Winger
Winger


3.5
great

Review

by SitarHero USER (33 Reviews)
March 10th, 2014 | 72 replies | 1,535 views


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Haters gonna hate. Wingers gonna wing.

7 of 8 thought this review was well written

Winger has been a cultural icon for over two decades for all the wrong reasons. The band, and its frontman, have long been held up as the poster-boys for everything that was wrong with ‘80s “hair” metal by everyone from Beavis and Butthead to Lars Ulrich. However, while Kip Winger did himself and his band no favours with his propensity for banal lyrics, early in the band’s career anyway, and literal balletic pirouettes that made their way into his stage act, few of the band’s detractors have ever been able to see through the frontman’s spectacularly coiffed face and chest to the musical muscle being flexed beneath. The music, at least on Winger’s debut album is the (un?)holy matrimony of progressive rock and pop metal, not too dissimilar from what you would expect a beefed up Toto or Kansas to sound like for the MTV generation (RIP).

To be fair, Winger’s brief flirtation with pop cultural relevance rested on the back of the rather disturbing Seventeen which finds Kip Winger serenading the (hopefully hypothetical) seventeen year old object of his affections, and the completely groove and soul-less cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze. These are the absolute low points of the album and the rest of the album is several notches above these regrettable songs. Winger does slip into cliché on several occasions over the course of the album, but more often than not finds ways to redeem even the low moments.

Most of the redemption comes on the form of the musicians themselves. Reb Beach is an unmitigated virtuoso and he never sacrifices melody for technicality though he is more than capable. Even in the saturated shredder market that was the late-‘80s, Reb Beach managed to set himself apart with his inventive melodic sensibilities and every solo on the album is a standout, except for Purple Haze of course.

Beach’s flights of fancy are ably supported by the rhythm section of drummer Rod Morgenstein (also of the Dixie Dregs), guitarist/keyboardist Paul Taylor, and Kip Winger himself on bass. The interesting thing about them is that while each musician is individually extremely capable, they all rein in their shredding impulses to serve the song and they do it well. Winger’s bass work is minimalistic and pulsing and plays the most constant supporting rhythmic role. Morgenstein’s work is extremely understated but he still finds ways to shine in completely unobtrusive ways. Taylor’s keyboard work is often what ties the songs together and provides some of the prettiest melodic counterpoints on the album.

The end result is that if you removed the vocals and lyrics from the mix, the album shines as a muscular combination of hard and progressive rock. While the first half of the album consists of most of the bands singles and radio-ready material the deeper one gets into the album the more the band stretches out and impresses. The best combination of the band’s colliding aesthetics is the effervescent Heading for a Heartbreak which combines insanely catchy vocal lines with undeniable musical progressiveness. However, the lead up to the song, consisting of Seventeen(yes, despite the lyrics), Without the Night, State of Emergency, and Hangin’ On are occasionally saccharine in parts, but manage to consistently sustain interest.

What made and broke Winger was Kip Winger. His singing here is often typical hair metal fare, but while Kip Winger only very occasionally breaks out of the David Lee Roth/Joe Elliot mold, he is arguably the best singer to come out of the hair metal scene. The hooks might not be original, but they’re still catchy and performed with terrific conviction and impressive range and tonality. In addition, his gift for composition will often outshine his habit for vocal cliché, if you let it.

Ultimately, Winger is hair metal for musicians. It’s compositionally excellent and performed admirably, but it’s also a relic of its time. Still, as far as ‘80s albums go there are few better than this one.



Recent reviews by this author
Big Wreck GhostsSolar Soma So Much For Style
Karnivool AsymmetryBuckingham Nicks Buckingham Nicks
Etched In Red DylateHeretic (IND) Words to Epilogues
user ratings (58)
Chart.
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
SitarHero
March 10th 2014



4605 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Breaking my almost year-long hiatus from reviewing for Winger. Totally worth it.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2014



20019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good album, fuck the haters.

PunchforPunch
March 10th 2014



5923 Comments


fuck the haters [2] seventeen forever

zakalwe
March 10th 2014



6714 Comments


Haters gonna hate and they'd be right when hating on this bilge.

