Mike Tramp

CMC International Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Mike Tramp wants you to forget about 1986. Forget that he was in the band White Lion, forget that he was often seen as one of metal's "pretty boys" - forget even about the success his old band had with "Wait" and "When The Children Cry."

That was 1987 and a whole other life ago. Eleven years later, Tramp now sports tattoos and a nose ring in place of a mane of wild blond hair, now has a guitar and harmonica strapped to him, and has put the days of pop metal behind him. In its place he has left his solo debut, Capricorn, a personal catharsis of sorts that takes the best aspects of AOR rock and brings them into the forefront. And if the skeptics can put the past behind them, they'll discover an incredible album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The ten songs on this disc are incredibly personal, and somewhat shocking from the pictures they paint. "Have You Ever," a song Tramp calls a photo album of his life, displays a life that has had its share of pain and disappointment, but also challenges those of us who might be in the same situation to be willing to put the past behind us. It's a song that is painfully beautiful, and I can't stop listening to it.

In the same vein, "Love Will Come And Go" is a portrait of confronting the negatives of a relationship and its ending, but also looks toward the resiliency of each one of us and the fresh start each morning brings. "Already Gone" is a slightly harder-edged song in the same vein, in which our hero questions why the woman he loves (and who doesn't love him) is still with him.

But not everything in Capricorn is tears and beer. "Heart Of Every Woman" is one of two logical choices for the leadoff single, combining powerful lyrics and musicianship with another powerful message. The other song, "Had I Not Complained," is an incredible performance that is Tramp's declaration of independence from White Lion. (Never mind the fact that his old bandmate James Lomenzo adds a helping hand to the vocals and the CD booklet.)

"Better Off," a song about child abuse, borrows a page from Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun" in which the victim kills his abuser, but Tramp dares to ask the musical question, "Is he better off now that his father is dead?" - in short, is the "solution" really a solution? Powerful stuff, indeed.

Capricorn is an early front-runner for the best album of 1998 - and the sad thing is that many radio stations won't want to take a chance with it because of Tramp's White Lion image. I don't know how many readers we get from mainstream radio, but I'd challenge them all to give Capricorn a spin - and I mean listening to the whole album, not 15-second snippets - and testing a track or two on their stations. I'll bet the reaction you get is absolutely incredible.

If an old cynic like me can take an album like Capricorn at face value and see how brilliant of a job Tramp has done, here's hoping the rest of us, radio and consumer markets included, can do the same. 

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.