Defying the years, the odds and showing class always shines through…
Released on 21 July 2017 by Frontiers Records and reviewed by Stephen Brophy
When any band has members as talented as Mr. Big, you sometimes wonder how they never achieved world domination. That’s not to say they haven’t been very successful, but the early 90s certainly weren’t easy for hard rock bands. This is a band that has made some excellent albums in recent years and Defying Gravity certainly shows no decline in quality. A different direction than 2014’s …The Stories We Could Tell, the main thing on this new album is the sheer variation on display, eleven songs that are very different but at the same time work so well together.
Though some of the songs may not be as immediate as people tend to look for these days, there are many subtleties here that hit you over time listening through the full album. What can appear as fragmented in places is actually an excellent body of work. Already among my top releases of the year, I’m very interested to see how these new tracks fit into a Mr. Big live set. The rockers, sure, but some of the slower songs could bring a different dimension to things.
The highlights are many, from the wonderful simplicity of ‘Nothing Bad (Bout Feeling Good)’ to the beautiful harmonies on the closer ‘Be Kind’ or the crunchy title track and the excellent ‘Mean To Me’ with flurries of activity throughout. There’s a slight hint of the 70s, certainly musically, on the funky rocking opener ‘Open Your Eye’s’. and as always the musical backdrop is full of solos, guitar and bass.
The sublime guitar playing of Paul Gilbert is always a joy to hear and when you add to that the equally sublime bass playing of the legendary Billy Sheehan, it’s a very difficult combination to find fault with. Although drummer Pat Torpey has been held back over recent years with the onset of Parkinson’s disease he has remained a tight knit member of the band along with bringing in the excellent Matt Starr to do a lot of live and studio work. There’s always a purity and a sense of mischief about Eric Martin, a massive talent with one hell of a voice. It’s a major part of what makes a Mr. Big album so recognisable. And bringing Kevin Elson back in as producer for the first time since 1996’s Hey Man has also helped to bring out some of the early feel to this one.
- Open Your Eyes
- Defying Gravity
- Everybody Needs A Little Trouble
- Damn I’m In Love Again
- Mean To Me
- Nothing Bad (Bout Feeling Good)
- Forever And Back7
- She’s All Coming Back To Me Now
- Nothing At All
- Be Kind