Jack Russell’s Great White – “He Saw it Comin'” (Frontiers Music)
Jack Russell. Great White. Two names that are indelibly etched into the LA glam metal scene of the 80s. Although never charting, Great White would release the platinum selling “Once Bitten” and eventually go on to sell something in the region of 8 million records worldwide. With success came the inevitable demons of excess, along with hospitalizations, departures, firings and by 2001, it was the end. However, having played with guitarist Mark Kendall since 1977, it wasn’t long before the two were together, touring as ‘Jack Russell’s Great White’ in 2002. Following renewed interest, more tour dates were added, culminating in The Station night club tragedy that would see the band return to the national spotlight, albeit this time in infamy. With the next few years spent in settlement of the 100 or so victims, band breakups and bridge building – not to mention Jack Russell himself battling more demons, it wasn’t until 2006 that Great White would reform, issuing their “Rising” album in 2009 before Russell underwent surgery. In 2011, he returned but amazingly under ‘Jack Russell’s Great White’ and with a new line up! Unsurprisingly, litigation commenced resulting in the settlement that he would continue under this name, while the remaining members including Kendall, would continue under Great White. With his former band mates rumored to hit the studio at the beginning of 2017, I’m not sure if Russell decided to get one in first – but “He Saw it Comin'” seems to be a prophetic title! Recruiting a veteran band in former Great White bassist-turned-guitarist Tony Montana (now as a guitar player and keyboardist), Dan McNay (Montrose) on bass, Robby Lochner (Fight) on guitar and Dicki Fliszar (Bruce Dickinson) on drums, Russell has built a powerful, song writing core with Montana to recapture the glory days of Great White along with Lochner, who’s been him since the inception of Jack Russell’s Great White. Together they’ve forged 11 tracks of solid hard rock, rock n roll and ballads that definitely have an 80s stamp on them, but without sounding dated and contrived, clearly designed to represent the next phase of Russell’s legacy. Central to all of this is of course, Russell himself and without a doubt, his voice throughout is in remarkable condition and unbelievable in how youthful it still sounds! From the fast paced rocker of ‘Spy vs Spy’ with its catchy lines and chorus, there’s a definite energy to the band and dare I say it, a new found purity in Russell’s performance. ‘Crazy’ takes you right back to the days of 80s Sunset Strip, with its street sassy and funky licks once again building up to another catchy chorus only matched by Russell’s teasing tones – clearly still with plenty of cheek n attitude! By contrast, his tender voice truly brings a touching element to the ballad ‘Anything For You’, building slowly acoustically to a harmony climax that nearly broke my heart. ‘My Addiction’ pretty much speaks for itself, with a sleazy beat provided by McNay’s throbbing bass and some sliding guitar, along with Russell switching to a more trippy style for lyrics like ‘…my addiction’s my only friend, stay with me till the end..’ – yeah, I get the impression this debut is more than just a collection of songs, but an autobiography of the man’s life in the (very) fast lane – and it’s a best seller!!!!