chord riffs. A number where you can let all the shit of your fairly hum drum life pass you by as you sing along to this anthemic offering. `Cry For Freedom` is a power ballad with rumbling guitars and a constant drum beat with vocals floated atop like honey on pancakes. It`s a political song about apartheid in South Africa and was one of many songs from the band that addressed social or political issues. We have a bit of a rock out with `Going Home Tonight` with a cracking short guitar solo mid-way through and a similar but more reflective submission in `Living On The Edge`.
The band`s debut album `Fight to Survive` offers up the stunning `Broken Heart` and is there a better love ballad to sum up how we have felt at times after the inevitable romantic breakup. Almost forty years on and this number still pulls at the heartstrings. We also have `All The Fallen Men` one of the tracks that broke the band in Europe before America woke up to them.
We have just the one number from `Mane Attraction` with `Love Don’t Come Easy` but it`s a cracker of a mid-paced rock ballad and has all the hooks and a singalong chorus with floating guitar riffs and a steady foot tapping drum beat.
Its back to the `Pride` album to close us out with `When The Children Cry` a gentle power ballad which opens with just keys and vocals, a fairly stripped back composition before an exquisite, restrained guitar solo joins in then fades and allows the singer to display his magnificent vocal range.
`Songs Of White Lion` is no better an introduction to and a reminder of what a brilliant and underappreciated band White Lion were. Lead singer and songwriter Mike Tramp has surrounded himself with some gifted musicians with Marcus Nand (guitars), Claus Langeskov (bass), Alan Tschicaja (drums), Sebastian Groset (Keyboards) and Christoffer Stjerne (harmonies) to bring these songs to life. It`s a breath-taking collection and arrives just in time for Summer.
Need I say more.