21 May 2012

Review: Mr. Big - One Acoustic Night Live From the Living Room

In January of 2011 Mr. Big recorded an acoustic album in front of a small audience at WOWWOW TV studios in Tokyo, Japan. The album is called Live from the Living Room because the band performed on a stage that was created to look like a living room.
Mr. Big consists of Eric  Martin (vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitar), Billy Sheehan (bass) and Pat Torpey  (percussion).

My first thought listening to this album was, “Hey that sounds like an electric bass.”  I think the electric bass is why this album works for me. Acoustic albums are fun to listen to as a novelty and every once and awhile one comes along that actually stands well on its own. The problem with most of them though is that all the energy is sucked right out of the music. I think Mr. Big has figured out how to keep it exciting by leaving the electric bass in. In fact the last track of the album, “Nobody Left to Blame” has electric guitar as well.

After repeatedly listening to Live from the Living Room what stands out are the vocals and harmonies. When you turn down the instruments your vocals are standing there naked for everyone to hear. Martin’s vocals are dead on and soulful. The backup vocals help add some of their own excitement to these stripped down arrangements.

Right out of the gate Mr. Big are rocking it with “Undertow”. There are fantastic instrumental parts in-between the melodic vocal parts.  The whole song has a tension/resolution feel between the instrumental parts and the choruses.

“Voodoo Kiss”, is the funkiest track on Live from the Living Room. The bass lick is dripping with mojo. Sheehan must be practicing some kind of voodoo to come up with such a perfect riff.

Want to hear some amazing playing? “Around the World” has it covered on acoustic guitar and bass. I gave up trying to decide which part was my favorite. Sheehan and Gilbert both are at the top of their game on this one. When I think about the fact that this was a live show (one take, no overdubs), I can’t help but sit in awe of just what great musicians these guys are.

The last half of the album adds a string quartet playing arrangements by Takashi Miyazaki.  It’s nice how the band mixes things up a little to keep the album fresh.
While I prefer the electrified Mr. Big, the percussion and acoustic guitar on Live from the Living Room give these songs a fresh new life of their own. There are plenty of great moments on this album. If you are a Mr. Big fan you should add it to your collection. If you aren’t a Mr. Big fan give this a listen. Maybe you will like the acoustic version of the band.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks:
Undertow, Voodoo Kiss, Around the World

Kirk Bullough

1. Undertow
2. Still Ain't Enough For Me
3. As Far As I Can See
4. Voodoo Kiss
5. Take Cover
6. Around The World
7. Stranger In My Life
8. All The Way Up
9. To Be With You
10. Nobody Left To Blame

Artist:  Mr. Big
Title:  One Acoustic Night Live From the Living Room
Genre:  Acoustic Rock
Release Date: 28 February, 2012
Label:  Frontiers Records
Website:  http://www.mrbigsite.com/

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