A former member of Alice
Cooper's band, bassist Kip Winger formed his own group in 1986; in addition
to vocalist/bassist Winger, the group featured guitarist Reb Beach, bassist
Paul Taylor, and drummer Rod Morgenstein, formerly of the Dixie Dregs.
Winger (Atlantic) 1988
2. "Hungry" (3:58)
3. "Seventeen" (4:05)
4. "Without the Night" (5:04)
5. "Purple Haze" (3:39)
6. "State of Emergency" (3:37)
7. "Time to Surrender" (4:10)
8. "Poison Angel" (3:24)
9. "Hangin' On" (3:35)
10. "Headed for a Heartbreak" (5:13)
11. "Higher and Higher" (3:18)
Debut album, Winger, was
released in 1988 on Atlantic Records, and soared past the platinum mark in the
U.S. and went gold in Japan and Canada, establishing Winger as one of the hottest
new bands on the pop scene. Radio and MTV hits include "Madalaine", "Seventeen",
"Headed For A Heartbreak" and "Hungry". Shoot, there wasn't a teen magazine
printed in '88 that didn't have Kip Winger on the cover. Of course, no respectable
metalhead could ever admit to liking this pop metal drivel, right? I know I
never did. Truth be known, I never gave it a listen other than the radio hits
which were forced upon me in the summer of '88. Fact is, despite the "girly
metal" look; big hair, hairy chests, etc., Winger featured four stellar
musicians in Kip Winger, Reb Beach, Paul Taylor and Rod Morgenstein. (Reb Beach
went on to replace George Lynch in Dokken.)
While there is no doubt that Winger's debut is slick radio rock, over produced
by Ratt producer Beau Hill, it's really
not that bad. As a matter of fact, removed from the hype and image, it's really
rather enjoyable. The cover of Jimi
Hendrix's "Purple Haze" was amusing, albeit unnecessary as it
is a bit to clean. Otherwise, a good melodic, hard rock disc that I quite enjoy.
I found myself tapping along on the very first listen. Oh wait, did I just admit
that? I mean, this CD sucks! Winger are posers!
Winger - In the Heart of the Young (Atlantic) 1990
1. "Can't Get Enuff"
2. "Loosen Up" (3:29)
3. "Miles Away" (4:12)
4. "Easy Come Easy Go" (4:04)
5. "Rainbow in the Rose" (5:33)
6. "In the Day We'll Never See" (4:51)
7. "Under One Condition" (4:27)
8. "Little Dirty Blonde" (3:32)
9. "Baptized by Fire" (4:11)
10. "You Are the Saint, I am the Sinner" (3:35)
11. In the Heart of the Young" (4:38)
Winger's sophmore CD, "In
the Heart of the Young", continues in the same slick, progressive-tinged,
radio-ready pop-metal vein. As with the debut album, the songwriting and guitars
still twist and turn in an almost progressive rock mode. However, the material
on In the "Heart of the Young" isn't as interesting as the songs on
Winger. This one just seems even more corporate sounding than "Winger"
and the inclusion of even more ballads makes it a bit hard to enjoy this CD.
"Can't Get Enuff" and "Easy Come Easy Go" are good hard rockers, but otherwise
this was an album written for girls, MTV and pop radio. Have heard "Pull"
is better than both the debut and this album. Guess I will have to keep an eye
out for that one.
Winger - Pull (Atlantic) 1993
1. "Blind Revolution Mad" (5:26)
2. "Down Incognito" (3:49)
3. "Spell I'm Under" (3:56)
4. "In My Veins" (3:14)
5. "Junkyard Dog" (6:55)
6. "The Lucky One" (5:21)
7. "In For the Kill" (4:13)
8. "No Man's Land" (3:17)
9. "Like a Ritual" (5:03)
10. "Who's the One" (5:54)
"Pull" is without a doubt
Winger's best album ever. It's less 'glammy' than their first two albums and
rocks a little harder as well. Songs such as "Blind Revolution Mad" & "Junkyard
Dog", had they been released on the first album, may have seen more of a market
with the hard rock crowd, rather than just the 1980's teenage MTV crowd. (Do
I detect a bit of rage in these two tracks? NAH!) Other standout cuts are
"Spell I'm Under" and "Who's The One", both of which are power ballads. Anyone
who doubted that these guys were ever great musicians only need to check out
Reb Beach's guitar work on this album. While it's not overtly flashy, it is
complex and quite intriguing. Unfortunately for the band 1993 was not a good
year for this sort of melodic pop-radio, hard rock. Grunge was the flavor of
the year and Atlantic swept this one under the rug. It's a shame because this
really is a solid record.
