Released December 15, 2010 (WHD Entertainment) and January 21, 2011 (Frontiers Records)
02. American Beauty
03. Stranger In My Life
04. Nobody Left To Blame
05. Still Ain’t Enough For Me
06. Once Upon A Time
07. As Far As I Can See
08. All The Way Up
09. I Won’t Get In My Way
10. Around The World
11. I Get The Feeling
Japanese Bonus Track:
12. Kill Me With A Kiss
Europe/North America Bonus Track:
Eric Martin – vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitar
Billy Sheehan – bass
Pat Torpey – drums
Produced and mixed by Kevin Shirley.
What if… What if? As the latest release from the mega-talented hard rock band known as Mr. Big‘s new album cover questions, What If… pigs could fly? Well, I know nothing of flying breakfast meats and tasty pork related bi-products (well that’s not entirely true, I’ve been known to punish a bacon buffet or two in my day) but I do know solid as a slab of granite rock ‘n’ roll when I hear it — and What If… is that and then some!
Many may be familiar with Mr. Big courtesy of their 1991 commercially successful release Lean Into It. That CD spawned some chart-busting power ballads and yes, it is a solid slab of radio friendly AOR. However I preferred the harder edged self-titled album and “Addicted To That Rush” is still one of my favorite hard rock songs from that era. What If… is not only reminiscent of the debut release, but continues where it left off. With that said, this disc blows both the self-titled and Lean Into It albums away! No lie.
What If… leads off with the melodic hard rocker with a great ‘undertow’ of a message, “Undertow” — and for the next 11 songs and 50 some odd minutes, there is nothing that could tear you away from this disc. It plays through perfectly. Think of those long plays that you put in, crank up and wail till you’re hoarse like AC/DC‘s Highway To Hell, Whitesnake‘s Slide It In, Def Leppard‘s High N’ Dry and Rush‘s debut to name just a few. The aforementioned albums, along with Mr. Big‘s What If… grabs you, moves you, and becomes a part of your psyche. These albums are like that quintessential rock anthem by Triumph — “Magic Power”.
It’s all about the music and the music is all about being consumed by that feeling you get when your favorite song/album is playing and you just get lost in it and you don’t want to be found for the next three minutes to an hour. After “Undertow” the powerful songwriting and ever amazing noodling from axemasters Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert keep coming at you at mach speed with a nice assortment of hard rockers and a smattering of ballads. “American Beauty”, “Stranger In My Life”, “Nobody Left To Blame”, “Still Aint Enough For Me”, “As Far As I Can See”, “All The Way Up”, “I Won’t Get In My Way”, “Around The World”, “I Get The Feeling”, the bonus track “Unforgiven” are all great. And my personal stand-out, “Once Upon A Time”, reminds me of some of my favorite King’s X tunes, with awesome Ty Tabor-like riffage and harmonies that could make angels cry.
What if… is certainly an album that fans of melodic hard rock will wish to partake in. Mr. Big is in rare form on this CD and as a listener I can feel the power that is pouring through my speakers as it must have been pouring out of the musician’s while creating this gem. I can’t sing the praises of this release loud enough, or long enough for that matter. Kudos to Billy, Paul, Pat and Eric for revitalizing Mr. Big and doing it right. Your musical prowess is not lacking and your fans old(ish) and new are more than grateful for the effort!
Reviewed by Terry Martinson for Sleaze Roxx, July 2011