REVIEW: White Lion – Mane Attraction (1991)

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WHITE LION – Mane Attraction (1991 Atlantic)

I was expecting a lot more out of Mane Attraction.  Most fans are of a mind that Big Game was not as good as Pride (to varying degrees) and the band seemed to agree with them.  In a guitar magazine interview, Bratta and Tramp proclaimed that they had toned it down on Big Game, and the next album would be much heavier, and more epic.

In many respects, that was true.  Mane Attraction has an 8-minute epic and two more songs clocking in at 7 minutes apiece.  There are heavy moments here that are equal to the heaviest on Fight to Survive.  Producer Richie Zito captured the heavier sounds with polish and clarity.  Where Mane Attraction stumbles is not on the heavy songs, it’s on the sappy, pathetic, limp, impotent ballads.  Side one has two in a row!

Things get off to a solid start.  “Lights and Thunder” is everything the band promised it would be.  This is the kind of uncompromising heavy rock that the band had been trying to do.  It has a trippy quality as it navigates different moods and sections.  It is quite probably the best song on the album.  Notably, Bratta’s style has become less fluttery and displays more balls.  “Leave Me Alone” too is adventurous, sort of a heavy metal funk hybrid.  It has a great heavy guitar groove, but Mike Tramp’s lyrics are absolute shit.  “Can’t touch this”?  Jesus Murphy.  It’s a shame because “Leave Me Alone” is pretty great musically.  You could headbang to it just fine; trust me, I know.

From Fight to Survive (the band’s indi debut) comes a re-recording of “Broken Heart”.  It is a commercial hard rocker, and it reminds me of early Europe.   New keyboard parts made it more pop and radio friendly, but it didn’t get the radio play the band needed.  Plenty of keyboards can also be heard on the other single, “Love Don’t Come Easy”.  Releasing a song this soft as the first single was commercial suicide; people were craving heavier sounds.  “Love Don’t Come Easy” (originally titled “There Comes A Time”) is a good song, but it did not make a strong first impression for a single.

On album, the band chose to chase this lukewarm single with a sappy ballad called “You’re All I Need”.

I know that she’s waiting,
For me to say forever,
I know that I sometimes,
Just don’t know how to tell her.
I want to hold and kiss her,
Give her my love,
Make her believe,
‘Cause she doesn’t know,
She doesn’t know.

Mnfnrhshitrmfn.

And then…wait for it…

Another ballad.

There is least some cool organ and bluesy guitar on “It’s Over”, but why the hell would you put so many soft songs in a row?  I’m sure back in the day the band were trying call this a blues, but that would be stretching the matter greatly.   “It’s Over” closes side one, and I need to go and get some air, because these stuffy ballads are making me feel ill.

FUCKING

Intermission

Alright, I’m back, I’ve cleared my head.  Side two begins with a bang; literally.  “Warsong” was written by Tramp and Bratta as a response to the record company asking them to write “another single”.  Musically, this is a fantastic song, propelled by Greg D’Angelo’s relentless beat.  It too exhibits multiple sections and a couple killer Bratta solos (the second drastically different from the first).  Where it loses once again is in the lyrical department.  I know Mike Tramp has written many songs condemning war, and I know that the Gulf War was going on when he wrote this.  What I took issue with was the line, “I know there’s nothing good in war, I know ’cause I’ve been there before.”  I don’t think it’s cool to say you’ve “been there before” unless you actually have.  I think it’s inappropriate.

“She’s Got Everything” is a cool groove.  The lyrics suck again, but that’s expected now.  My advice is just to sing your own lyrics over Mike Tramp’s.  For example, where Mike sings this:

“So we left the party, and drove to her place,
You could see excitement written on my face.
So she took me upstairs, laid me on her bed,
When she got undressed I just lost my head.”

Try singing this:

“Sheeba dabba dobby, n’ log in fireplace,
Soo loo ba dooby doo, pooping in the place.
Shooba dooba dabba, the man in the shed,
La dee da da dee da, eating loaf of bread.”

