Winger broke up in ’94, but reunited in 2001. Part of the reunion entailed new music. Before they finally released a new album (Winger IV), they tested the waters with one new song on The Very Best of Winger. Yes indeed, you had to buy a “greatest hits” to get the new song. At least Winger also gave you a Japanese bonus track for your money too.
New tune “On the Inside” was written for Pull (their third album and last before breakup) but recorded for Very Best Of. It’s a chunky, heavy tune with splashes of anthemic keyboard in the chorus. It really underlines that Winger could write and play with integrity when they wanted to. Reb Beach’s solo is unorthodox and outside the box. “Hell to Pay” is listed as an outtake, but it was actually released as a Japanese bonus track to Pull. Stuff like this saves collectors for shelling out mucho dinero for a Japanese import. Good sassy tune, and listen for that scorching outro.
Pull was a record that never got a shot, so it’s OK that the first chunk of tunes are from that album. It deserved a second chance. These are standout songs: “Blind Revolution Mad” smokes white hot, and with depth. “Down Incognito” has a bright, memorable chorus contrasted with groovy verses. 90s-style riffing worked perfectly on the track “Junkyard Dog”, a seven-minute thrill ride through different textures. Winger were not playing it simple. Even their ballads from that era have more heft. “Spell I’m Under” has edge under those layered melodies. Few songs are as starkly lovely as “Who’s the One”.
The Very Best of Winger takes a dive after the Pull material. The CD is in reverse chronological order, which almost never works. Yes, it highlights the most current sounding music, but at the cost of consistency. Winger II: In the Heart of the Young was, let’s be honest, not good. The ballads were sappier and the rockers too cheesy. Only “Rainbow in the Rose” really fits on this set. Past the dreck, the four singles from album #1 are included. This means the CD at least ends on an up, though the ballad “Headed for a Heartbreak” is a bit anti-climatic.
Go for The Very Best of Winger if:
a) you want to check this band out, or
b) you want the rarities.
Your needs might be met by just buying Pull.