MR BIG SPRING SURPRISES ON 'DEFYING GRAVITY'
Mr Big: 'Defying Gravity'
Released July 21st 2017 (Frontiers) 17th July 2017
So here we are, Mr Big's ninth studio album. Have they still got it? Am I counting records correctly?
On first spin it's clearly a very cool record with standout melodies and harmony. It's very groovy and they've still got that crazy impossible speed on dual guitar and bass. But we expect all that from Mr Big don't we?
Compared to their recent releases, it sounds clearer and more lively. It also sounds like a better planned album, which is misleading as somehow they recorded the thing in six days total. Six days for a full album is pretty incredible these days. How did they manage that? Did they stay up all night as Slaughter would have done?
It seems the way that they did it in record time was by playing live like bands used to. In many cases this included guitar and bass solos and vocals. Not many bands do that these days but it gives the record a fresh feel, like you're in the room while they're playing.
Song wise it's great. You wouldn't expect anything less from Mr Big, would you?
Also it struck me that even if they hadn't written any good songs this time, Eric Martin has that kind of voice that makes anything he touches sound great. He could sing nursery rhymes and I'd buy it. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a pretty voice?
Looking at the highlights, I'd have to firstly recommend the opener, 'Open Your Eyes', and the title track instantly. Both are catchy, mid-paced groovy rockers, as you'd expect on a Mr Big album. On 'Damm, I'm In Love Again', it's Eric at his charming best and I can see the girls in the front row falling for this, as always.
But it's the unpredictable side to this album that I'm loving.
It used to be a tradition that the first song on a Mr Big album was a 'shred' song. 'Addicted To That Rush', 'Daddy, Brother...', 'Colorado Bulldog' etc, now the big face-melter is halfway through in the form of 'Mean To Me'.
To me this is unlike any Mr Big song I've heard before and reminds me more of Paul Gilbert's solo work, but with the added bonus of having Mr Sheehan's crazy bass backing it up and of course Eric's vocal, making it one of the best Paul Gilbert songs I've heard in years. If you're the type of Mr Big fan that's only there for the shred, skip straight to this number then put the rest of the album on shuffle.
Then the there's the 6/8 shuffle of 'Forever And Back' and I wasn't expecting that either. When a band surprises you on their ninth album, they're doing well in my books.
'1992' is a song about the history of Mr Big. Starting from nowhere, getting to number one, falling apart and now back here because of fan support. Again it's rare to find such honesty in a band's lyrics. Usually it's easier to write about dungeons and dragons or fictional girlfriends than look your fans in the eye and sing "Record company said to us 'thank you man', then they threw us right into the garbage can". That takes an amount of balls.
The last song, 'Be Kind', is a little bluesy number but I wasn't expecting Paul's best solo of the record. You know what they say about saving the best till last...
The band spoke about the making of 'Defying Gravity' in an exclusive video which is premiering today here on MetalTalk. Here it is, for your enjoyment.
Mr Big will hit the UK in November for a six-date tour to promote their new album. The UK shows are the concluding dates of a headlining European tour on which The Answer and Faster Pussycat will also appear. Dates are as follows.
16th November: Nottingham Rock City
17th November: Northumbria Institute
19th November: London O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
21st November: Manchester Academy
22nd November: Glasgow O2 ABC
23rd November: Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall