The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




AUGUST 18 2014



Shadows of a past life creep into Mike Tramp’s lyrics on ‘Museum’ the second solo album that sees him explore more singer-songwriter oriented material like he did on last year’s ‘Cobblestone Street’, as he casually mentions the ‘Rainbow parking lot’ that well known haunt of rock and roll debauchers in the late eighties in the opening track.


Of course he mentions it to firmly set himself aside from it, and all these years later you have to believe the sincerity. An artist will always follow his muse of course and over the last few years you feel that muse has led Tramp to look closely at his place in our cherished memories. Unless you are constantly in the limelight of course reinvention is hard but it does allow a certain honesty and freedom to creep in.


While ‘Cobblestone Street’ unashamedly took us right back to Tramp’s formative years, ‘Museum’ seems the harder album as it keeps largely the same musical premise but without the wash of nostalgia that often allows the listener a cushion and an ‘excuse’ to listen. ‘Museum’ is Mike Tramp 2014 and the question he poses is the big one – is he still relevant? It’s a brave step to take.


Thankfully ‘Museum’ and the strength of the songs therein both solidifies Tramp’s convictions and also force us to see him as a valid and important musician in his own right. He’s not prepared to simply rest on his laurels as ‘former lead singer of White Lion’ because he feels that he’s at that point where he can accept the fact he will always have to  play certain songs if it means we will let in the new material and judge it for what it is. It’s an honesty few musicians with his background manage to embrace.


As Tramp himself says after a year on the road: “In many ways, "Museum" is like "Cobblestone Street", but another day in a new year, and where the previous left off, the present continues. What is different on "Museum", what is new? I say everything is new, but everything is still the same old. Because my songs and music is who I am and what I do. This is not a job I had to finish to move on, but another page in the diary of Mike Tramp. My pain and anger, my love and joy is for all to take a peek at. There's no makeup or make believe at my "Museum", but plenty of truth, heart and soul.”

And that essentially is the appeal here to those that have been on the journey with him all this time. And thankfully for fans old and new the songs here stand up for themselves from the opening strummed defiance of ‘Trust in Yourself’ (the first single) and the gentle sway of ‘New World Coming’ it’s an album that stands on its own two feet.


For those that want something different there’s a huge groove and swagger to the keys and horns of ‘Down South’; while ‘Slave’ adds some dirty deconstructed bluesy rock. There is of course more: ‘And You Were Gone’ is a song that you can imagine played on the radio, were radio not full of ‘label sponsors’ and in Australia at least Indie-pop banality.


Elsewhere tracks like ‘Better Mix’ and ‘Freedom’ have some fine lyrics but somehow fail to really shine. Where we really win is on tracks like closer ‘Time For Me To Go’ which offers up a heartfelt plea to those who have loved and lost, and is the kind of ballad Tramp has made his hallmark over the years. Best of all, maybe, is ‘Mother’ which strips everything back to the essence of Tramp’s music and simply shines. This is Tramp 2014 and Tramp at his very best. All you can really debate is his delivery. But for us the real beauty is in these stripped back songs just as they are. As a wise man once said “a great song is a great song, no matter how it is presented”. If you can strip everything away and the essence still touches people it’s a song that will shine forever. ‘Museum’ shines…



by Mark Diggins