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MR. BIG ‘Ten’ Album Review by Jorge Pozo

mr. big

After years of eagerly awaiting new material from Mr. Big and grappling with the tragic loss of their beloved drummer Pat Torpey, the band has offered a resplendent farewell with their tenth studio album, ‘Ten’. This culmination of over three decades of rock mastery is further heightened by the extraordinarily talented Nick D’Virgilio, who, despite having colossal shoes to fill, has fit seamlessly into the band’s dynamic, forging a new path forward on drums. The artistic growth and undeniable essence of the music, albeit with a tinge of bittersweet nostalgia over Torpey’s absence, make this album an unforgettable experience.

The opening track “Good Luck Trying” sets the stage with an electrifying blend of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll. Paul Gilbert ignites the track with his captivating riffs, meshing effortlessly with Billy Sheehan’s complex bass lines. Add Eric Martin’s robust vocals, and you have a dynamic introduction that hints at the fiery energy coursing through the rest of the album. This track is a powerful assertion of the band’s resilience and dedication to their craft.

Following this brilliant opening, “I Am You” shifts gears to a more pop-rock vibe, showcasing Mr. Big’s versatility. The simplistic charm of the chordal riffs and D’Virgilio’s adept drumming makes this an absolute earworm, accompanied by harmonized vocals that lend it an infectious melody.

Transitioning into “Right Outta Here”, the band takes a fascinating detour into exotic scales with its Middle Eastern-influenced riffs. Gilbert and Sheehan create a mesmerizing dance of guitar and bass, building an atmospheric intensity that perfectly frames Martin’s stellar vocal performance. This track stands as a testament to the band’s ability to explore new sonic landscapes while staying true to their rock roots.

“Sunday Morning Kinda Girl” is yet another standout, melding the familiar with refreshing innovation. While the opening riff may strike as familiar, the ensuing combination of solid-gold melody, rock swagger, and a pop-tinged chorus is where this track shines. Martin’s vocal performance, harmonized beautifully with backing vocals, adds a layer of sophistication that’s nothing short of enchanting.

One of the more poignant moments on the album arrives with “Who We Are”. This ballad is reflective and bare but steeped in emotional resonance. The restrained instrumentation allows Martin’s vocal nuances to shine, complemented by Gilbert’s beautifully structured solo. It’s a touch of classic Mr. Big balladry, evoking a sense of introspective grandeur.

Midway through, we encounter “As Good As It Gets”, displaying Gilbert’s exceptional guitar work despite a somewhat raw production quality in the verses. The song’s fluid transitions and D’Virgilio’s dynamic drumming marry impeccably, proving why this lineup works so well. Sheehan’s bass outro is particularly memorable, adding a distinctive layer to an already rich track.

The album’s bluesy heart beats strongest in “What Were You Thinking”, with its irresistible 70s rock groove. Despite not being the album’s most melodically robust offering, it is buoyed by the band’s instrumental prowess and a palpable charm that only seasoned performers can convey.

“Courageous” offers an invigorating yet somewhat understated presence, characterized by a chunky guitar tone and Sheehan’s ever-impressive bass lines. A bit of a sleeper track, its subtle brilliance lies in its arrangement and gradual build-up, making it a solid mid-album offering.

A burst of energetic fun comes with “Up On You”, akin to a jam session with the Rolling Stones. The song’s groovy undertones and flawless vocal harmonies make it an infectious listen, displaying Mr. Big’s flair for blending carefree rock rhythms with technical skill.

“The Frame” rounds out the core album with an acoustic elegance that is pure magic. Its beautifully written lyrics and emphasis on melody create a soul-soothing listening experience. This track, coupled with its clean production and Martin’s warm vocals, delivers a sentimental yet powerful conclusion.

Finally, the bonus track “8 Days On The Road” brings us full circle, adding an extra layer of depth and nostalgia. This cover of Foghat’s classic encapsulates the journey of Mr. Big with aplomb, merging their hard rock ethos with a testament to their enduring legacy and ability to reinterpret classic rock through their unique lens.

From start to finish, ‘Ten’ feels like a musical time capsule, capturing three decades of evolution, talent, and heart. While the album offers a high-energy tribute to their rock and blues roots, it also includes modern nuances and experimental sounds. D’Virgilio’s addition to the band not only respects the memory of Torpey but also propels Mr. Big into new creative heights.

As fans bid a bittersweet farewell to this iconic band, ‘Ten’ serves as a celebratory send-off, rich with the emotion, energy, and musicianship that has defined Mr. Big. This final album is a triumphant chapter that chronicles their journey and serves as a loving ode to their fans and the legacy of Pat Torpey.

In conclusion, ‘Ten’ is more than just an album; it’s a heartfelt celebration of the past, present, and future of Mr. Big. For those who have followed the band through every high and low, this album offers a perfect parting gift, showcasing everything that makes Mr. Big profoundly special.

Jorge’s rating: 11/10 (Yes, it’s that good) — Order your copy HERE

For a full list of tour dates visit HERE.

mr big album cover

TRACKLIST:
1. Good Luck Trying
2. I Am You
3. Right Outta Here
4. Sunday Morning Kinda Girl
5. Who We Are
6. As Good As It Gets
7. What Were You Thinking
8. Courageous
9. Up On You
10. The Frame
11. 8 Days On The Road (Bonus Track) 

MR. BIG:
Eric Martin: Lead Vocals, 
Paul Gilbert: Guitar & Vocals, 
Billy Sheehan: Bass & Vocals
Nick D’Virgilio: Drums 

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