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Great White - Jack Russell’s: Once Bitten - Acoustic Bytes

The Once Bitten album holds a strange place in my musical journey; the 1987 record from Great White actually being something of a compilation-introduction to the band here in the UK. My own first fancy with these sharks had come with the “Face The Day” 7” single and so smitten was I that when I then saw Once Bitten in the record racks it was a no-brainer immediate purchase. Now even then I knew that “Face The Day” was an older track but along with a cover of “Gimme Some Lovin’” and a live take on “What Do You Do” it appeared on side two of the album in the guise of a ‘US Radio Blues Version’. Confused? I certainly was but then the other track on that side of the vinyl was “Fast Road”, which along with the four cuts on side one were, as I subsequently found out, all to be found - along with another four new songs not featured in the UK - on the all-new US version of Once Bitten. Whoever thought that doing a cut n’ shut on Great White’s best ever album for the UK market was in the band’s best interests I’m not sure but for me the hunt for the real version was on and a 120 mile round trip to Glasgow tracked down the long-box US CD import… and then… well… WOW! What an album. Combining American commerciality to a UK based (but US born) blues sound, some tastefully expansive guitar playing and rich, lived in vocals, each of the nine tracks were nearly as good as could be.

Fast forward some 33(!!) years and a lot of water has flowed under this particular Great White but most importantly is that the band continue on with Mitch Malloy as their singer, while the voice most synonymous with the name is now operating as Jack Russell’s Great White. The latter debuted with an EP in 2014 and then released the He Saw It Comin’ album to decidedly mixed reviews. Hence the announcement that Jack and his comrades, including previous Great White bassist (turned guitarist here) Tony Cardenas-Montana, were to re-record the Once Bitten album could be seen as both a safe and dangerous move. However, as the title suggests, doing so in acoustic mode is maybe the wisest choice of all here. That way comparisons are, to some extent, neatly avoided both in vocal delivery and the song structures - which in fairness haven’t been played around with all that much.

Credit to the main man, while moving into a less bluesy drawl, his voice is in maybe unexpectedly fine fettle. Yes, he’s singing in a cleaner style that at times reminds (without the bombast) of Micheal Eden (ex-Eden’s Curse), but hearing him work his way through the cleverly energetic “Lady Redlight” allays any fears. Montana and lead guitarist Robby Lochner stay respectful as they acousticafy the previously hard hitting “Gonna Getcha” and “Rock Me” while still adding new elements to savour. Bassist Dan McNay and drummer Dicki Filszar, thankfully, haven’t been neutered as they drive on “All Over Now” and “Fast Road” but arguably it’s “Save Your Love” that was always going to be best suited to this style and that proves the case, with this impassioned performance being everything I’d hoped for.

The album closes out with an acoustic/electric bonus cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Babe (I’m Gonna Leave You)”, where Jack re-finds his gruffness and as ever from a band ‘sporting’ the Great White name, the classic outfit that clearly inspired them into being are handled with a true respect and understanding.

I won’t lie (and the recent reviews video myself and Peter did on our YouTube channel confirms it), I had real reservations about this album but credit to the much maligned Jack Russell and his version of Great White. They’ve done some material that is close to my heart proud and still found a way to just about make it their own. Class me surprised, impressed and relieved.

Track Listing
1. Lady Redlight
2. Gonna Getcha
3. Rock Me
4. All Over Now
5. Mistreater
6. Never Change Heart
7. Fast Road
8. Livin’ On The Edge
9. Save Your Love
10. Babe (I’m Gonna Leave You)

Added: June 11th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Acoustic Bytes at Cleopatra Records
Hits: 903
Language: english

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