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Review: Decades later, Mike Tramp re-records White Lion hits

Apr 13, 2023, 12:14 PM

This cover image released by Frontiers shows "Songs of White Lion" by Mike Tramp. (Frontiers via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Frontiers via AP)

“Songs Of White Lion” by Mike Tramp (Frontiers)

Imagine an Olympic champion runner who blew away the competition and won numerous medals in his heyday. Now picture that same runner 40 years later, wrapped in the same flag, but taking a leisurely stroll around the track.

That’s the problem with this album, in which Mike Tramp, the former singer of White Lion, re-records some of the hair metal heroes’ greatest hits. On the one hand, this is some of the finest music of the genre, and it’s great to have these songs back in circulation.

On the other hand, Tramp is now 62, and the voice that powered hits like “Tell Me,” “Wait,” “Little Fighter” and “When The Children Cry” is just not there anymore.

To his credit, Tramp doesn’t reach for what’s not available. But singing these high-energy hits an octave lower robs them of a good deal of their energy and immediacy.

His backing band, led by guitarist Marcus Nand, does a creditable job with these songs, but Nand is no Vito Bratta, the onetime Eddie Van Halen disciple whose bombastic fretwork is such an integral part of the White Lion sound.

“Lady Of The Valley” kicks off the album with a longtime concert staple, but it’s the first of many times where Tramp’s toned-down vocals keep the track from truly igniting. “When The Children Cry,” the acoustic classic that remains a radio staple today, becomes a piano ballad here, and “Broken Heart,” which was absolutely perfect on the band’s 1985 debut album “Fight To Survive” is as watered down and neutered here as it was when the band first redid it on 1991’s “Mane Attraction.”

If White Lion fans cry when they hear this, let ’em know he at least tried.

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Review: Decades later, Mike Tramp re-records White Lion hits