Mr. Big - Ten

Mr. Big – Ten (Album Review)

Mr. Big 2024 band

By the time the early ‘90s arrived it seemed as if a new era of Hard Rock was taking shape. Far less glamorous and more stripped back, Grunge was born… and everyone seemed to love it. Such is revolving door of time and change, out of Southern California came a band calling themselves Mr. Big that seemed to defy the trends.

Coming together originally in 1988 after Bassist Billy Sheehan left David Lee Roth’s backing band, Mr. Big were a bit different than anything else going on at the time. Were they a Glam Metal band? No. Were they a Grunge band? Most recently not. So, what exactly who and what was Mr. Big? Well, Mr. Big formed on the foundation of some exceptional musicians; including the aforementioned Billy Sheehan, Vocalist Eric Martin, Guitarist Paul Gilbert (known prior for his work with the Heavy Metal band Racer X), plus Drummer Pat Torpey (who had played with everyone from Belinda Carlisle to Robert Plant).

A unique bunch, their approach to music was much more Blues Hard Rock based, and certainly leaning heavily toward an ‘80s sound with acts like Whitesnake or Great White. This in mind, they applied their unique backgrounds into something all their own that found them major success in 1991 with the sophomore album Lean into It. An outstanding album anchored by the number one single “To Be with You,” this was just the beginning for Mr. Big. From here, they dished out one stellar heavy and bluesy Rock record after another; including 1993’s Bump Ahead and 1996’s Hey Man. Striking the interest of audiences abroad, the band has sustained a massive international audience since those early years, and now in 2024 return with the anticipated new album Ten.

Ten, their first studio album in seven long years, comes with a lot of stories in tow. First, it marks the band’s first studio since the untimely, tragic loss of original drummer Pat Torpey in 2018 after his battle with Parkinson’s disease. An extremely striking blow to the band, there is no question they felt it in more ways than one. Not only did they lose their drummer, a vital part of the band, they lost a friend. Torn, there were some who wondered if Mr. Big would ever record an album ever again. Plotting out The BIG Finish Tour in 2023, it seems a spark of inspiration arose inside the band, thus resulting in Ten.

A tour that is dubbed their farewell, it is set to continue throughout the summer of 2024, and who knows where after that. A perfect chance to catch Mr. Big live, the album itself arrives on July 12th through Frontiers Music s.r.l. and is a bit different than what you may have heard from Mr. Big with 2017’s Defying Gravity. Looking back, Defying Gravity is an album they admittedly were not entirely pleased with the final product, but Ten seems to right all the wrongs in a big way. In fact, one of the first things that strike you in the face with Ten is the stellar production which is dynamic, powerful, but always full of energy. Produced by Jay Ruston and the band themselves, handling the drumming in place of the late, great Tropey is Nick D’Virgilio. D’Virgilio, a highly competent drummer who has worked with everyone from Tears for Fears to Peter Gabriel, certainly brings a fire that fits the bill.

Consisting of 10 tracks, 11 if you include “8 Days On the Road” which will be on the European edition of the album, there are really no dull moments throughout Ten. Seeming a bit rawer in some regards, yet amply more polished in other respects, the mood is right, the songs are full of memorable hooks, and the vocals of Martin are emotionally straight from the heart. With a lot to enjoy, some big standouts include “Good Luck Trying,” which kicks you right in the face as the start, “What Were You Thinking,” which oozes Classic Rock-n-Roll tendencies, plus the smoothness of “I Am You.” This is while others such as “The Frame” and “As Good As It Gets” offer a diversity in the tempo and overall feel that make listening very fun.

So, is this the final Mr. Big album that will ever be recorded? It is highly possible, but no one can ever really tell the future. Whatever it might be, it is an album the band should be extremely proud of, because it is one heck of a collection of Hard Rock tunes with a shot of soul. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Ten 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Mr. Big - Ten
Mr. Big – Ten / Frontiers s.r.l. (2024)

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