An album like this is both a reward and a tragedy. In 2012, Great White joined the ranks of L.A. Guns, Queensrÿche and others, as groups divided into two versions. Internal issues and external legal battles over name use and song rights that only hurt the band and sully the legacy of the music. Like any divorce, it’s the children (read: fans) who suffer.
In 2010, Great White brought XYZ vocalist Terry Ilous on board to replace band co-founder Jack Russell. Lat year, they released their first studio album with Ilous, “Elation“, to solid critical response. The band just released the album’s newest video for “Hard To Say Goodbye”.
On February 26, 2013 the band released a live celebration of 30 years, going back to their roots at the Sunset Strip. It seems almost impossible not to feel melancholy at the thought, and a little broken-hearted that it’s done without the band’s trademark voice.
I take nothing away from Ilous when I say this, for he’s a great vocalist and a wonderful person, but Great White is not great without Russell’s voice. Some bands can change vocalists and not miss a beat, but this is one instance where it cannot be done without losing part of the magic.
Having said all that, “30 Years” is a wonderful live retrospective for Great White. They sound like they’re energized and having fun. The current line-up includes co-founder and guitarist Mark Kendall, along with long time members Michael Lardie (keyboards, guitar) and Audie Desbrow (drums). Bassist Scott Snyder joined in 2008.
“30 Years” is basically a live hits collection culled from the band’s early years. They open with “Desert Moon” from their 1991 release, “Hooked“, from which they also played “Can’t Shake It”. From their 1989 monster “…Twice Shy” they pulled “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, “Mista Bone” and “House of Broken Love”. From ’87′s breakout album, “Once Bitten” they performed three songs; “Rock Me”, “Save Your Love”, and “Lady Red Light”. Other highlights included the hits “Face The Day” and “The Big Goodbye”. The newest song performed is the title track to 2007′s “Back To the Rhythm”. Nothing from “Elation” which seems a touch odd considering this is the live album debut with Ilous.
The entire set is soaked in the band’s trademark blues swagger, and the songs are performed with tight rhythmic precision. While there are some notable absences such as “All Over Now”. “The Angel Song” and “Call It Rock n’ Roll”, in all Great White delivers a satisfying set with “30 Years“. By the time you get midway through the album the first time around you manage to forget Jack’s gone, and by the end you’re just happy that they are still swimming in the murky depths waiting to attack.
Music is the universal language: Speak it loudly!
Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.