“The Definitive Rock Collection” by White Lion

Artist: White Lion
Title: “The Definitive Rock Collection”
Label: Rhino Records
Release Date: 1/23/2007
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

Formed in 1983 by singer Mike Tramp and guitarist Vito Bratta; White Lion was a band that would rule the Melodic Hard Rock scene of the eighties. Together with drummer Greg D’Angelo and bassist James Lomenzo they would become darlings of the MTV sector with a number of their videos and while often associated with the “Hair Metal” focus that was prevalent at the time, would offer fans deeper musical content than many of their contemporaries. Theirs was the perfect formula for success with the pinup looking front man in Tramp and the guitar god in Bratta and this often found the pair being compared to the likes of Van Halen members Dave Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen. The offering of more socially relevant songs as opposed to what many of their contemporaries would be doing allowed the band to stand out a little more from the general pack. Yes they had some rousing anthems for love like “Tell Me” or “Love Don’t Come Easy”, but there was also “Little Fighter” which referenced a Greenpeace ship and “When The Children Cry”, their ballad that tugged at the heartstrings. With White Lion you got deeper stuff than that which focused on drinking and partying hard. Growing up in Brooklyn at a certain time allowed me to remember quite clearly how exciting this band was on stage and how well they were received by the audience. You felt as though you were a part of something special with White Lion and while I grew into much heavier stuff I always held them in special regard in my musical heart.

This compilation or “The Definitive Rock Collection” as it is labeled is exactly that – a fully loaded deck of musical cards that brings the absolute best of this band right back to your attention. While they were together they recorded four albums, “Fight To Survive”, “Pride”, “Big Game” and “Main Attraction”. They also delivered a “Greatest Hits” package at the end of their career. Being one of the older fans of the group I was pleased to find “FTS” represented but was sad that several numbers were still overlooked. The long out of print release is worth searching for based on tunes like “Cherokee”, “All the Fallen Men” and the original version of “Broken Heart”. “Pride” would be their mainstream introduction to the larger public and from this release every major tune is included with most being in studio format and the remainder from an unreleased live concert from The Ritz circa 1988. I liked the inclusion of this concert as opposed to “newly discovered tracks” which some compilations of this type often toss into the mix. The show gives the listener a great idea of how the band was live during the still budding years of their popularity as it comes from the “Pride” tour.

Sadly, the bands breakup would come with levels of animosity and as a result there was no real farewell tour, reunion album or acoustic show on MTV Unplugged. Tramp would continue on with “Tramp’s White Lion” and be the only original member present and everyone knows that is not the same at the end of the day. Bratta would fade from the public eye while Lomenzo and D’Angelo carried on in other bands going forward. The diehard fan might appreciate the fact that an “Anthology” was released by Deadline Records a couple of years ago and features missing edits and pre-release versions of many of these tracks from Tramp’s own archives. This however is the true Anthology since the songs here are the official versions. Despite my possessing a little bit of the fan boy mentality about these guys this collection from Rhino Records really delivers on all levels. Featuring almost every track of note from the four albums and the bonus concert to boot just adds to the overall treat of the piece. The bands back catalog has never been remastered so this also gives you cleaner and more sonically representative versions of the songs you loved way back when. It’s time to shout it out loud and clear for one of the eighties most important contributions to Melodic Hard Rock one more time.

Track Listing:
1. Fight To Survive
2. El Salvador
3. Wait
4. Tell Me
5. When The Children Cry
6. Lonely Nights
7. Don’t Give Up
8. Sweet Little Loving
9. Little Fighter
10. Radar Love
11. Goin’ Home Tonight
12. Let’s Get Crazy
13. Don’t Say It’s Over
14. Cry For Freedom
15. Love Don’t Come Easy
16. Broken Heart
17. Lights And Thunder
18. Farewell To You
19. Hungry – live
20. Don’t Give Up – live
21. Lonely Nights – live
22. Sweet Little Loving – live
23. Broken Heart – live
24. Fight To Survive – live
25. Tell Me – live
26. All Join Our Hands – live
27. Wait – live
28. Lady Of The Valley – live
29. The Road To Valhalla – live
30. All You Need Is Rock N Roll – live

Official Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Lion
Official Website: http://www.miketramp.dk

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