What If... by Mr. Big on Apple Music

12 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

With legendary guitarist Paul Gilbert back in the group for the first time since 1996’s Hey Man, Mr. Big are ready to rock like it’s 1989 all over again. Their pre-grunge sound, dependent on the band’s incredible musicianship, fell out of fashion in the ‘90s. But now 20 years onward they sound like they’ve replanted themselves in their natural habitat. Lovers of the power ballad will surely thrill to the sound of “Stranger In My Life,” while purebred hard rockers will cherish “Undertow,” “American Beauty” and “Nobody Left to Blame.” Gilbert’s shredding, bassist Billy Sheehan’s athletic bass runs, and drummer Pat Torpey’s inventive fills come together in perfect syncopation, but it’s singer Eric Martin’s chest-thumping howl that announces the band’s dominance. These are unashamed anthems from an era when everything was supersized and built for the arena (“Still Ain’t Enough for Me”). Producer Kevin Shirley gives everything a tight, unpretentious sheen. (A producer doesn’t have to do as much when the players are of such high caliber.) The bonus track “Unforgiven” is every bit as killer as “Once Upon a Time” and other album highlights.

EDITORS’ NOTES

With legendary guitarist Paul Gilbert back in the group for the first time since 1996’s Hey Man, Mr. Big are ready to rock like it’s 1989 all over again. Their pre-grunge sound, dependent on the band’s incredible musicianship, fell out of fashion in the ‘90s. But now 20 years onward they sound like they’ve replanted themselves in their natural habitat. Lovers of the power ballad will surely thrill to the sound of “Stranger In My Life,” while purebred hard rockers will cherish “Undertow,” “American Beauty” and “Nobody Left to Blame.” Gilbert’s shredding, bassist Billy Sheehan’s athletic bass runs, and drummer Pat Torpey’s inventive fills come together in perfect syncopation, but it’s singer Eric Martin’s chest-thumping howl that announces the band’s dominance. These are unashamed anthems from an era when everything was supersized and built for the arena (“Still Ain’t Enough for Me”). Producer Kevin Shirley gives everything a tight, unpretentious sheen. (A producer doesn’t have to do as much when the players are of such high caliber.) The bonus track “Unforgiven” is every bit as killer as “Once Upon a Time” and other album highlights.

TITLE TIME
4:48
3:44
4:25
4:19
3:04
4:02
3:54
5:12
4:39
3:51
4:34
4:15

About Mr. Big

Mr. Big were one of the few "shredder" pop metal bands (translation: the bandmembers were highly proficient at their instruments) that prized songcraft as highly as virtuosity. The seeds for the group's formation were sown when bass player extraordinaire Billy Sheehan, often called "the Eddie Van Halen of bass," left David Lee Roth's solo band in 1988. Shortly thereafter, he began piecing together a new outfit comprised of former Racer X guitarist Paul Gilbert, drummer Pat Torpey, and singer Eric Martin, the latter of whom had issued a pair of obscure solo releases in the mid-'80s. By 1989, the newly formed quartet had already inked a recording contract with Atlantic, resulting in the release of a self-titled debut the same year. Despite finding a warm reception among musicians, the album failed to cross over to a mainstream rock audience in America; however, Mr. Big was an immediate success overseas in Japan.

The quartet broadened its horizons on its sophomore effort, 1991's Lean into It, which included the melodic psychedelic rocker "Green Tinted Sixties Mind" as well as a pair of ballads that would become sizable singles: the number one smash "To Be with You" and the Top 20 hit "Just Take My Heart." Despite issuing further releases like 1993's Bump Ahead and 1996's Hey Man, Mr. Big were unable to sustain such commercial success at home, although the group's popularity continued to soar in Japan (resulting in countless sold-out tours and such Japan-only live albums as Raw Like Sushi, Raw Like Sushi 2, Japandemonium, Mr. Big in Japan, etc.). Gilbert split from the group in the late '90s to pursue a solo career and was replaced by former Poison guitarist Richie Kotzen. The new lineup issued a pair of studio recordings, Get Over It and Actual Size, before launching a "farewell tour" in Japan, which culminated in their amicable breakup in 2002.

In early 2009, with the 20th anniversary of Mr. Big's debut on the horizon, the original lineup appeared on Japanese radio to announce that the group would be reuniting. A reunion tour was launched later that year, resulting in the release of 2009's double-disc concert album Back to Budokan, and the band headed home in September 2010 to record a new studio album in Los Angeles. The resulting What If was released three months later in Japan, followed by an American release in early 2011. The Pat Regan-produced ...The Stories We Could Tell was released in 2014, and in 2017 Mr. Big issued Defying Gravity, their third release since reuniting in 2010 and ninth studio long-player overall. ~ Greg Prato

  • FORMED
    1988

Top Songs

Top Albums

Top Music Videos

Listeners Also Played