By 1993, the music landscaped had completely changed for the 80’s glam metal scene. Gone were the bands I’d had grown up loving and replaced by Grunge, but that didn’t stop bands from putting out albums. In fact, for one band, Winger, it might have produced its best album to date. Beavis and Butthead might have made Winger a laughing stock, but us diehard fans, didn’t take stock in that farce. No, we continued to follow the band’s music and if we hadn’t we might’ve missed out on the band’s heaviest and most daring album.
The band was down to three members with Kip Winger, Rob Morgenstein and Reb Beach as keyboardist Paul Taylor had left the band. He wasn’t the only one to leave as producer Beau Hill was out as well. In his stead were Kip Winger himself along with the help of Mike Shipley who had recently worked on Def Leppard’s Adrenalize album. Released on May 18, 1993, ‘Pull” showcased a very mature Winger and a band that wasn’t going to be stopped creating and putting out their best material (even though this was their last album for years to follow).
The opening track, “Blind Revolution Mad”, starts off with an acoustic guitar with a very dark overtone. Kip was singing in richer, deeper tone that came across as eerie and meaner. The song keeps building slowly with each line and you feel an intensity that is about to be unleashed. The first chorus is ready to explode and the song goes full on gangbusters. It is bombastic, energizing and electric. The guitar riffs are shocking, the drums are destructive and when Kip lets loose, his energy is set forth upon the world. A brutal and glorious song.
We are now on to the 2nd single from the group of 6 I purchased a few weeks back. The first was Winger’s debut single for “Madalaine”. This time around we have the fourth and final single from the debut album. The single is for the song “Hungry” which was released in September 1989 a year or so after the albums release. The song didn’t do a well as their other songs only reaching #35 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Chart, but it did break the Billboard Top 100 reaching #85.
The song was written by Kip Winger and Reb Beach and seems to be about craving to be with the woman he loves. When he’s apart it makes him want her even more. He can’t eat, sleep and all he thinks about is being with her. Not at all creepy. The single I have is the standard U.S. release with the B-Side as “Time To Surrender” also from the debut album. Both songs are the album version and have not been edited.
I have been out to some stores and found 6 great picture sleeve singles and all from only 2 bands. First up is Beavis & Butthead’s favorite band to hate, Winger. The song is for the debut single from their debut album. The song is “Madalaine” from their self-titled album Winger. The single was released in May of 1988 a few months prior to the release of the album. The song went to #27 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart and was actually ignored by MTV which is a shocker. It wasn’t until their next single “Seventeen” did the band break on MTV.
The song was written by Kip Winger, Reb Beach and producer Beau Hill. They took a bunch of riffs that Reb had laying around since he was a kid and Kip helped piece them together to make the song. It is obviously about a woman who is just to tough to tame as she is too wild. Originally it was written with a slower tempo and meant to be more ballady, but Beau Hill had the idea of speeding it up and well, he was right. It works really well that way.
My copy says the B-Side is the song “Higher & Higher” which was only available on the CD version of the release. However, my copy is not the public released single. Nope. It is a promo of the song “Madalaine” and that is the song on both sides. The jacket used was the standard single jacket, but the 7″ Vinyl label was printed as promotional copy. My version has the person it was sent to stamped on both sides (or it was the stamp of someone that collected it). Not sure why it is stamped on both sides because you really only need to stamp it once to mark it as yours.
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…