After eleven solo albums over 25 years, I guess White Lion/Freak of Nature frontman Mike Tramp is entitled to release a ‘best of’… it’s a double CD or LP packed with twenty songs and the good news is that there are four brand new songs for fans who already own those albums. I also like the updated sleeve notes including the revealing quote from Mike: ”I feel safe and secure knowing that I am my songs and my songs are me. They are a musical scrapbook of the life I have lived and the life I continue living. They are not about paying the rent or alimony, they are a true and confident representation of the man I am”. A bit tortuously called Trampthology it supplies twenty songs and 90 minutes of his best.
There are classics aplenty with the trademark Tramp sound that often shows his Petty preferences! Songs like ‘Give It All’, ‘Dead End Ride’, Cobblestone Street’ or ‘Lay Down My Life For You’ illustrate the consistent quality ocross the years: the new ones maintain the standard too with ‘Ain’t Done Yet’ hitting the jaunty with a country feel and, if the fade had a proper guitar and/or piano solo it would I feel have lifted it further. ‘Take Me Away’ is a belter though with a Hendrix like chord opener and neat guitar throughout as Mike goes a bit REM on the vocals but the instrumentation carries it well. ‘Every Time’ is a lighter waving ballad that he is so damn good at…heartstrings prepare to be tugged! ‘I’ll Never Be Young Again’ has a country(fish) lilt again but is immediate and has a bass line to die for. Balladic again but with added bite with the repeated guitar motifs staying in your mind.
So, if you’re a tramp fan then the new ones make it worthwhile… if you haven’t heard him yet, this anthology is a fine place to start to get to know him.