When any artist starts off in music, their vision is all about the music. Focusing on the music is the be all and end all. Then they start to gain some fans. And they like it.
They want more.
They are frustrated that they can’t reach more. But they plug away and eventually they get a record deal. They release an album and it doesn’t set the world on fire. Even back in the 80’s the music market was overrun with choices. But then bands started to have “hits”. Blame MTV.
So how do they have another hit?
In the case of Alice Cooper and Aerosmith, they realised, for their careers in the 80’s to be revitalised they had to work with songwriters of quality, like Desmond Child, Jim Vallance and Diane Warren. There was a pretty good chance that if those three songwriters were involved, the song would be a “hit”. But what happens if you turn down a chance to work with those songwriters or never even considered it. Furthermore, what happens to a band when those songwriters didn’t meet the angst coming from Seattle?
Call Seattle and Grunge what you want. What is clear is the Seattle angst was all around the world. But in 1992, it was the sounds of Seattle that brought it to the masses and into the mainstream. And to be honest, hard rock, glam rock, whatever rock you want to call it, got a bad rap, since Grunge came out, but it kept on percolating and eventually it came back.
It’s hard to follow-up success.
After “Big Game” failed in the eyes of the label (500,000 in sales was seen as a failure as “Pride” sold 2 million before), White Lion went away and spent a long time and a lot of money, building the beast that would become the “Mane Attraction” album.
By the time “Mane Attraction” came out in 1992, it was way too late in the eyes of the rock public, even though the album had some genius tracks and a few bona-fide hits.
While the label tried to sell the album with “Love Don’t Come Easy” and “Broken Heart”, they ignored the deep, insightful stuff that fleshed out the rest of the album, like “Warsong”.
“Warsong” is one of those songs that is cult like. Like “Lady of The Valley” before it. Story songs, that pull you in. And in most cases, it was the album cuts that made you a fan. The hits would draw you in, but it’s the album cuts that we bond with.
After the helicopter sounds, the double kick comes in. For 10 seconds it’s just the rolling thunder of the double kick and then Vito kicks in with a stop start riff.
I got the call one summer night
He said you’re on tomorrow’s flight
My mother cried my sister too
My father said I’m proud of you
If I have a gripe about White Lion on occasions, it’s due to the lyrics of Mike Tramp. Now, why would a person who has been in music since his teens, say that he got the call to go to war. And the way the song transitions from the I, to the WE and then to a young man who returns from war is silly. Is the song about the I (self), the WE (the populace) or a third person story about a young man returning from war. Basically, Tramp’s lyrics are all over the shop.
What are we fighting for
When the price we pay is endless war
What are we fighting for
When all we need is peace
The chorus is strong. Dave Mustaine sings “The quickest way to end a war is lose” in “Dystopia” and in a way it is true, because the actual people on the ground, don’t really want to be there.
Man that shred lead break from 2.30 is chock full of Vito’s style. I love the way it ultimately transitions at 3.09 to a ballad.
And that lead break at 3.50.
If someone tells you they are not moved by it, they are lying.
A young man returns from war
Where he didn’t know
What he was fighting for
The streets remained the same
But people’d changed
The medals on his chest
Didn¹t mean a thing
This is the part that talks about a young man coming home from war. With music like this, you need better lyrics to hammer the message home.
And then the music starts to accelerate at the four and a half-minute mark back to the rocker it was.
Warsong is one of those songs that would never have been a hit, but a classic it deserves to be.