Mr. Big is a band that I always thought should have been Mr. Bigger. These guys have all the makings of a super stellar mega band. Amazingly soulful, emotional melodies delivered through the great vocals of Eric Martin, ridiculous shredding lead guitars and bass lines courtesy of Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan, and solid drums and backing vocal harmonies from Pat Torpey. Like many other bands of this era, hit ballads like “To Be With You” (a number one single in 15 countries in 1992) and “Just Take My Heart” propelled them to musical stardom. These songs are an enduring testament to the melodies and writing skills this band possesses, but WTF? This only represents maybe 25% of what the band is all about. I shudder to think about all the absolutely brilliant rock ‘n’ roll music that music lovers all over the world are missing from Mr. Big.
Since 1989, Mr. Big have released nine studio albums including their latest piece of musical ear candy, Defying Gravity. On each of these records, there is something for everyone. If you’re a ballad lover, they have great ballads, and if you are a rocker like myself, there is plenty of that to make you crank it up. I will be the first to admit that as much of a fan as I am, I don’t love everything the band created. To me, Mr. Big is at its best when they are creating hard-driving, bluesy, groove-oriented rock and roll. Unfortunately, I may be in the minority given the band’s success with the ballads.
In 2014, Mr. Big released a killer album called The Stories We Could Tell. They’ve followed it up this year with another solid piece of rock in the form of Defying Gravity which marks the return of long-time producer Kevin Elson. Drummer Matt Starr, who previously recorded on Ace Frehley of KISS’s Space Invader album, also steps in to help out Pat Torpey who is fighting Parkinson’s disease which limited Pat’s participation.
Defying Gravity isn’t quite as raw sounding as Mr. Big’s last record. The album feels a bit slicker. That may be because the really good melodies on this record lend themselves to a little more polish.
It is a Mr. Big album through-and-through, meaning they don’t stray far from their formula. The instrumental and vocal work on the album is what you would expect from any Mr. Big album, which is by the way amazing. Go figure. I love Eric Martin’s voice. And show me a record with both Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan playing on it and I will show you a record where the playing is at as high of a level one can output.
The album kicks off with one of my favorites “Open Your Eyes” which is a dirty groove-laden rocker, that has a great bridge and pre-chorus. Next up is another fave, the title track “Defying Gravity,” which for some strange reason I could totally hear as a Night Ranger song. It’s a quick-paced catchy tune that had my leg thumping the entire time.
I think my favorite tune off the record may be the third track and latest video for “Everybody Needs A Little Trouble,” which is a bang-your-hands-on-the-steering-wheel, rock ‘n’ roll fun-tastic ride of a song.
The record has other notable tracks like “Damn I’m In Love Again” and “1992” that are for sure worth the listen. In fact, the whole damn record is worth a listen, as is their entire catalog. If you like rock and roll and only know their two major hits, please start with “Defying Gravity” and then return to the beginning with their first and strongly underrated self-titled debut.
I hate the fact that this American rock ‘n’ roll band has to play abroad more than they do right here at home to make a living. This band deserves a fan base that will support them here in the States, at least enough to get them to play my town. Oh wait, is that my selfish devil coming out in print again? I have to fight the voices inside my head once in awhile.
Anyway, as always get out there and support Live and Recorded Rock and Roll music.
It deserves the attention.
Agree or Disagree with my review? Please let me know how you feel about Mr. Big.
I would love to hear the good and the bad!!