Winger is a band from the late 80’s and came in at the tail end of the hair metal movement. They saw much ridicule from Beavis & Butthead and I have to admit it was pretty funny. However, this band might have been poked fun on due to the cheesiness of their debut album (come on you know it was, but it was good too); the band was actually very, very talented. These guys…Kip Winger, Rob Morgenstein, Reb Beach & Paul Taylor were not hacks (and now John Roth). They were trained and talented musicians who chose to follow the crowd on their first album until they started really finding who they were as a band.
They were together from 1987 to 1994 and then took a break, a hiatus or whatever you want to call it. They each went their separate ways and joined other bands or did solo albums or did whatever the hell they wanted. The got back together briefly in 2001-2003, but didn’t release any albums. Then in 2006, they came back on the scene and have released 3 more albums for a grand total of only 6 albums. Those six are what we will rank here in the post.
The title of the list is Worst to First and for this band that is misleading because nothing is really bad. In fact, I like all of their albums, i just like some more than others. I would still recommend them to anyone. I will shut up now and get to the list. I hope you enjoy….
THE WORST – ‘Winger IV’ (2006):
Like I said above, THE WORST is actually pretty darn good so it is a little misleading. This album was their comeback album after a 13 year hiatus between albums. It is quite a departure from their first three albums from the 80’s & 90’s as it is a very modern rock album. There were some great songs including “M16”, “Four Leaf Clover” and “Blue Suede Shoes”.
Musicianship wise, it was spot on and there is no arguing their talent. The reason it is my least favorite of the bunch is the songs themselves. They lacked memorable choruses and were missing some sort of hook to capture my attention. For me that was the only thing lacking from the album. I still listen to it on occasion, but not as much as the others.
#5 – ‘Better Days Comin” (2014):
The band’s most recent release is “Better Days Comin'” and a step up from “IV”, but has a lot of the flaws of that release with a lot of the songs missing that hook; that thing to grab you and pull you in deep. I said a lot of the songs, but not all. There was one song in particular I think is awesome and that is “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine”. It truly rocks and couldn’t be a better way to kick off the album.
That wasn’t the only song worth having. You have the title track as well as “Rat Race” that will keep your attention. The overall album is a little uneven, but still got it. I like it also because it is both modern with a little throwback at times to earlier stuff. Definitely worth a listen.
#4 – ‘Winger’ (1988):
The debut album that put Kip and the boys on the map. Slap dab in the middle of the hair band era, Winger played the game like all the others and focused on looks over substance…at least on this one. If you think I am being mean, I am not. Songs like “Seventeen” and “Headed for a Heartbreak” are typical of the genre and that isn’t all bad. How 80’s was it, well Beau Hill was the producer and that should tell you all you need to know.
The album itself is hit or miss as the singles were great, but the album had a lot of filler and I did not like the cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”. This is only at #4 for its nostalgia than anything else. The sad thing is that the cheesy songs masked the fact that these guys are some of the most talented from that era.
#3 – ‘Karma’ (2009):
‘Karma’ is by far the best of the second half of Winger’s career. The song is a blend of the band’s earliest albums, but mixed with a modern sound and songs that are actually intelligent and more what the band is capable to do. The songs are memorable, catchy and they have that hook that gets you moving.
Songs like “Deal with Devil”, “Stone Cold Killer’, “Pull Me Under” and “Come a Little Closer” are what keeps you playing this on repeat. Their are hints of Kip’s solo sound on a few songs and overall it is spectacular. When playing these back for this post, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this one. It has been on rotation for awhile now.
#2 – ‘Winger II’ (1990):
The sophomore slump didn’t happen with this one. They picked up where they left off, but with a significant difference than the first. They had some real songs on here and actually, I think I like all the songs. The songs like the original debut were “Can’t Get Enuff”, “Miles Away” and “Under One Condition”. They did love the ballads back then and Beau Hill was again at the helm.
Where the album shines though are the deep cuts. They finally had songs that made you think a little like “Rainbow in the Rose” and “In the Day We Will Never See”. The most bizarre song that even had Kip rapping a little was also one of the highlights for me called “Baptized By Fire”. All in all, a solid album from beginning to end.
#1 – ‘Pull’ (1993):
Yes, the best album by the band. If you disagree, I am sorry buy you are wrong…how does that feel because I am not sure (I am kidding!!!…no really how does it feel??) In a time when Hair bands were dead, thanks to the Grunge era, this album went pretty unnoticed which is sad because it is so great.
Why do I like it? Well, it was the heaviest album up to that time. It was more modern (for that time period anyway) and it was nothing like the first two. The whole album completely rocked and it made you even think at time (I tell you these guys are really smart).
The songs that really did it for me were “Blind Revolution Mad”, “Junkyard Dog”, “In for the Kill” and “In My Vein”. Then there was “Down Incognito” which might be one of my favorites if it wasn’t for “Who’s the One” which probably is my favorite. These two songs acoustic are great is well, but that is on another album (a Kip solo album).
And there you have it, the Winger albums in order of how I rank them for the worst to the best. Let me know what you think. Where did we differ and where did we agree. What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same band and that is all that matters really.
I hope you enjoyed. If you want to listen to any of them or buy them, just click below…