Hard rock supergroup Mr.Big are back with a vengeance with their eighth studio album “The Stories We Could Tell”. The original line-up of Eric Martin on vocals, Paul Gilbert on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass and Pat Torpey on drums are back with some of their most powerful material to date. This album seriously rocks in a classic, groovin’, blues-rock way, Mr.Big lives up to the name.
The last studio album “What If” was very well received, with lead single “Undertow” reminding people just how good Mr.Big are. So this has a lot to live up to.
‘Gotta Love The Ride’ opens up the new album, it is a loud great tempo rocking track, with a bluesy feel to it, however there is a groove that runs throughout this track, that drives this song along, an amazing opener that gets and better with each listen.
‘I Forget To Breathe’ is up next, and follows the same bluesy route. A simple, yet effective chorus keeps this track rocking, while a great guitar solo drives it along.
Track 3: ‘Fragile’ seems to start off as a ballad, but then the blues based guitar riff kicks in and it heads of in a different direction. Eric’s voice is magical on this, delivering the song with real passion, while Gilbert’s playing on this track is immense, easily the best song so far.
Track 4: ‘Satisfied’ is a simple hard rock track, basic in structure and delivery, however listening to it more and more you begin to hear the complex bass playing of Billy Sheehan underpinning the song.
The production on this is very different than on ‘What If’, Billy’s bass is well mixed, not as front and center as it was before. If “What If,” marked the band’s return to their signature hard rock sound, then this new album is a step back in time, to a retro era, a more 70’s blues sound.
This is still Mr.Big though, as the groove this band possesses runs throughout this new opus with such ease. They make it sound so easy, you forget just how good and highly respected each individual members are, but put them together in Mr.Big, and this is what you get. Magic.
Track 5 is ‘The Man Who Has Everything’ the first of two ballads on here. An acoustic guitar intro gives way to a big soulful vocal from Eric, his voice still sounding as good on this as it did on the debut Mr.Big album 25 years ago, the orchestral strings add a gentler yet fuller sound to the song, however just when we think it can’t get any better, Mr Gilbert comes in with a perfectly timed, short and sweet solo. The man is a genius.
Track 6: ‘The Monster In Me’ opens with a Billy bass run, the track is heavy, dirty, raw. This track belongs to Billy, everybody follows his funky chugging riffs, until finally Gilbert manages to break away into a ridiculously good solo.
Track 7 is ‘What If I Were New’ is a different track altogether with the chorus being the fastest part of the track, however that is Mr Big’s style, to keep evolving, trying something new, and to the most part they have succeeded with the choppy guitar work breathing life into this song.
Track 8: ‘East/West’ has a short acoustic intro before the track comes to life. We seem to be leaving the Blues on the back burner for the moment and heading back into rockier waters. A great blend of Acoustic and Electric guitar underpinned once more by Billys sophisticated bass playing.
Track 9 is ‘The Light Of Day’ and stays on the rock route, with a big groove, big guitars, fast bass work and Erics killer voice all add up to a great track, however it is the latter part of the song that will make you sit up and listen even more as Gilbert and Sheehan do one of their famous dual solos. Just brilliant.
Track 10: ‘Just Let Your Heart Decide’ is the 2nd ballad and far better than ‘The Man Who Has Everything’ Eric sings this one deep, almost sultry in a way, before a glorious chorus washes over the entire song, you’ll be singing this one for weeks. A classic Mr.Big ballad.
Track 11: ‘It’s Always About That Girl’ sticks to the big rock sound, and finally I get a chance to praise drummer Pat Torpey. With Sheehan and Gilbert about poor Pat never really gets a look in, but if you strip back the layers, you will find him there, pounding away. And what an impressive job he does.
This record could be Pat’s swansong however as it has recently been announced that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. While he did finish the drum tracks for this album, he will be unable to play ( mostly ) on the upcoming tour. Mr. Big intends to announce a drummer in the near future who will handle most of Mr. Big’s drumming duties on the tour and hopes that Pat Torpey will jump on the drums on suitable live songs as well as participating in the group’s acoustic set.
Track 12: ‘Cinderella Smile’ is another mid tempo rock track, though nothing instantly grabs you, with, it certainly gets better after a couple more listens. With its simple chorus line it does grow on you, the groove gets to you.
And finally onto the last track, Track 13: The title track ‘The Stories We Could Tell’. Though not the strongest track on here, despite it carrying the album’s title, but like a lot of the songs on here, has a groove running through it that drags you in, and makes you listen to it again.
Another strong showing from Mr Big, rounding off what will certainly be in my top 10 albums of the year, if not my number 1.I feel this new album from Mr.Big is not an instant attention grabber, it’s more subtle than that, it requires multiple listens to discover the hidden gems on this, Eric’s singing has never been better, Pat’s drumming is tight and regimented, allowing Billy and Paul free reign to run riot over this album with, quite frankly, some stunning playing, both feeding off each other yet never losing sight of the songs direction and structure. An amazing record.
Album Track Listing:
01) Gotta Love The Ride
02) I Forget To Breathe
05) The Man Who Has Everything
06) The Monster In Me
07) What If We Were New?
09) The Light Of Day
10) Just Let Your Heart Decide
11) It’s Always About That Girl
12) Cinderella Smile
13) The Stories We Could Tell
Eric Martin – vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitars
Billy Sheehan – bass
Pat Torpey – drums
The band’s eighth studio album is scheduled for release in the UK on Monday 22nd September, followed by North American release on Tuesday 23rd September via Frontiers Music . “This new album rocks,” says Paul Gilbert. “I love playing guitar, singing, and writing with Eric, Billy, and Pat. And after 25 years, I’m proud that we can make an album that is melodic, powerful, interesting, groovy, and emotional.” “We wrote songs individually and collectively on this new record,” says Eric Martin. “To me this is the album that we’ve threatened to make decades ago. A classic, groovin’, blues-rock record with the spirit and spark of our rock and soul idols from the 70’s.