It’s been a lengthy 15 years since any fresh material has been released by Jack Russell; solo or under the moniker ‘Jack Russell’s Great White’.
During this period there’s been a whole conglomeration of elements prompting the delay; from tragedies, lawsuits, health issues, reunions and bankruptcy to name a few.
In recent years many of Russell’s contemporaries have resurged with releases honouring material akin to their work in the 80’s and early 90’s; riding the nostalgic rollercoaster with many US festivals solely playing host to the those bands in particular.
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The preceding 2002 release ‘For You’ took a cathartic, introspective approach to song writing. Possibly the first time where Russell has channelled his emotions in such a way; one of the benefits of running your own ship as opposed to being in a fully fledged band.
‘He Saw It Coming’ not only marks the 3rd release from Russell, following the departure of Great White, but also the debut effort from his own version of Great White that was formed in 2011.
Regarding the album, Russell has gone on to state “It has the elements of the best Great White music ever written, but there’s an edge. Tony brings that validity, while Robby, Dan and Dicki add a new life. It’s going to surprise people”.
Comparisons to Russell’s extensive career with Great White are inevitable. The majority of the earlier material was a collective group effort, also to add to the fact the rhythm section of the band is headed by Tony Montana; who was the bass player in the bands prime years.
The album opener ‘Sign Of The Times’ is an easily digestible straight up no frills rock track, with Russell’s distinguishable vocals manifested. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, ‘Great White’, no unfavourable surprises, with also a nod to their biggest chart hit ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ with the line “Bitten once, bitten twice can’t take my own advice”.
Throughout the 11 tracks there’s no denying there are moments where long-term fans will reside in the comfort of the material being somewhat similar to their multi platinum albums.
‘She Moves Me’, as the title suggests is a groove swamped, laid back hip shaker that recaptures the essence of the material on 1991’s Hooked album.
Whether a conscious effort or not there appears to be more of an exploration of styles. From the heavy chugging, modern hard-rocking ‘My Addiction’ to the unostentatious, sombre tones of ‘Anything For You’ and the angsty, cathartic title track ‘He Saw It Coming’ seemingly aimed at all the naysayers (possibly including past band mates).
Where there’s a high there’s a low, in this instance it’s the finale track, ‘Godspeed’. A questionable choice for sure, featuring an eclectic collection of instruments, a capella and generally uncomfortable. Perhaps if the track were situated amongst more successful tracks on the album it may go a miss, however as the closer it does the album no justice as it’s the last taste in your mouth so to speak.
Jack Russell undeniably isn’t reinventing the wheel by any means. ‘He Saw It Coming’ is both a return to form but more so a chance to speak out to fans, to perhaps share his side of the story.
As fittingly stated in the title track: “Now he’s a man and he did what he said he would do, rising, falling, never stop crawling”.
There are currently two line ups of Great White doing the rounds, although only one promises the authenticity of the band that once graced thousands of stages worldwide and achieved multiple chart successes, that being Russell’s.
‘He Saw It Coming’ is out 27/1/17 on Frontiers records.