Mr. BIG – Mr. Big [Japanese Remaster SHM-CD +3] [Limited Release]
Many asked to complete the MR. BIG four first albums Japanese campaign from some years ago, Remastered on SHM-CD and with bonus tracks. Let’s go with their tremendous debut, the self-titled “Mr. Big“.
It was all the rage at the time. It was what made Winger into a hit-producing machine. It was simple: take a couple of total shredmaster ultra wizards on guitar and bass, slap an obscure drummer behind them, and put a proficient yet largely unknown guy up front on mic and leather pants duty.
But instead of launching through a Yngwie-like solo-fest that shows us all that you can hit every note on the fretboard four times a measure, take a big step back and write some laid-back numbers with a little feeling, and some good catchy melody.
Put in a couple of good solos, have at least two or three ballads for the couples, but make it cool enough so that the Steve Vai types who are into total minor mode domination on the six-(or seven) string will still pick up a copy.
Not only did this work well for Winger, but it was pretty much the formula of the Hagar-era Van Halen, too.
Mr. Big followed this formula after ex-Talas bassist Billy Sheehan finished his duties with David Lee Roth. Sheehan then called the Eddie Van Halen of the bass, hooked up with Paul Gilbert, who started touring with bands when he was only 15, then went to GIT in California. His band Racer X put out a couple of albums on Shrapnel records with a very high “whoa” factor, and he appeared in about every third page of Guitar Player magazine for most of the mid-eighties.
Their four-piece was rounded out by Pat Torpey on drums and a singer which achieved some success as solo artist, but mostly in Japan: vocalist Eric Martin.
Produced with a pristine sound, the eleven-track self-titled debut from Mr. Big delivers a terrific mix of proficiency and playability that demonstrates that you don’t need to blast through with super-fast drum beats and constant soloing to make songs work.
That said, there are some faster numbers here. The opening song “Addicted to That Rush” starts with Sheehan’s bass burbling at high speed like a nest of bumblebees before Gilbert jumps in and they duel lines a bit until the drums crash in and the song starts. The two work well in their ability to play together; there are parts where they are so synchronized, it sounds like one huge chord reaching from low registers to high, instead of two people playing their own lines.
Overall, each of the songs has its own groove, and they alternate between taking things easy (“Big Love”) and slightly rockier bits (“Rock & Roll”, “Merciless”). There’s one zippier song that’s my favorite on that end, “How Can You Do What You Do”, which almost seems like it was written as the “video” song, and I could see Eric Martin on a stage with no audience, wearing his leather pants and a bandana or two, singing into a large industrial fan.
Then there’s sweet Martin trademark ballad “Anything for You”, and the a Sheehan-penned piece called “Had Enough”, also a slow tune but not exactly a ballad. It starts with just bass, and then adds in some very casual guitar before building up on the drums and going into the song full-steam. It’s a breakup song, very touching little song.
This excellent Japanese remastering and reissue on SHM-CD includes the original bonus track “30 Days in the Hole” (a Steve Marriott cover) plus “Merciless” and “How Can You Do What You Do”, two songs that never made it into the final tracklist but deserved it.
More ‘edgy’ than the material to come in next albums, “Mr. Big” still sound fresh today, even more on this SHM-CD remaster.
A Must Have
Warner Music Japan ~ WPCR-13462
Ｍ Ｒ Ｂ Ｉ Ｇ 【ＬＴＤ ＳＨＭ－ＣＤ】
01 – Addicted To That Rush
02 – Wind Me Up
03 – Merciless
04 – Had Enough
05 – Blame It On My Youth
06 – Take A Walk
07 – Big Love
08 – How Can You Do What You Do
09 – Anything For You
10 – Rock & Roll Over
11 – 30 Days In The Hole (original Japanese Bonus track)
SHM-CD Bonus Tracks:
12 – Merciless (Demo)
13 – How Can You Do What You Do (Demo)
Eric Martin – lead vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitar
Billy Sheehan – bass guitar
Pat Torpey – drums
BUY IT !