“Absolute Hits” by Great White

Artist: Great White
Title: “Absolute Hits”
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: 3/29/2011
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 3.75/5

2011 marked the 29th Anniversary for the band Great White and it would be wrong to say that they have not had an interesting if not sometimes dramatic history over those three decades. The band formed in 1978 and was active as Great White until around 2001 when original members opted out while others continued to tour and perform material from the bands classic era. It was one of these groupings and not the original lineup band that is associated with the terrible fire at The Station club that killed 100 people. “Absolute Hits” celebrates some of the bands best, and while I could never call myself one of the bands truest fans, there was a handful of songs that I still line out as favorites in the Melodic Hard Rock list that I keep in my head. Some of the older fans like myself might remember them as being one of the openers for Judas Priest’s “Defenders Of The Faith” tour while the slightly younger than that crowd recalls some fondness for the MTV hits that came care of the “Once Bitten” and “Twice Shy” albums. I’ll admit that I attended that Priest tour and was less than taken by Great White at the performance but this view was based on a pure, full on Judas Priest mentality. I simply didn’t want to see anyone else. That being said, the new compilation of “Absolute Hits” gives strong favor to the bands MTV era and that makes complete sense to me based on how much many of these tunes were being played on the network.

The strongest concentration of tunes comes from the bands 1987 “Once Bitten” and this was the release that found the smooth, blues laden track “Rock Me” which was a song that even had a subtle but sleek video to it as well. Other notables from this release were “Lady Red Light” and the great ballad “Save Your Love” which really showcased the register of singer Jack Russell. In the end five tunes come from this release which left two thirds of space for several other albums. In between the years that “Once Bitten” and “Twice Shy” were released, Capitol re-issued some of the bands EP’s and a live release or two but none of those are represented here. We pick up the hits retrospective with 1989’s “Twice Shy”, an album whose name and signature hit come from the song penned by Ian Hunter – “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”. This was perhaps the biggest song of Great White’s career and while it was that of another performer, we saw this happening several years before when Quiet Riot delivered Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize”. After this album the band remained popular but nothing that came from them was cited as juggernaut level hits. The albums “Hooked” and “Psycho City” were good and have some representation on this retrospective but to my ears nothing from them knocked my socks off like the previous two recordings. Their fans appreciated them and still followed them, but the larger grouping of support seemed to move onto other acts, myself being included among this number. I think the problem with a band like Great White was that while they were really good at what they did, it was hard to “sell” them to an audience that was focusing on the glitz and the glamour of Heavy Rock. Tesla was put in the same position in some sense but nothing stopped them from entertaining their fans. Great White was also known for being a knock you out Led Zeppelin song performer, and they released a killer “Great Zeppelin” album. I would love to see a comprehensive piece that brings together all the covers they issued as singles or bonus tracks sometime in the future as that was some good stuff and worthy of re-examination as their fan base hits their late forties and fifties.

I enjoyed this release but found it disappointing that it was yet another retrospective piece with no liner notes and only a single photograph of the band. The idea of a hits piece is to spark interest in the bands back catalog (at least to me it is) and if there is nothing to peruse the curiosity level of the listener eventually fades as they reach for another CD to play. Either way, this album does help one recall some of the brighter moments in the bands history and that is worth celebrating.

Track Listing:
1. Call It Rock & Roll
2. Once Bitten Twice Shy
3. Mista Bone
4. Save Your Love
5. House Of Broken Love
6. Stick It
7. Old Rose Motel
8. Rock Me
9. All Over Now
10. She Only
11. Lady Red Light
12. Desert Moon
13. Face The Day
14. The Angel Song
15. Big Goodbye

Official Website: http://www.greatwhiterocks.com

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