Winger – IV (Shrapnel) 2006
1. Right Up Ahead (5:06)
2. Blue Suede Shoes (3:47)
3. Four Leaf Clover (4:17)
4. M16 (3:58)
5. Your Great Escape (3:54)
6. Disappear (3:50)
7. On a Day Like Today (6:25)
8. Livin' Just to Die (3:39)
9. Short Flight to Mexico (4:19)
10. Generica (6:32)
11. Can't Take It Back (4:06)
"IV" is the reunion disc for 80’s teen heart throbs Winger. Kip Winger, Reb Beach (Whitesnake, ex-Dokken), Rod Morgenstein (ex-Dixie Dregs) are the three original members featured on this album. John Roth, who played on the "Pull" tour replaces guitarist Paul Taylor. The line-up is rounded out by keyboardist Cenk Eroglu. Winger have moved far, far ways from the “She’s Only Seventeen” light-hearted, hairspray, radio pop of their debut. "IV" is a far more serious hard rock album without the obvious and simple hooks. It is a record with many hard rock elements, not unlike "Pull", but blended with a moody emotion and just a slight modern rock touch. I even hear some progressive rock elements thrown into the mix.
Kip Winger’s vocals have taken on a passionate, yet far more pessimistic approach. This may be due to the lyrical direction this album takes, which on the surface seems to be a condemning view of the war, and particularly the recent events in the Middle East. However, I do confess I didn’t spend a ton of time with the lyrics.
Some highlight tracks are the uptempo "Disappear", which is hampered only by a bit too much keyboards, and album closer "Can't Take It Back". I also enjoyed "Generica" which is basically a studio jam.
Winger - Karma (Frontiers) 2009
1. Deal With the Devil (3:00)
2. Stone Cold Killer (2:45)
3. Big World Away (3:51)
4. Come a Little Closer (2:50)
5. Pull Me Under (3:21)
6. Supernova (6:18)
7. Always Within Me (4:15)
8. Feeding Frenzy (3:01)
9. After All This Time (6:23)
10. Witness (7:15)
11. First Ending [instrumental] (2:05)
If "IV" was a bit too modern for most Winger fans, "Karma" should pull them back into the fold. "Karma", while having a very modern production, is just straight-forward, guitar-driven, hard rock. If I had to compare this album to past Winger albums I'd say that "Karma" is more in the style of "Pull", though somewhat heavier, though still melodic and catchy. One thing is for certain, "Karma" is certainly no pop rock album and this album wasn't written with sugary-sweet-pop-radio hits in mind.
The album is front-loaded with heavy rockers. "Deal with the Devil" is a rock and roll anthem that is sure to please the anti-rock fanatics out there. The song is about living the rock and roll dream and selling one's soul to the devil. The song is sung with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but some people will surely not get that irony. I was surprised when I heard the first few moments of this song as Kip Winger's voice immediately reminded me of David Coverdale. "Stone Cold Killer" is a short, up-beat rocker, while "Big World Away" is a hard rocker with a more modern rock touch. Once again, Kip's vocals reminding me of Whitesnake frontman. The heavy rock continues right up until "Supernova". This song is a bit more melodic and AOR in nature than the others. All the o"After All This Time" is a blues song that really hit a chord with me. The song, which is about still being in love after many years together, struck home with this sappy, long-time married guy. Each song features some stunning axe-work from veteran axe-grinder Reb Beach. Karma closes with the seven-minute long "Witness" is a seven-minute long, amazing power ballad with emphasis on power. The album closes with a short piano instrumental called "First Ending". Overall, "Karma" is a surprising CD. It combines the hooks of early Winger, with the darker songwriting of "Pull" and wraps it all together with brilliant guitar tones and a solid production.
With "Karma", Winger prove once again that they are far better musicians and songwriters than most people give them credit for. There's far more to them than just "Seventeen" and "Headed For A Heartbreak".