by John Jeffrey
When I first saw Great White live with Terry Illous singing for them last year, I knew that even a Jack Russell at 100% would have a difficult time getting his gig back. His spot on voice, combined with his youthful energy and great stage presence is surely infectious. However, the ultimate test would be Great White making a new record with Illous at the helm. So when it was announced Great White was releasing a new record without Jack Russell, I wasn't surprised in the least.
To compare 2012's "Elation" with their classic material from the 80's would be completely unfair, so I decided to A/B "Elation" with the group's last CD with Jack Russell (2009's "Rising," which is their last release, period). "Elation" actually transcends well from the previous "Rising" CD, as both records feature a very dry production, which is a huge polar opposite from the high gloss execution found on such records like, "Once Bitten..." I don't feel the 'bare bones' approach suits them well, as I always considered Great White to be one of the premiere 'arena rock' sounding bands, almost a glammy version of Led Zeppelin.
Production aside, the songs just aren't there on "Elation." While they definitely beefed up the 'rock' factor from their previous release ("Rising" has a lot of mellow songs and ballads), most of the songs are straight up, BORING. Just kind of mid tempo, dry sounding blues/rock type songs that don't sound anything like Great White. The songs that do sound (almost) like 'Great White' (which to be fair, there are about 4 decent tunes on the CD, one of them being the 'bonus track,' "Lowdown"), feature Illous completely biting the style and swagger of former vocalist, Jack Russell. This I find rather sad, as I feel the group now lacks identity, and has no chance of moving forward as a 'new' Great White with Terry Illous as their singer.
The current lineup can easily continue their nostalgia tours, as they still do the classic material justice. However, I don't expect much "Elation" from the diehard GW fans to the band's current direction.
by John Jeffrey