Digging: Bob Mould - Beauty & Ruin

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2014



20019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

One day I will convert you Zak and you will love 80's hard rock/hair metal as much as I do.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2014



9724 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Great album and a really nice review. Good work :D

dannyboy89
March 10th 2014



11912 Comments


Awesome review SH, pos'd hard.

SitarHero
March 10th 2014



4605 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks guys! It's a shame the band didn't start writing decent lyrics until their 4th album.

manosg
March 10th 2014



5745 Comments


I'm sure I've heard something by these guys but can't remember what. Anyway, great review Sitar, I think this is only your second review I've read for some reason. pos.

InbredJed
March 10th 2014



5618 Comments


Great review, but still... why the fac would anyone listen to this when there's so much music our there?

zakalwe
March 10th 2014



6714 Comments


lol. Not a chance JT dude your cult leadership like influence will never sway me from the fact hair metal is the antithesis of what good rock n roll is all about.

Quality review by the way Sitar.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2014



20019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I always thought "good rock n roll" was about having fun which is pretty much what hair metal was all about.

zakalwe
March 10th 2014



6714 Comments


Nah bro it's about harnessing and channeling the "fire" and throwing it in the face of the man. Not bowing to the man all the while sporting a poodle perm hair do.

SitarHero
March 10th 2014



4605 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Zak! And I'll tell you guys why GOOD Hair Metal is the pinnacle of rock n roll and why Winger is worth listening to.

I grew up in India. We didn't have MTV until the early '90s. Before that, the only rock music we had was occasional Beatles and Pink Floyd vinyls and cassettes that you picked up when you travelled abroad. Then suddenly, thanks to the privatization of India's economy, we had MTV and english radio and widely available music cassettes and CDs and we were catching up with essentially 40 years of rock music history overnight. Zeppelin, Van Halen, Guns N Roses, Poison, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden all played next to each other. We didn't know they were different. All we knew is that they were long-haired dudes with guitars who made us feel good. And the Hair Metal dudes made us feel better.

As I was entering my teenage years I didn't have much angst. All I cared about was sports (i.e. cricket and, later, basketball), Star Wars (yes, I was a jock AND a nerd. All things were possible in 1990s India), and girls. I didn't hate my parents. I didn't hate my life. I just wanted to party. And Hair Metal was the best music around to party to, because the alternative was Aqua and the Boybands. It was dumb loud music about dumb exaggerated emotions that spoke to dumb adolescents going through hormonal changes.

But why, you ask, is any of this relevant? Because Rock n Roll is a celebration of youth. It's about saying, "fuck the world, we're young and we don't care about tomorrow because we're living in the present". It's about falling in love and getting your heart broken and then falling in love again. It's about making questionable fashion choices to impress members of the opposite (or same, as the case may be) sex. It's a celebration of fleeting blissful ignorance and stupidity.

Hair Metal provides you the perfect soundtrack to those things. And that's why Hair Metal is the best kind of rock n roll that there is.

zakalwe
March 10th 2014



6714 Comments


I don't believe it! A fucking great well composed arguement on sput that is insightful.
Hold on though pal cos I'm at work and haven't got the time to compose a structured response but it is coming!

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2014



20019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well said Sitar.

In many ways hair metal embodies a lot of what was good about the kind of rock n roll that came before it such as having fun, which of course is a big part of rock n roll, as well as many of the things that Sitar mentioned. Way too many people hate on the genre/scene because of the way the band's looked.

TheNotrap
March 10th 2014



7988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Nice review.
The album has some cool tracks.

TheSpirit
March 10th 2014



17193 Comments


Reb Beach is the man

Digging: vhmnt / blsphm - vhmnt / blsphm

SitarHero
March 10th 2014



4605 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Heh, I look forward to it Zak.

And word up JT. I often wish the world had turned out the way Bill & Ted said it would. Damn you, Keanu!

treefingered2
March 10th 2014



150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha nice summary! I do like Winger and I'm happy I'm not alone in that.

Digging: Bad Brains - Bad Brains



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy