Mr. Big – What If… [Russian Import] (2011, Frontiers Records/IROND Records)
1. “Undertow” … 4:49
2. “American Beauty” … 3:44
3. “Stranger In My Life” … 4:26
4. “Nobody Left to Blame” … 4:20
5. “Still Ain’t Enough for Me” … 3:04
6. “Once Upon a Time” … 4:03
7. “As Far as I Can See” … 3:55
8. “All the Way Up” … 5:12
9. “I Won’t Get in My Way” … 4:40
10. “Around the World” … 3:51
11. “I Get the Feeling” … 4:34
12. “Unforgiven” … 4:16
Eric Martin – Vocals
Paul Gilbert – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Billy Sheehan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Pat Torpey – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Producer: Kevin Shirley
I waffled back and forth on picking this one up more than John Kerry because Mr. Big has never been of much interest to me. Sure, I own Lean Into It and despite that record having some standout tracks, I never thought it was ever good enough to where I needed to hear the rest of their catalog. The first few times I listened to “Undertow” after it was released late in 2010, I wasn’t impressed a bit and I had pretty much made up my mind I wasn’t going to get the album. But then the album was highly recommended to me by Rob Rockitt over at Hard Rock Hideout, so here we go…
After having listened to “Undertow” numerous times since getting this album (the song was on my iPod which is a high honor), I have to say I absolutely love it. Especially the break where it gets a bit funky. Other favorites are the metallic “American Beauty” and the ballad “Stranger In My Life”. “American Beauty” is apparently an old Mr. Big song that didn’t make their debut album. Reminds me a lot of Van Halen or David Lee Roth’s “Shy Boy” (which Sheehan also played on).
The album features a good mix of heavy numbers along with the slick melodic rock they are more known for. No offense to him, because even with a bit of wear he’s still a fine vocalist but I’ve always had a hard time buying Eric Martin on Mr. Big’s heavier and faster songs. I think he has a voice that is much more suited to the polished melodic rockers. Other than that, the musicianship on this album is fantastic and that really goes without saying. The interplay between Billy Sheehan & Paul Gilbert is amazing. Pat Torpey drives the songs and I have much more respect for him having watched a few of the band’s recent live clips on YouTube.
“Unforgiven” is a bonus track included for the North American/European release. I thought maybe we finally stuck it to Japan (Mr. Big’s biggest market) since they ALWAYS get bonus tracks but they ended up getting the exclusive “Kill Me With A Kiss” on their release. Anyway, it’s a decent tune that again showcases Gilbert & Sheehan.
The album has been pretty well reviewed by fans of the band and melodic rock sites so I imagine virtually anyone that’s liked what this band has done in the past will like this album. For me, I like the album but it isn’t something that will ever get much play from me. There’s just something missing from this band. Maybe it’s that they’re too good of musicians and too polished.
This is a used copy I picked up from Amazon.com… turns out it’s a Russian import and looks like it was released in collaboration with UK’s Classic Rock magazine — cool!
Highlights: “Undertow”, “American Beauty”, “Stranger In My Life”, “Nobody Left To Blame”, “I Won’t Get In My Way”