Great White: Jack Russell (vocals); Michael Lardie (guitar, keyboards, electric sitar, percussion, banjo, background vocals); Mark Kendall (guitar, background vocals); Teddy Cook (bass, background vocals); Audie Desbrow (drums). Additional personnel: … see full wiki
Great White is forever known as the band that can imitate Led Zepplin. This is quite a compliment but it is in no way indicative of the band. This band has produced many great albums and some that are a little lacking. Their music runs the gambit from sweet love song to hard rocking, guitar blasting, crunching rock and roll. The album "Sail Away" is in the most part, a showing of their quieter side. This album is almost an unplugged version of their music.
The copy of this album that I own, also has a bonus CD called Anaheim Live. I will also review this CD here. This bonus CD let's you hear just what the band is like when they are on stage and really ready to rock!
The two CDs combined, make a unique compliment to each other. One the one hand you have the quiet studio music and on the other, the loud and proud stadium rockers that Great White has been known for. This CD is a super addition to your collection and shows the diversity that makes this band better than the run of the mill groups of today.
The album starts with "A Short Oveture." This is a very apt title. This is 38 seconds of piano and strings that set up the next song...
"Mother's Eyes." This is a very tender ballad about a mother reminiscing about a son that was killed. The song seems to indicate that he is murdered in a gang related setting. She wonders what she did to cause him to turn to this type of life. This is a very good song in both it's story and it's presentation. The haunting voice of Jack Russell is set against a lonely acoustic guitar. It gives this song a very eerie effect. This song is one great intro for this album that will really make you sit up and take notice of this great band!!
The next song is a powerful song called "Cryin'" This song is a subdued rocker that is about the problems with relationships that a rock and roll star has. It deals with the life away from their loved ones and the loneliness that they feel when they can't be with them. The band uses a combination of acoustic guitars and very mellow electrical six strings to produce a feeling of melancholy that carries throughout the song. Russell's voice again reflects the anguish that this song is trying to convey. This is one of the best songs on the album. It has such a great blend of all the ingredients that Great White can bring to the table. Some very fine guitar playing, perfect harmonies, fiery lead vocals and a rhythm section that keeps the whole thing together! What more can you ask for in a great power ballad?
"Momma Don't Stop" is an uptempo rocker where the band shows how to blend the electric and acoustic elements of the band together, to produce a very high quality thumper! This song really burns it up with some scorching electrical solos set against the acoustic rhythm guitar. I really like the way that they did the arrangement of this song. A great rocker!
A real power ballad, "Alone" is as strong of a statement about trying to find the one true love in your life, as any song I have ever heard. This song will have you thinking that Russell is sitting in a room somewhere all by himself, just reflecting on his life and wondering if he has made the right choices along the way. Evidently he hasn't since he is ALONE in that room! Mark Kendall adds a real touch of emptiness to this song with his effective guitar solo. This is one of the definite high points of the album. A great song with a great feel to it. This is worth the price alone!
One of the best "feel good" songs to come along lately is the next one, "All Right." This song is about how you can't give up. Keep trying and guess what...everything will be all right! This acoustic number will have a great effect on your psyche without a doubt! Almost anthem like in some parts and in others almost spiritual in it's message and presentation. This song is as uplifting and infectious as any you have heard! Another must have for your collection.
The title track "Sail Away"is Great White's tale of the trip on the sea of life. There is much to navigate on this trip and the only way to make the voyage is to set sail and then, sail away. This is another good song on this album, that has one of the strongest guitar solos on here, but all in all, it is not the best work on this CD. But if this is the worst effort...then the other stuff must be absolutely astounding!!
"Gone With The Wind" is a wonderful torch song, that grabs you right off the bat and holds you with it's great feel of a lone soul who is left by his lover and doesn't know how to deal with it. A hollow sounding piano provides the background and the guitar work of Kendall provides the power to this song that is one terrific arrangement! Clarence Clemmons also provides some very blistering sax work as only he can do, in this great song.
I hate to say this, I mean I really hate to say this, but if you want to hear a song that shows life in the U.S.A., excuse me Bruce, but "Livin' In The U.S.A. is a song that is THE song for this country. What a perfect slice of life Great White captures with this song. Everyone from the factory worker to the corporate president will be able to relate to this song that needs to be heard! It is that good. This song is the American Dream wrapped up in about 4 minutes.
The "Sail Away" CD ends with the very touching ballad, "If I Ever Saw A Good Thing." Russell's voice is perfect for this love song. This is the perfect ending to a great CD. He sends us off with a song that makes you stop and look over at your loved one and just nod your head in agreement with his singing! Clemmons also adds a great touch with his sax again. He does some masterful work on this song. It gives it that something extra that only a player of his caliber can provide!
Now it is time to blow the roof off! The second CD is one blistering live set. It opens with the song "Call It Rock N' Roll." This song is a crunching number where the guitars take the "let's peel paint" attitude! This is one of those anthem rockers where the whole audience helps sing it between the scorching guitar solos! It is time to crank it up and let the neighbors get a good dose of Great White!!
The band then fires into "All Over Now."Again the guitar playing of Kendall shines as he provides the licks and Russell provides the voice to this high energy dose of rock and roll. You will be hard pressed to keep still with the energy that is shown in this furious rocker. Kendall's playing will amaze and delight you on this song. He plays as a man possessed!!
"Love Is A Lie" is the ballad that serves as the calm before the storm. A very moving song where Russell provides us with the anguish and pain that is felt when you are victimized by a loved one. He sings it with all the venom of a spurned lover. This is a very good song and is helped out by the great piano work of Michael Lardie and the spooky and gripping guitar work of Kenall one more time! This song has to be a show stopper. It is that good.
Next up is one of Great Whites most dynamic songs. It is a bluesy tune that allows Kendell to tear the roof off with his thunderous six string attack! He can just flat out play!! This song alone will prove that fact! If you want to hear a true guitar player plying his craft, take special notice of this song. Just keep in mind that this live version has a lot more of Kendall than the studio version! This is where the band really stands out. Live on stage. It is never more evident than with this song. A mediocre studio version at best, becomes a flat out rocker live!
Now we get to their ode to Zepplin. They are one band that can do Zepplin and make it sound good! "Babe(I'm Gonna Leave You)" is one of my favorite Led Zep songs and Great White plays it note for note. Russell is one of only two singers I know of who can pull off singing a song like this and make you think that you are hearing Plant! This song is spooky in the fact of how close to Zep they sound! Even the guitar playing is note for note the same as Page's work. It is well worth a listen.
"Rock Me" is one of those songs where the band lulls you in with it's slow bluesy beginning and then slaps you in the face with a blast off that is hard rock at it's best. This band has that rare quality of a great singer and an outstanding guitar player. This makes for some of the most powerful music you will hear. This song is a fine example of that. A scorching rocker that really delivers!!
The live CD ends with their biggest hit, the remake of Ian Hunter's "Once Bitten Twice Shy." Here again, Great White plays it as close to the original version as possible. This high energy rocker has seen a great resurgence with this remake. The band does a fantastic job with this rock and roll classic. They give it the royal treatment and by the chorus, they have the whole place singing the song along with them! Kendall is as always, superb on the six string. He fires through this song with all the intensity of a laser beam. This is a great way to end a concert. Leave them wanting more.
This is a great two CD package. If you can find it still. All the CD's I have seen lately have only the Sail Away one. I do not know if the live one is still available. If it is, it is well worth picking up. You will have a different perspective on this band after listening to these completely different CD's. Both are well worth purchasing, together it is a real bargain!