Better, right?

“Till Death Do Us Part” is a fucking wedding song, except nobody in the entire world ever used it as such.  It has a cool, atmospheric bass intro, but then it’s off to the honeymoon in downtown Shit City.  The only good thing is Bratta’s solo, the icing over a very rotten cake.

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It’s too late to save the ship from sinking now.  “Out With the Boys” is another stupid lyric, but at least framed in a good rock song.  Once again White Lion lay the groove on hard.  Then Vito Bratta takes a solo slot with “Blue Monday”.  This electric blues was written and recorded for Stevie Ray Vaughan who had recently died.  Too little too late, and rendered pointless by yet another ballad.  Mane Attraction closes on “Farewell to You”, and I say good luck, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, etc.

Mane Attraction is over an hour long.  If it had been 30-35 minutes long, like rock albums from a past era, this would have been a very different review.

2/5 stars

MANE_0005I’m doing an ear-cleanse now.  To Van Halen, not Van Hagar.

 

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38 comments

  1. White…ever.

    Proof that grunge or whatever you choose to call it needed to happen. Actually I really blame Nelson.

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      1. I think Nikki Sixx’ first born son is called Gunnar as well. It’s a pretty common Swedish name. If you’re 180 years old…

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    1. Dude, Nelson were brilliant. So they were called the Timotei Twins, but besides their lame look, they wrote som awesome AOR on their first album. Their comeback, Lightning Strikes Twice, was great as well.

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        1. Yeah, I never had a sister. What I know of, anyway. But if I had one, I bet she’d be into Nelson.
          Still, that was ages ago and today your sis might be cool. So maybe you should give ’em a shot?

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        2. My sis went from New Kids on the Block to Nelson, so it was a step up.

          Here’s what I remember about Nelson (except Bobby Rock being in the band which freaked me right out):

          1. I didn’t like that song Love and Affection (?)
          2. I did like that song We Don’t Own This World, from the Lynch CD.

          Actually my sister did used to rave about the quality of that album. And she’s kind of a world class musician today. She hasn’t been to Sweden though. Closest she’s been were the Netherlands. Played a gig there.

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        3. Then, pick up their album and give it a go. Love And Affection isn’t their best track even though I like it.

          So, does sis play in a band or is sis a solo artist. Any chance one might have heard of her?

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  2. Ok Mike I hear ya….or read ya!…hahahaha
    As far as White Lions 3 major label releases I found this one the best one of all the others even back than I could not listen to those other two releases from front to back.
    So when I picked this up I thought well not too bad I agree they should have chopped off some tracks and made it a 40 minute release which would have been better….by this time Yeah Tramp probably gets my vote for Fruit Loop Lyricist of the century …I mean too bad they didnt hire someone to edit,change words cuz this one has there best production and the some of the grooves were pretty good with Vito and the boys!
    I would have to give it a 3….the other two would be …
    Pride-2.5
    Big Game-2

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    1. Thanks for your words Deke! Always good to have your perspective added.

      I think I may as well go ahead and review Fight To Survive, and Best Of. But not for a little while, I really have had enough White Lion for now!

      Jon’s right about Tramp, he isn’t the greatest singer ever either.

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  3. Ha, another great review! I guess I’m in the minority when it comes to Big Game—I’m actually very fond of that album. As for Main Attraction, the only two songs that I actually like are “Lights and Thunder” and “It’s Over.” The ballads are excruciating and the rockers are just vapid. Props to the art department though, I’ve always loved the cover.

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    1. Thanks Christopher! Much appreciated!

      I actually never liked the cover to be honest! The only cover of theirs that I do like is Pride. Big Game…I’m not sure, I’ll have to check my Google street view, but I didn’t think there was a big wheat field across from the White House.

