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Like it or not, Great White is going to go forward without Jack Russell. And like it or not, they’re going to let him carry on his legacy and use the Great White name. Once the fight was over and lawsuits were settled, the only unfinished business for Jack Russell’s Great White was to record a new record. Coming out on January 27th on Frontiers records, He Saw It Comin’ is, in at least some way, Jack’s shot across the bow.
I’ve gotten to see Jack’s band a few times since the split. He went through a handful of lineup changes, but it seemed with each change the band got a little bit better. There from the beginning was Robby Lochner, an unheralded talent, JRGW went for a more aggressive hard rock sound that harkened back more to the sound of the self-titled record and Shot In The Dark than the more bluesier sound that gained them their highest fame. I found the idea of that band with Jack’s voice intriguing.
The opening track “Sign of the Times” doesn’t really deliver on that level, but it is a well-crafted song and right away you can tell the sound of the record is stunning. Jack sounds staggeringly good. Hearing the opening the lines of him singing, you almost feel that you’ve taken his voice for granted. The song is good, except for the use of the now dated ‘sung through a paper towel tube‘ sound effect before the first chorus.
The next track “She Moves Me” seems an odd choice for the second track of a record, but it harkens back (maybe a little too much) to the …Twice Shy era of Great White.
This is the same for “Love Don’t Live Here”, but in a more effective way; a very classic GW Blues Rock killer, perfect for a road trip. And in an odd way, so too is the next track, the auto-biographical “My Addiction”. Jack has been refreshingly open about his struggles with substance abuse and he bares a little more here. Told in a more general sense, I suspect there will be no shortage of people who can relate to the lyrics of this song.
When it comes to influence, Jack is often linked with his ability to sing Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant. But five tracks in, I keep hearing the Beatles subtlety guide the songs. Maybe it’s Robby’s contribution, but the song “Anything For You” drips of Lennon/McCartney. This is a touching tribute to Jack’s wife. He follows this with what surely seems like a shot at his former bandmates (more like bandmate) with the title track “He Saw It Coming”. Again, a Beatleseque vibe to start. In so many ways the last five years leading to the release of this record have been a reclamation project for Jack. Reclaiming his life. His dignity. His band. His identity. It boils over on this track.
The opening of “Spy Vs. Spy” gives the listener a taste of just how talented a guitar player JRGW guitarist Robby Lochner is. The subsequent song is quite an adventurous choice which the band lands quite well. “Blame It On The Night” is a rocker that would’ve done well as a record closer were it not for one last curve ball called “Godspeed”. Another nod to the Fab Four, with maybe a bit of Billy Joel (think “The Longest Time”). “Godspeed” is a sweet and slightly silly homage to simpler days of jukeboxes and sock hops. For f*cks sake, I drove to Sonic to get a milkshake in my convertible after hearing it…And I live in Minnesota…And I don’t even own a convertible!
Rounding out Jack’s band is former Vamp drummer Dicki Fliszar, recent addition bassist Dan McNay and on guitar/keyboards is former GW bassist Tony Montana. Don’t let his bass playing past in GW fool you, my boy can f*ckin’ play guitar.
Kudos to Jack for not giving up. For surrounding himself with an extraordinary band. For taking back what was his. And for giving us another record filled with his voice. Give it a chance. Give HIM a chance. You won’t regret it.