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White Lion Wednesday

I'm in the mood for some White Lion on this Wednesday. Obviously we all know that the band has had a ton of lineup changes over the years. Guitarist Vito Bratta was an original member. By all accounts, Bratta was a guitar prodigy who simply walked away from his instrument and rock star life. Singer Mike Tramp stayed with the band, now "sort of" known as Tramp's White Lion. You might recall I gave the band's newest record Return of the Pride a poor review. I don't really care for the newer White Lion tunes, but I love the classic stuff.

Here's "Wait."

Here's "Tell Me"

Reader Comments (6)

Not to mention that their former bass player is banging out "Peace Sells" next to Dave Mustaine these days.
November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSnoot
Yeah, the new album isnt great, but make sure you check out Tramp's solo album "Capricorn". Its an AMAZING record.
November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Ozz
It's too bad Vito walked away, as he wrote some absolutely MONSTER melocdic riffs, and was truly a very under rated guitarist.
November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGary
Saw 'em in '88 off "Pride" at the Cat Club in NYC. It really was surreal to see bands like this in such a tiny venue with characters like Ahmet Ertegun, Chairman of Atlantic (WL's label at the time) roamin' around between sets and then go home and turn on MTV and watch "Wait" or "Tell Me".

And I will never forget seein' these guys for one simple reason...

Vito Bratta!

He was a monster guitar player and just made everyone's jaw drop that night.

Yeah, he knocked off Eddie Van Halen, kinda...

Hell, he even looked vaguely like him back in the day...

But despite all the comparisons, when you really listen, especially live...

When he's really crankin' a long lead, or something...

He sounds like Eddie and Hendrix all rolled into one, which kinda created a singular style for him. Plus my impression of him that night was he was just plain comin' up with stuff off the cuff, jammin' the leads out a little longer, even playin' in a way no one had ever seen before, for real...

An absolute stunner!

Which is even weirder when you think about the Glam Metal image of the band as a whole.

What a shame what went on there with those guys. I heard it was none too pretty when they broke up and has pretty much been a passive aggressive mess ever since.

And I just read in the transcript of the '07 Eddie interview (on Wikipedia) that Vito Bratta had injured his wrist while playing acoustic guitar and for now can only play with nylon strings.

Back to that fateful night when I was fortunate enough to see 'em, one drawback was getting the feeling Tramp, simply based on my observations of his body language, and at times, wavering drowned-out voice, was the fact that he wasn't really smiling and his voice just didn't seem that strong.

It felt like he was being upstaged by Vito and didn't like it one bit (man, how could he not look like that). I mean, really man, this Bratta dude was just tearing the place apart. Hell, he upstaged the whole place. He owned the room. The whole place was transfixed by him!

But Tramp should have realized to embrace Vito's ability to command all of the attention and supported it, rather than feel threatened by it. They would have gone a lot further, playin' Bratta's guitar hero potential to the hilt.

Though, "When The Children Cry" is not exactly my cup of tea (works better than a sleeping pill for me), gotta admit it really came to life for me when I saw 'em live, when Bratta and Tramp got on a couple of barstools, a spotlight on each, and did it totally "unplugged" a la Plant and Page during one of Zep's acoustic "sets". At this point in the show, I'll admit, as well, Tramp really came alive and it was just astonishing to hear Bratta play an acoustic guitar and sound like three guitarists.

But every other moment they were performing during that show, Bratta was more than just a Van Halen clone "gimmick", but outshone everyone on the stage, whether Tramp liked it or not. Tramp just didn't have half the presence this guy did. Yeah, I guess Tramp was pretty to look at, which sold the records to the ladies and enhanced the image to sell on MTV, but it was the extraordinary chops and sheer velocity of Bratta's playing that just absolutely dominated the whole affair.

Bratta was also the band's lead songwriter.

When Vito left so went the "Lion" in "White Lion".

I also heard that Vito was approached about rejoining 'em years later, but he wasn't ready and then when he finally was, Tramp shunned him, tho somebody here probably has the story down better than I do.

I'll see what more I can find out.

In any case, too, I heard Bratta's a virtual recluse but Google him and there's a fair amount of stuff on him and the aforementioned interview with Eddie Trunk on Blabbermouth from '07 among other things.

Wish these guys could put it all aside and team up again. This guy Bratta truly is one of the best Glam Metal guitarists from back then...

Check out their cover of "Radar Love" and a personal fave, "Don't Say It's Over". What a killer opening riff on the latter. "Hungry" rocks out, too. Some of the demo and early stuff on Anthology is cool, too, cuz it's got Vito straight up in the studio without the polished production values and effects. "Rock You Tonight", for example...

Also, 1991's "Main Attraction" contains the instrumental "Blue Monday", apparently a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan (Source: Wikipedia), which really showcases Bratta's wizardry.