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  4. Haha. Love what you did with the cover. Sorry, I farted…
    Otherwise, good review. The chainsaw is there to be used… :)
    It was a while since I heard this album and I know I like it better than Big Game – lots better – or maybe I should write less crap.
    Because I remembered that I though that this album was pretty good, but when I read the song titles you dropped in your review, I realise that I really don’t like it all. I forgot about those ballads – those useless, crappy shit ballads. And I also think that Warsong and Leave Me Alone are pretty lousy. I don’t think that White Lion are capable of writing those fast metal-like tracks. Which kinda doesn’t leave much. Lights ANd Thunder, Love Don’t Come Easy and Broken Heart (minus the stupid keyboard, I prefer the original) are all really good, but reading this review reminds me why White Lion never became a huge act. And it’s not only because Mike Tramp can’t sing for shit. They weren’t good enough song writers.

    That said, James Lomenzo and Greg D’Angelo left the band after the release of this album and was replaced by Tommy Caradonna and Jimmy DeGrasso. And then they split up because nobody gave a shit about them anymore. Your rating was fair, I think. I’d give it a 3 or 4/10.

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    1. Thanks!! You’re the first person to mention that fart picture (which was my favourite). You gotta figure, LoMenzo’s all by himself for a reason!

      I’m really glad you enjoyed this review and got you remembering these ballads. Like I said, if this was a 40-45 minute album, this review would have been totally different. And you’re right about Tramp. I’d hate to hear him sing acapella.

      I was always surprised when James and Greg quit and then they hired two guys who (I think) had been touring with Alice Cooper. But then again, both James and Jimmy DeGrasso ended up in Megadeth so we know their musicianship was always solid.

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      1. Yeah, Lomenzo is one of my favourite bass players. He played with Zakk Wylde in Pride & Glory as well. Let’s just hope that he never starts to play with Geoff Tate – The Voice Of Queensrÿche…

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        1. Yup and on Wylde’s solo album before that.

          I’ll try to remain open minded about Tate’s future work. If he hooks up with cool people and doesn’t act douchey, I’ll give him a chance.

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  5. Okay, gotta say I differ to most here in that always thought this record very good easily the best of the White Lion catalog. Sure it’s ballad heavy but most those have a heavy underbelly about em, the kinda depth rarely found in this genre for example the Poison’s and Warrant’s of the world (respectfully of course, Warrant went on to prove their worth and then some once ditching the miserable Cherry Pies), prime example being It’s Over with its slow but foot taping bottom end, just great passion great depth in my books.

    Vocally Mike may have been an acquired taste but he always performed with that passion bringing much emotion to their material which again, eased the frustration of overuse of ballads.

    Call me crazy (and no doubt many will), but even up against the magnificence that came before such as Pride, the songs Wait, Children Cry the epic Fight For Freedom personal fave Little Fighter and many their earlier songs, Mane Attraction was in this fans opinion a very consistent record and hands down some of the best writing the band had executed yet.

    Lights And Thunder was one of the best openings of any album from its genre, bravely executing such a longass tune to single was unheard of. Warsong and could be viewed as the prequel to Mike’s Freak Of Nature (which I hope Mike got onboard with too – some of the greatest Tramp songs period!) and even the poppy throwaway Out With The Boys is a singalong if one can turn a blind eye to the lyrical waste HA and in the vein of Whitesnake, the re-record for Broken Heart was arguably an improvement on their original!?

    But they save the best for last with Farewell To You, as if the band knew this was to be the last record the song draws on the emotion even moreso, perhaps one of the finest tunes the band have delivered.

    Thankfully the pain was shortlived with Mike moving on to form the ‘as good’ Freak Of Nature!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s all good man, different strokes for different folks! I admit that I do enjoy ripping an album from limb to limb from time to time but it’s supposed to be all in fun so I hope you enjoyed anyway.

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      1. Always enjoy man that’s the key! Just like to reattach couple those limbs here and there if think it’s warranted.

        All good :)

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