Winger: ‘Seven’

Released on May 5, 2023 (Frontiers Music Srl)

Just about 20 years ago, I went to go see Kip Winger solo twice in the span of a few months. Once was with Dokken with a band from Atlanta in support called Grayson Manor with Brad Cox on vocals. A few months later, just hours before I had to board a plane to go to a cousin’s wedding back in New Jersey, I saw Kip Winger with Slaughter and Whitesnake on the Rock Never Stops Tour. My tickets were “Business Class” because my cousin worked for the airline and I showed up in a pair of black sweats and a “Rock Never Stops” T shirt with Kip Winger, Slaughter, and Whitesnake on it. They wouldn’t let me through the gate unless I agreed to turn the shirt inside out as it wasn’t high class enough. So, I did to get through the gate, and switched it right back the other side of check in. That’s a pretty un-Stewart like move, isn’t it?

That long story above was to illustrate that even though Beavis and Butthead made being a Winger fan about as cool as announcing you have Covid in a crowded elevator, because the fat nerdy kid Stewart wore a Winger shirt while Beavis and Butthead wore the Metallica and AC/DC shirts, I never was afraid to show my support for the band. For the record, I still am not. The strange belief that Winger is the stereotypical hair band is kind of absurd to me. For one, Kip was a hairy dude and while there were a few cringe clips from the “Seventeen” music video, Winger had a more diverse and sophisticated sound than a lot of bands in the genre. I love them all but many were clones of other bands and sound-a-likes to Mötley Crüe, Ratt, and Cinderella. Winger was its own animal with its own sound. And, Kip Winger had played bass for Alice Cooper so he already had established his own credibility even forming Winger. So, consider this open to be me saying that while I loved old school Beavis and Butthead and other Mike Judge created shows that also referenced Winger in various degrees of praise and negativity, I never was one to subscribe to allowing a cartoon to dictate what I like and what I don’t. So, I’ll proudly stand with you like I’m at an AA meeting and say my name is James Walsh and I’m a Winger fan!

So, here we are in 2023. Winger hasn’t put out a new album in quite a while and word breaks that we’re going to get a new one. For me, I was excited with Whitesnake sidelined with a David Coverdale illness I fear is more serious than we’re told. Reb Beach has been too quiet for my liking so anything he’s on playing guitar, I’m all for. The fact that it is back with Winger, I’m even more for! And with that, lets get to the review of the Seven record! “Proud Desperado” kicks off the album and it sets the tone for the album. The guitar work is epic. Kip‘s vocals sounds great too. It is a groovy track that kind of sounds like a call back to the IV record of 2006. “Four Leaf Clover”, by the way, on that album is my favorite Winger song of all time. Just sharing that tidbit! “Heaven’s Falling” is a catchy song that really is driven by a bad ass guitar solo like “Madalaine”. But, it does start to illustrate that there is a little bit of a haunting thing going on in the record where the songs have an almost creepy aspect to them like everything that was ever on a Bonham album. Anyone else picking up what I’m putting down?

“Tears of Blood” is next and this was the video I saw before I got the record. The video features Kip with a tuff of either dyed blonde or gray hair at the front with lighting that strongly resembles the best stuff Impact Wrestling, WWE, and AEW star Matt Hardy ever did during his odd yet somehow insanely entertaining “Broken” phase. I remarked on Kip looking like Matt on YouTube and Kip himself seemed to get a kick out of me saying so but said since Kip is 61, it is Matt who looks like him! With that said, this is a very cool song driven by a very Dokken like guitar riff by Reb Beach who was on my favorite Dokken album, Erase The Slate. It keeps the haunting, almost creepy overtone of the record going but, delivers it with a little more venom. “Resurrect Me” picks up the tempo and delivers the first real four on the floor straight ahead rocker. I think this might be my favorite song on the album. It has defiant lyrics and a little more swinging is involved. I dig it. Hearing Kip go for it in this song really delivers. This is some great stuff, pal!

With a song like “Voodoo Fire”, do I need to say the album returns back to a little bit of a creepy approach? But, this is super catchy and kind of gives me a little bit of that “Down Incognito” vibe. That, by the way, is my second favorite Winger song. I’m throwing in little nods here and there for your reading pleasure! “Broken Glass” is next and has a little bit of that ballad vibe. In a weird way, it has a little bit of KIX‘s “Don’t Close Your Eyes”. Very catchy track. “It’s OK” reviews itself. It’s OK! Want to know mroe about it? Well, it has a guitar riff that harkens back to something in between Bon Jovi‘s “It’s My Life” and Alice in Chains‘ “Man In The Box”. Noodle that one. This has a heck of a groove to it and departs a little bit from the haunting, creepy vibes of some of the earlier tracks. Not entirely. But, it is OK! Maybe a little better than OK!

“Stick The Knife In And Twist” harkens back to the Karma sound with a little bit more heavy lyrics. Though more hard rocking, the lyrics kind of remind me of “Janie’s Got A Gun” by Aerosmith. A mistreated girl takes out her monster father. A story as old as time! Such venom in this track. It warms my black little heart! “One Light To Burn” is Winger through and through. But, there are aspects of this that remind me of some of Joe Lynn Turner‘s solo material with soulful, dark lyrics that are sold so well by the vocalist’s delivery — in this case Kip. What a bad ass solo on this track too. Reb is a beast! “Do Or Die” is one of those songs that have lyrics that reaffirm my world view and my place in it in the way many of Crazy Lixx‘s songs do. Simply put, I’m legally blind. So, that’s what the situation is for me. I have to deal with that every day. Do I want songs that tell me how hard someone without any real struggles have it or do I want songs that say do or die? I’ll take the Winger. Beautiful song! “Time Bomb” is a cool song. I’ll admit that I have been really digging Skid Row‘s song by this same name of late and for whatever reason, even though Buckcherry and likely a dozen other bands I have records of have songs by this name, I find I’m comparing Skid Row‘s song to Winger‘s here and that isn’t a fair comparison. It is apples and oranges. But, the head does what the head does. “It All Comes Around” returns to a more creepy sound. A nice, haunting song to end the album!

All in all, this album was a surprising hit with me. I just wasn’t sure what to expect after a few duff albums of late that failed to really land with me both by younger bands that do real rock and roll and by veteran bands. This one landed really well. Kip and company deliver here with a meaningful, powerful, excellent musicianship album. This album is a fantastic expression that almost sounds like a heavy metal, hard rock Fleetwood Mac in a way. It is great stuff. Unlike other albums, I lived with this album about two weeks before I started typing. I wanted to do it justice. It deserves it!

Track List:
01. Proud Desperado
02. Heaven’s Falling
03. Tears of Blood
04. Resurrect Me
05. Voodoo Fire
06. Broken Glass
07. It’s Okay
08. Stick The Knife In And Twist
09. One Light To Burn
10. Do Or Die
11. Time Bomb
12. It All Comes Back Around

Band Members:
Kip Winger – lead vocalist, bassist 
Reb Beach
– guitarist
John Roth
, – guitarist
Rod Morgenstein – drums
Paul Taylor – keyboards

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by for Sleaze Roxx, May 2023

Winger‘s “Tears of Blood” video:

Winger‘s “Proud Desperado” video:

Winger‘s “It All Comes Back Around” video: