Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winger ~ Winger (aka debut)

(Click on heading to visit official website)
Style: hard rock, hair metal
Label: Atlantic
Year: 1988
Home: New York City

Members: Kip Winger ~ lead vocals/bass/string arrangements
Reb Beach ~ guitars/b. vocals
Rod Morgenstein ~ drums/b. vocals
Paul Taylor ~ keyboards/rhythm guitar/b. vocals

Additional: Beau Hill, Ira McLaughlin ~ b. vocals
Sandra Park, Rebecca Young, Hae Young Ham, Maria Kitsopoulos ~ strings

Guest: Dweezil Zappa ~ guitar solos


I've enjoyed guitarist Reb Beach when I heard him before so I decided to go back & listen to his breakthrough early days with New York City's own Winger. Winger is, obviously, essentially focused on frontman Kip Winger .... deja vu of Dokken here. The difference is I prefer Kip's singing over Don's ... though both are of the mold of cliched 80's tenor singing/hollaring that may not have aged that well, but I just enjoy Kip's tonal quality better. But, then there's the lyrics. I'm not a fan of Don Dokken's & these aren't really that much better. There really is only so many songs you can write about how you're hungry for some chick's love & how you can't go on without her & the 80's weren't always a good time for anything but cliched love songs. Were these guys writing these lyrics because they had nothing else to say or that they didn't think folks wanted any other topic, or that chick cherry pie songs got on the radio faster? It makes a great voice excrutiating painful after awhile to hear such blather. But, at least there's some good sing along choruses with Winger. Just avoid power ballads "Waiting For A Heartbreak" & "Without the Night", though the former does have some good guitar solos but drags horribly. When all your songs are about chicks & then you write a power ballad about chicks the variation on a theme doesn't go that far. Same song just played slower & not necessarily better or more interesting because it is slower ... or more importantly, at the time they might have sounded good but the power ballad doesn't always age well. I'm glad the obligatory power ballad is no longer obligatory. Forcing the emotions might still happen but getting rid of this one track is one step back to real emotions. It's hard to say if the lyrics you'll remember from this debut album by Winger but I'm sure the guitar you will, so let me return to the reason I'm writing. Not enjoying Don Dokken I always turn my ear to guitarist George Lynch. Not being big on Kip Winger's words I turn to the band behind him & what a band. Obviously Beach on guitar, but he's got some good bandmates, together turning in a very heavy sound, almost too heavy at times for the pop lyrics they're being handed. Or, maybe I should say I'm more reminded of some of Y&T than typical 80's hair metal of the era. But, this is New York City glam rock, the Skid Row variety, no the Poison variety. The coasts are different. One of them doesn't wear make-up & is copying from Twisted Sister, the other is copying from Hanoi Rocks. I prefer New York City. There's a gristle to the riffs, let alone super technically challenging which I've continued to see in Beach when he lets it all out & decides to break the mold. Ironically, Beach was a successor to Lynch in Dokken, the one post Lynch album I like by them. While these are your straight forward 80's glam rock songs the guitars are swinging out something with more feeling & a harder deeper sound. It's quite shocking. Yes, you can almost visualize the band in your mind with big hair & leather pants & you would probably be right. But, go back & ignore the obvious moments of the era, ignore the lyrics & go for the guitars. Trust me you'll like them. There's something really good here & it has never gotten the accolades it deserves. As starters check out their cover of "Purple Haze". Not so bad ... if you picture Van Halen doing it, because it certainly doesn't sound like Hendrix ... & seeing how many times this song gets covered I'm happy to hear Beach's great playing over a powerful funky rhythm & even some good singing ... oh, & Dweezil Zappa shows up to trade solos in this one too & you may not have heard a dueling guitar "Purple Haze" before. This particular line-up would make a second album before Winger became a trio for a third album only to die by the hand of grunge soon after. Beach went on to play in other bands, currently Whitesnake, Kip Winger went solo & the other guys returned to the world of session playing. They'd reunite for a couple great albums. Okay, okay, Kip Winger often gets a bad wrap, so I have to give him some kudos having said I didn't care for his lyrics. Not too many lead singers were out there who were also bassists. It definetly makes him more interesting to watch.

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