Earlier this year Jack Russell’s Great White finally put out their response to Great White’s 2012 Russell-less album ‘Elation’ – it was an album that covered a lot of ground musically but one which stepped away from the sound traditionally associated with the band. For fans of that ‘traditional’ Great White sound the great news is that ‘Full Circle’ which dropped on June 2nd is sonically very much what you might hope from the veteran L.A. rockers.
It’s been a long 5 years since ‘Elation’ and while that first Terry Illous-fronted release had its moments and stuck to the established sound rather faithfully ‘Full Circle’ does all of that and more. The songs here have dirtier blues rock grooves, bigger hooks, more memorable lyrics, even flightier solos, and whilst there was nothing wrong with Elation’s production by Lardie and Kendall, bringing on-board big name producer Michael Wagener really has tipped the balance.
Indeed it’s Wagener’s presence here that really rekindles those memories of those early sounds the band made on their 1984 debut full-length outing – and there’s a real sense that looking back at that album and their debit EP has given them the spark of creativity they needed, it might not be a revelatory re-connection but there is evidence enough in the grooves to suggest that the band wanted to get back to the basics of what made them so successful in the first place.
So if you like Great White’s bluesy take on hard rock there’s a lot to like here amongst Full Circle’s nine tracks. A great place to start is with the first single ‘Big Time’, a fine swaggering rocker that just maybe takes the prize from similarly melodic and uplifting rockers ‘I’m Alright’ and ‘Movin’ On’ that open the album.
It’s the bluesy rock of ‘This is the Life’ though that really seals the deal for me, Illous shines and really shows his worth and just three tracks in you can tell that Great White are not only in great form, they re gelling like they maybe haven’t in years. Even obligatory ballad ‘Let Me In’ is more than satisfactory, maybe even up there with their best slower numbers over the years.
The grit and sway of ‘Moonshine’ is another winner – a real old school hard rock anthem with the band in full flight, and again Illous shines on the raw and emotional ‘Cry of a Nation’ – two thirds of the way in you fee you’ve already had your money’s worth.
The final three tracks though may even be the best of the bunch – ‘Give It Up’ starts with a funky riff and simmers before hitting you with its hypnotic refrain; whilst ‘Big Time’ the single starts with that trademark searching Great White guitar shapes and builds to a solid rocker. Best of the lot though is ‘Never Let You Down’ the album closer which revisits that slow blues swagger of so many of Great White’s best songs and smoulders till the flames lap nicely and the song hits its crescendo before falling back again. It’s epic Great White and the song that could sell this album alone, though it’s also kind of bittersweet in that its the song (no disrespect to Terry who nails it) where you wonder what Jack would have done with it the most.
This is a way cool album… Seriously good…
TERRY ILOUS – VOCALS | MARK KENDALL – GUITARS | MICHAEL LARDIE – GUITARS, KEYBOARDS | AUDIE DESBROW – DRUMS | SCOTT SNYDER – BASS
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