Great White: ‘Stage’

Released in 1995 (Zoo Entertainment); reissued on February 21, 2020 (Deadline Music)

Deadline Music has reissued an expanded edition of Great White’s out of print 1995 live album Stage. If you own or have listened to Stage back in the day, you know that it was a raw, energetic display of a rock n’ roll band at its creative and musical peak. The recordings on disc one or Stage One were cut at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, California in 1994 while disc two or Stage Two was recorded at The Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim, California in 1993. Each disc contains seven cuts a piece. Clearly, that wasn’t the entire set from their respective shows, but it does feature additional content. The original 1995 issue of the album featured a total of 12 tracks. The Japanese version featured 14 tracks with the additional material being “Gone With The Wind” which made it onto disc one and “Love Is A Lie” which closed out disc two.

There are so many incredible moments on Stage including “Train To Nowhere,” the title track from the then new album by the same name “Sail Away,” “House of Broken Love,” “Congo Square,” the cover of The Small Faces’ “Afterglow,” The Angels cover of “Face The Day,” the blistering “Old Rose Motel,” the precursor to the Great Zeppelin live album, in the form of “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Rock Me,” another cover of The Angels in “Can’t Shake It,” and the Ian Hunter penned classic and bonafide hit single “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.”

Sleaze Roxx caught up with Alan Niven back in September of 2019 and here’s what he had to say about the album: “First of all, Stage was NOT a compilation. It was actually two shows, recorded at The Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim and the other was recorded at the House of Blues. When Great White and Capitol [Records] parted ways that was part of the ‘settlement.’ I got the masters [of the live recordings]. I thought that we had a good record. It was slightly different, but it would remind people of how great this band is.” Niven isn’t blowing smoke up your bum. Great White were playing a sense of urgency that you haven’t heard from them since. Niven went on to say, “Stage depicts a boat that is sinking. We are taking on water, we have a little lifeboat, but we can only grab a few things to take with us. If I could only take one Great White record to take with me, it would be Stage. That documents Jack [Russell] at his peak. The band has never sounded better on a recording. I think it’s really superb. I was listening to Stage the other day. I have a friend who took it to his studio and gave it a remaster. I have to say that I’m not a fan of remasters. He tightened up the bottom end and gave it a little more air on the very top and it didn’t compromise it in any way, shape or form. I would like to see the complete two-CD set reissued as it was intended to be released, like it was released in Japan.”

Well, now the two disc set is available as it was intended and while the two tracks that have made the reissue aren’t amongst my favorites on this set of recordings, their inclusion definitely adds a little more value for your buck. The packaging is a fantastic gate fold, digipak with two slots with two sleeves that house each disc, much like you would find in an LP with the real bonus for geeks like me, is the newly written liners by Alan Niven taking you inside the band at that time. Stage is highly recommended listening for diehards and casual fans alike.

Track List:
Stage One — The House Of Blues, Los Angeles, CA, 1994
01. Train To Nowhere
02. Sail Away
03. House of Broken Love
04. Maybe Someday
05. Congo Square
06. Gone With The Wind
07. Afterglow”

Stage Two — The Celebrity Theatre, Anaheim, CA, 1993
08. Face The Day
09. Old Rose Motel
10. Babe (I’m Gonna Leave You)
11. Rock Me
12. Can’t Shake It
13. Once Bitten, Twice Shy
14. Love Is A Lie

Band Members:
Jack Russell – lead and backing vocals
Mark Kendall – guitar, backing vocals
Michael Lardie – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Teddy Cook – bass, backing vocals
Audie Desbrow – drums

Produced and mixed by Alan Niven and Michael Lardie
1994 concert engineered by Wyn Davis
1993 concert engineered by Biff Dawes, Doug Field, Philip Kneebone and Dennis Mays
Remastered by Chris Catero

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Ruben Mosqueda for Sleaze Roxx, February 2020