The seemingly latest trend of reimagining albums might be something we’re likely to see more and more of in the very near future. Only recently, we have U2 recooking pieces of their back catalogue with Songs Of Surrender, Def Leppard took a trip into the unknown by collaborating with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on a bunch of deep cuts and hits, and Roger Waters added more salt to that chip on his shoulder by audaciously re-recording Pink Floyd’s hallowed The Dark Side Of The Moon. Though not as high profile but equally as intriguing is the fresh coat of paint Mike Tramp is giving to these most lauded White Lion tunes.
Mike Tramp – Songs Of White Lion (Frontiers Music Srl)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Brian Boyle
There was a brief period in the eighties when it was looking like White Lion were going to go stratospheric. The Danish-American band formed by Tramp and guitarist Vito Bratta were muscling in on the big boys with their second album Pride, and in turn, scoring hits like Tell Me and two US top ten hits in Wait and When The Children Cry.
Now 62 years young, Tramp is revisiting a bunch of the band’s classic songs and giving them a new lease of life.
“For me, the period of 1983-1991 was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Tramp says. “Everything I did back then was for the first time, and even though it was beyond exciting and adventurous when it came to an end, it was more than just the end of a band. It was also the end of a very specific time in my life that I had lived and been part of.
“Over the next 20 years, I would revisit that time in my life in small parts but never felt 100% comfortable with it. I simply could not force myself to recreate what I once was.
“Now, here I am again, the year is 2023, and I have recorded an album of the ‘big’ White Lion songs as close to the originals as possible, but exploring small new parts that today I feel should be that way. I am not 26 anymore, I don’t sing like I am 26, and I wouldn’t be doing justice to the songs or myself if I tried to sing like I am 26.
“Today, I sing the songs that I wrote with Vito Bratta over 40 years ago exactly the way I am today. This is the only way I can embrace them and feel at home and be honest to myself and the songs.”
In fairness to the great Dane, on the aforementioned trio of big hitters from the Pride album, he doesn’t force the issue, the vocals are more cautiously measured, but they still maintain their youthful vigour.
In a perfect world, this reboot would’ve been all the more sweeter with the inclusion of the virtuosic Vito Bratta, but guitarist Marcus Nand more than does justice to the work of the lauded New York guitarist.
For the most part, this album is a case of as you were, Tramp’s nicely aged pipes still sound fulsome on soft rock gems Lady Of The Valley, Little Fighter and their politically charged power ballad Cry For Freedom.
Re-recording some of your most cherished material is a brave move for any artist, but when you hear the quality of performance and attention to detail Tramp delivers on Broken Heart and Love Don’t Come Easy, you’ll quickly see that this was a worthwhile expedition.
Nitpickers may accuse him of hitting a brick wall creatively, but in truth, an embracing of the past is all that’s on show here. Hardcore fans will no doubt always stick to the original recordings, and why not? But if you’re a complete White Lion novice, then this could be the best rock album you’ll hear all year.