He also recieved Guitar World Magazine's "Best New Guitarist" accolade in 1988.

Despite containing a fair amount of fluff and filler, songwriting-wise, nearly every album they did has something worth listening to on it, even at the bitter end, solely because of Bratta, if you get my drift (as I'm sure you, by now, do, hahaha!!!)...

Too bad they never put out an official live album back in the day with Bratta in full glory. They coulda taken a cue from Cheap Trick's multi-platinum live album, "Budokan". They coulda released one after the first two records and it might have been a monster, given Bratta's guitar prowess. Of course, then again, it mighta been too late, cuz of the Seattle Flannel Brigade's march on Glamtown, let alone the Hippity-Hoppers, etc. commandeering MTV.

The little Tramp is okay, but, c'mon, not the b*llsiest singer, Kenny (though I confess, I haven't heard "Capricorn"...yet...and as you know all to well, I am more than fully capable of eatin' my words for all to see on a frequent basis). I think the fact that Tramp is the only founding member left explains what he's all about.

It's been funny to learn that Bratta sues Tramp virtually at every turn Tramp tries to perform as "White Lion". Apparently Vito owns half of the name, and make's Tramp do stuff like add his name to it as in "Mike Tramp's White Lion", etc., hahaha!!! Must drive Tramp nuts. Good!

Yeah, you could say that about a lot of "bands" out there, like Pretty Boy Floyd (really lost the plot on that one, as you all might have noticed, hahaha!!!) or Alice Cooper, for example. But Tramp sure as hell ain't no Alice Cooper (even if he's technically a better singer).

Vito on the other hand, was and still should be a force to be reckoned with!

Wish Bratta would get some new stuff out there...

Sounds like another one for Al's "3 Metal Wishes" post from not too long ago...

p.s. to Kenny: still haven't had the chance to throw on Danger Danger's "Cockroach" yet. Gonna finally check it out tonight. I'll let ya know my thoughts (as you probably can tell, I will, hahaha!!!). Also, I'm such a maroon! Can't believe this has been out since 2001 and on Sony Special Products, no less. Here I was thinkin' it was the Holy Grail. It is true, however, that it's a crime, regardless of the fact I have not yet listened to it, that this wasn't put out immediately -- at the very least, the second time, when it was redone, sans Poley, but with Paul Laine, back in the day. Then again, we wouldn't have the pleasure of comparing both versions.
November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
i think the new cd is pretty good yes its disappointing vitto is not in the band but they stay pretty true to the white lion sound, as for the capricorn cd i bought it when it came out and hasnt been played a second time lol
November 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterglamrockerarchie
Glamrock Archie,

Gotchya on White Lion. I'll check out the new stuff. To be honest, I shouldn't be so hypercritical. You're right, this is a helluva band. I mean, I'm overdoing it, criticizing the singer, Mike Tramp, and all. As much as I don't much like the fact that it seems like he thinks he is the show, in many ways, he is.

I mean, imagine White Lion without Tramp's voice. It just wouldn't be White Lion. As innovative as Vito was, even with the Van Halen comparisons, his guitar stuff can be approximated by someone with the technical prowess who's capable of properly forging it. But it just ain't that easy to replicate Tramps voice, no matter how reed thin I may think it may be at times. Look at Journey. Even with a guy who's supposedly better than Steve Perry, in other words out Steve Perrying Steve Perry, it still ain't Perry.

As much of a guitar hero as Vito was (and it breaks my heart that these guys can't put it all back together, for real, especially this stuff about Bratta's injury. What a shame if that was so debilitating, he could never get back with a full fledged reunion scenario.

Too, I think a lot of these guys become convinced they are going to make just as much money or more going "solo" in a kind of tribute band set up of their own band except where they play themselves in it, in this case, Tramp, the original singer.

Another case equally criminal, though not exactly the same circumstances, is where Mike Colby, the original guitarist and founding member of the Babys, hired John Waite to be the lead singer only to have Waite turn around and have Colby fired once the band experienced some success on the charts.

To this day, these two can't get it back together. What a waste it all is considering what it could have been.

Go on Michael Colby's myspace page. It's a killer web site really with lots of music and killer performances including a live one on the Merv Griffin Show.

These guys were Glam before Glam Metal, really. Very pop but still very Rock and Roll just the same. And they all had the chops, too. Waite is killer here, just should have worked out the differences with Colby, not had him fired, unless there's just something we don't really know about, which may also be the case with White Lion.

Colby's also got some interesting friends, who's "ads" in his friend's section are just killer. One of 'em's a total fan of Angel, an Angel freak, no doubt, who's posted lots of incredible photos of that band in the friend's section. Check it out...

But back to White Lion. Here's to Vito and godspeed for his hand to be healed and Mike Tramp to never stop begging on his knees for Vito's return to the band!
November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!

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