Mr. Big: Eric Martin (vocals); Paul Gilbert (guitar); Billy Sheehan (bass); Pat Torpey (drums).
Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California.
It's too bad that Nevermind had to make this sort of rock unfashionable in the early '90s. Anchored by the world-class chops of guitarist Paul Gilbert and bassist Billy Sheehan, Mr. Big's debut album is an adrenaline-fueled dose of pure rock & roll attitude. Don't let the big hair and leather pants fool you; much like Bon Jovi, Mr. Big is definitely not in the same category as '80s pop-metal bands such as Poison. One difference is the fact that Mr. Big is composed of monstrously talented musicians. Witness, for example, the ascending guitar/bass figure in the beginning of "Addicted to that Rush" or the unison hits and strong groove to "Wind Me Up" or "Merciless." Eric Martin's sophomoric lyrics are admittedly the weakest link here ("Zip the lipstick on/Like BBQ sauce"), which often distract from his fine gritty voice, which is somewhere in between Steven Tyler and Steve Perry. The songwriting is also very strong, with the ballads "Had Enough" and "Big Love" especially showing the depth of Mr. Big's skill. At the same time, when they want to lay it down, they lay it down. The aforementioned "Addicted to that Rush" is both passionate and expertly delivered, with the band's technique and sheer drive complementing each other perfectly. Mr. Big was to equal the successes of their debut on their subsequent albums, but they were never again able to sustain that same level of quality over the course of an entire record. ~ Daniel Gioffre