Monday, February 20, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week

Review: Mr. Big “Live From the Living Room”

On the heels of their excellent reunion CD, “What If...” (review here), Mr. Big is releasing a new live set entitled, “Live From the Living Room” February 28. The story behind this recording goes like this: “At the end of January 2011, during a weeklong promotion of “What If…”, the band was invited to the WOWOW TV Studios in Tokyo to perform a special show in an acoustic setting. When the talk of a broadcast first came up, the guys wanted to present something different than they’ve ever done before. Thus the idea of an acoustic show came about and a string quintet was brought in to enhance the project even more, with arrangements provided by Takashi Miyazaki. Although Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan hooked up electric on a few songs, the show was still very much acoustic in nature throughout. Pat Torpey played various acoustic percussion instruments during the gig. The result from that magical night in Tokyo is now here: 10 Mr. Big classics in a completely new and fresh dress and a portrait from the very first ever acoustic show from the band.”

Given the sheer talent among the players in this band, and their string of radio friendly melodic rock hits, I was really looking forward to such an album. The musicianship is incredible and comes out loud and clear when played in the largely acoustic format. It is also obvious that the guys are having a great time performing this way. The vast majority of the set includes new cuts from “What If…”, including “Undertow”, “As Far As I Can See”, “Nobody Left To Blame”, “Still Ain’t Enough For Me”, “Stranger In My Life”, “All The Way Up”, and “Around the World”. As great as the new songs are, I would have loved to hear some of the classics done this way. To the band’s credit, they throw in a well done version of their #1 smash “To Be With You”, but that song was acoustic already. With so many outstanding songs from their extensive back catalogue, it is puzzling to me to hear middle of the road stuff like “Voodoo Kiss” and “Take Cover”.

“Live From the Living Room” is sure to please most fans of Mr. Big, but may not do much for the casual fan who enjoys only the older stuff. For anyone with doubts about the unbelievable talent in this band, hearing these stripped down performances should provide unshakable evidence.

Mr. Big – Official site.

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