by Derric Miller
– Managing Editor —
Everyone loves a story of redemption, of comebacks, of someone on the verge of losing it all (in this case, Jack almost lost his life) and then against all odds, like a phoenix from the ashes, rises from the rubble and takes back what was rightfully theirs. In short, that’s what Jack Russell’s Great White’s new studio album He Saw It Comin’ is really all about.
If you’ve followed Jack through the ages, you know this multi-platinum rockstar had his ups and downs, from arguably owning the best vocal chords in the ’80s to nearly dying in a hospital bed from drug and alcohol abuse after his then-band Great White left him to wither away, alone. (If you want some Hardrock Haven editorial insight into this story, read here: http://hardrockhaven.net/online/2012/03/great-white-vs-jack-russell). All that he’s overcome to become THAT singer again, that songwriter, that rocker and so much more is the tale He Saw It Comin’ tells.
The album opens with a track “Sign of the Times” that easily fits on a release like Hooked, a classic Great White track that dissects the current human condition as people who love their cell phones and i-Whatevers more than they do human interaction. The track is smooth, it glides, and Jack sounds stellar. For all of the “feel-good” nuances of his comeback, if Jack couldn’t sing like he used to, none of this would really matter as much to the fans. Thankfully, Jack IS back, in every way, shape and form. The dude has pipes …
If you liked “Mista Bone,” that super-sexual song off of Twice Shy, then you’ll dig “She Moves Me.” It’s a slinky, stripper-dance anthem that owns a fun groove and makes you want to shimmy. After this though, the darkness is coming.
“My Addiction” is a warped “love” song to what addiction has meant to Jack. “I can’t stop although it’s killing me, my addiction’s got me on my knees.” Yeah … for anyone who’s wrestled with drugs and alcohol, the lyrics spell out the omnipresent haunting of jonesing for that next high. It’s Jack tearing back his own flesh and daring you to take a peak inside his soul. Robbie Lochner’s guitar solo is a searing, chaotic accompaniment to that panicked, chasing-the-dragon lust.
Great White has been known for their ballads, with “Save Your Love” leading the charge, but so many others, like “The Angel Song,” “Afterglow,” “How Far is Heaven,” “Is Anybody There,” the anti-balled “Love is a Lie,” and so many more. Add “Anything For You” to that list and put it at A-1 with “Save Your Love.” When recording it, Jack’s voice was a bit worn down, and Lochner thought that’d make the song more real and emotional; Jack admits he was in tears when singing it. (Listen to the Hardrock Haven interview with Jack about the new album to hear the whole story: http://hardrockhaven.net/online/2017/01/audio-interview-jack-russell-of-jack-russells-great-white/) It’s a bare-bones ballad to his wife, with lyrics that chill, like, “What would you do, if we had no more tomorrows? What would you say, as the last thing, before I pass away?” True love might not exist for the bulk of mankind, but if you want to hear what it sounds like, Jack recorded it for you here.
The title track goes back to a lighter side of the album, with Lochner’s kids playing out a “rock star” fantasy on drums and guitar as the crowd screams for them before the real song kicks in. This owns a huge Queen vibe throughout, both vocally and musically; there’s just a lot of pageantry to soak in. It’s not a straight forward rocker, and it may be the best on the album. This is Jack pounding his chest and saying, “I’m not done yet!”
One of the most goofy-cool songs is “Spy vs Spy,” an homage to Mad Magazine and their comic series of the same name. It’s a blazing track, and Lochner’s deft opening solo turns into a chunky riff that will make you look for 11 on the volume knob.
What’s a Great White album without a doo-wop song, right? Never fear, there’s one here in “Godspeed.” All jokes aside, this song highlights how “great” the guys harmonize with each other. It’s a capella, it’s a riot, and while Jack’s voice out front is just further proof he’s back in every way, you’ll have to be impressed with the backing vocals.
He Saw It Comin’ is not like a number of releases from bands who made it in the ’80s and are still making music today. Those bands live off of their hits, but bring nothing new (or palatable) to the table. He Saw It Comin’ is really Jack Russell as the voice of Great White somehow capturing the essence of the classic sound yet bringing it all into the now with new music that will also stand the test of time. It’s pure, it’s heartbreakingly honest, but above all else, it’s just really damn good.
Genre: Hard Rock
Jack Russell: Vocals
Robby Lochner: Guitars
Tony Montana: Guitar and Keyboards
Dan McNay: Bass
Dicki Fliszar: Drums
1. Sign of the Times
2. She Moves Me
4. Love Don’t Live Here
5. My Addiction
6. Anything for You
7. He Saw it Coming
8. Don’t Let me Go
9. Spy vs Spy
10. Blame it on the Night
Label: Frontiers Records
Hardrock Haven rating: (9.4 / 10)