RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Great White - 30 Years - Live From the Sunset Strip
Frontiers Records
http://www.frontiers.it/album/5115/

Rating: B-

Great White is one of the most successful bands to ever come out of the Sunset Strip scene of the 1980’s.  It is fitting that they return to their roots to record a concert celebrating three decades in the music biz.

The elephant in the room is that lead vocalist Jack Russell is gone from the band.  Replacing him is former XYZ vocalist Terri Ilous.  This is where it all becomes murky.  For starters, Great White is celebrating their anniversary, but the original members say nary a word and instead let Terry, in his broken English, be the emcee of the evening.  It would have been nice, at least for this special show, to have the others do some of the in-between song banter.

Ilous is no doubt a more pure singer than former vocalist Russell.  The band would have been smart to include two or three new tunes from their studio album with Ilous, Elation, to serve as a buffer between then and now.  That said, there is nothing wrong with Terry’s voice, just the opposite, as he can belt it out.  He has the daunting task replacing Jack, as Russell, despite his demons, was an iconic member of the hair band era.  It is understandable why he is gone, and Ilous does his best, but, suffice it to say, it takes some getting used to.

Now, lets be real for a moment, the last few times Great White went out with Jack Russell it was not the Jack Russell of old.  His performances were sub par by the end of his tenure with the band.  In that aspect, Ilous is a breath of fresh air.  It is a shame that the Jack Russell of today is unable to deliver the goods due to the self destructive path of addition he is currently immersed in. 

Now that we have had that discussion, it is time to move on. Musically, this album smokes.  Mark Kendall is a damn good guitar player and he really steals the show throughout the concert.  His performances on “Face the Day,” “Can’t Shake It,” “Rock Me” and “Save Your Love” are simply put F-I-N-E fine!  Michael Lardie, Scott Snyder and Audie Desbrow also play well during the concert. 

The sound quality is okay, yet it could be more dynamic.  The band was playing at the Key Club and perhaps the small venue made the album tough to get an arena sound.  Again, nothing wrong with it, but it just could have been, for lack of a better word, louder.

Great White, despite the issues described above, are taking steps in the right direction.  Few bands have had to overcome tragedy and brand name deflation like Great White and getting back to this point has been no easy task. 

At the end of the day, Great White and Ilous still could be a great fit.  They have toured a while and they have one album under their belts.  It will be interesting to see what the band do with their next studio effort.  If they hit it out of the park then Great White will truly be back.
The bottom line here is that 30 Years - Live From the Sunset Strip is a good album, not a great one.  But, lurking underneath there is hope for this band yet.  They have the musicianship and once the fans accept that Jack is gone forever they will grow to love Terry Ilous, as he is a great singer.  This album shows the band beginning to work through their growing pains, making their fans have just a little bit of hope for the future, which in Great White’s case, is a wonderful thing.

If great guitar playing is your thing then nothing what I have said in this review really matters, as Kendall’s playing on this sucker makes it worth the price of admission.  He is playing better than he has ever played, his phrasing is perfect and his rock and roll attitude is totally intact.   

By Jeb Wright

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