Winger – IV (2006, Froniters/Shrapnel)
- Right Up Ahead
- Blue Suede Shoes
- Four Leaf Clover
- Your Great Escape
- On A Day Like Today
- Livin’ Just To Die
- Short Flight To Mexico
- Can’t Take It Back
Kip Winger – Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Reb Beach – Guitars, Vocals
Rod Morgenstein – Drums
John Roth – Guitars, Vocals
Cenk Eroglu – Keyboards, Guitars
Total Time – 49:57
Winger was a band I got into when I was in high school. It wasn’t called “hair metal” at the time but that was the kind of music that was prominent in my circle of friends back in the day. For all the backlash the band has received from the Beavis & Butthead generation, pound for pound Winger could hold their own with any of their contemporaries in the late ’80s. Big guitars, big hooks, harmonies, melody…..they defined the sound. Sure the band was considered bubblegum for the serious Metalhead but the music was fun, that’s what it was all about. I freely admit to liking all three Winger albums, especially PULL (1993), usually that admission is shunned. That said, I was really looking forward to hearing what WINGER IV had to offer longtime fans. Kip Winger’s solo career hasn’t grabbed hold of me like the early Winger records did. I did see him open up for someone in the last few years (Poison maybe?) and he came out and did a short acoustic set that was pretty damn good. Add Reb Beach and Rod Morgenstein and there was serious hope for a good Rock record.
The opening song, ‘Right Up Ahead’ is a slow, melodic track that starts of with the acoustic guitar and heads into a heavy riff. It has the elements of classic Winger, especially in the harmonies, and it is a good song. It’s not what I would have picked for an album opener, I would have gone with something faster/catchier. ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ follows and is another slow track, more of a ballad. It’s got that haunting feel with the enhancements on Kip’s vocal and the underlying acoustic guitar. I have tried to like this song because I like the music but the lyrics and the title distract me.
If you can get through the first two songs, ‘Four Leaf Clover’ is a welcomed uptempo number but it sounds more like Kip Winger solo rather than Winger. By this time I’ve noticed that Kip’s voice may have lost that high upper register he used to have or that he just isn’t using it. This sounds like something I would hear from a young band today and played to death on radio. It’s actually kind of boring but it gets a pass because it’s uptempo. Boring is ‘M16′, another slower song. Kip uses some of that high voice come harmony time and the guitars have some bite but it sounds like it’s already been done and we are only on Song #4. ‘Your Great Escape’ is the song I would have used as the album opener. It’s a faster number that compares to the Winger of old while keeping up with current trends. The vocal isn’t the best but the guitar, especially the solo, is really good. This is my favorite song on the album.
I really like the bass line on ‘Disappear’, I find myself nodding along and doing some air bass. Another mid-tempo, dark, melodic brooder with killer axework. Nothing like a six minute plus song to kill the mood…..that’s what ‘On A Day Like Today’ does. It’s not a bad song, it’s just slower and boring. It sounds like I’ve already heard it four or five songs ago. Redemption comes with the harder ‘Living Just To Die’, which shows that there is some life left in the band to Rock out. The trend continues with ‘Short Flight To Mexico’, another heavy track that is buried behind all the slow plodders. I would have put this more toward the beginning of the album’s sequence.
Another six minute plus song in ‘Generica’…..when will the madness end? This song just doesn’t cut it for me. Neither does ‘Can’t Take It Back’. Both songs have some good parts but they are a part of the “slow or mid-tempo” theme of the record. Both sound like previous songs on the album.
I went into this album not expecting the old late ’80s sound but hoping it would be there. There are elements of it sprinkled throughout but it’s more a dark, melodic, modern Rock record. I would have preferred a few more upbeat songs instead of all the slow ones. The album is hard to get through, I found I was losing interest easily and I had to go back and force myself to re-listen to songs that didn’t really grab me. I gave this album a lot of airtime on the stereo hoping that it was a grower but it just left me bored. I won’t be reaching for this again anytime soon.