Maturity has seldom been as kind to an artist as it has been to Mike Tramp. Having risen to fame with the hard rock of White Lion in the mid 80’s and carried on with the harsher approach of Freak Of Nature through the 90’s, he has been focusing on his solo work for a long time now. One constant aspect of his career has been a distinctive personality to his sound, and that was evident in White Lion’s approach: while they took cues from duos like Page and Plant or Eddie and Dave, Mike Tramp and Vito Bratta managed to develop a style of their own, and stood out in the sea of copycats that dominated glam and hard rock in the 80’s.
With the inevitable demise of White Lion, after the grunge earthquake shook them and also countless other bands featured here at Sonic Perspectives, Mike used a Darwinistic approach and decided to adapt, with Freaks of Nature capturing influences from grunge, funk and alt rock. Their relentless work ethic generated a handful of albums, but sadly they were short lived, and disbanded mid-90’s. Many solo albums followed, and there was also an attempt to reboot While Lion in the mid-90’s, but Mike ultimately made the decision to focus on his singer/songwriting abilities.
Fast forward to 2020, and we’re rewarded with “Second Time Around”, which consists of re-recordings of songs from his 2009 album, “Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz”. In Mike’s own words, “The songs on ‘Second Time Around’ are some of my favorite compositions, and for many years I have gone around with a feeling that they were never given a real chance. I have missed them in my live shows and I have missed singing them.”
Produced by Mike himself and Soren Andersen, the Danish wizard whose credits include guitar stints with Glenn Hughes and also producing albums from The Dead Daisies, Artillery, Tygers of Pan Tang and Pretty Maids, to name a few, “Second Time Around” is a fun re-imagination of the songs from “Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz”. One would expect these songs to sound old and rehashed, but here they come across as fresh and modern as ever. The journey starts with “All of My Life”, with open chords, anthemic chorus and a late period Bon Jovi vibe. But fear not, because the current lack of punch of Jon Bon Jovi and his backup band has no place here. This was clearly an emotional record for Mike to make, and this is evident from the first note.
Songs like “The Road” and “Anymore”, whilst endearing, could use a little bit less sugar on Tramp ’s and Soren’s coffee mugs. When they choose to take less traveled paths, as shown on “Come On” and “Lay Down Your Guns”, things do get way more interesting, with the arrangements and extra dose of grit added to these tracks allowing them to stand out. Even more credit is due to the production on “Highway”, which threads a thin line and comes out victorious, managing to capture a genuine feeling, and avoiding cliché. The eternal dilemma of singer/songwriters – being able to convey a universal perspective without being generic, and add a personal touch without narrowing down the view too much – is handled well throughout the album, with tasteful lyrics and a convincing delivery from Mike.
“No Tomorrow” again benefits from a great chorus, and deserves to be sung by crowds much larger than those Tramp got used to in recent years. It seems like something Joe Eliott or Brett Michaels could easily adapt to their main bands. “Back To You” follows the same trend, with tinges of alternative music in the verse chords, and lyrics that seem to allude to Mike’s intention with the album: “write a song so pure and simple, just a melody everyone will know. Words that rhyme with you, a love so real and true”.
Things get personal at the end of the journey, as Mike pours his heart out and talks about her newborn daughter on the closing track “When She Cries”, accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar. Once again, I will let the man himself describe the album to you: “I am proud of these songs. They are like my other albums and 100% representation of who Mike Tramp is. If aliens came down to earth and happened to pick up ‘Second Time Around’ as the first Mike Tramp album they heard, I would be truly proud and confident that all of my DNA, would be in this album”.
Overall, this is a great collection of tracks, which updates Tramp’s catalogue and presents him to a newer generation, whilst keeping his old fan-base interested. In times where our confinement doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, it may seem bittersweet to listen to an album that is so fit for a road trip, but once you embrace it, this can be a pleasant ride.
All pre-orders will be personally signed by Mike Tramp. The album will be released in a LTD 500 copies only RED vinyl, black vinyl CD and digital. Special “Second Time Around” t-shirt in 100 copies only available at Targetshop.dk can be pre-ordered along with the album.
Released By: Target Records
Release Date: May 1st, 2020
“Second Time Around” Track-listing:
- All Of My Life
- The Road
- Come On
- Between Good And Bad
- Lay Down Your Guns
- No Tomorrow
- Back To You
- When She Cries
- Mike Tramp / Vocal, Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Piano
- Oliver Steffensen / Main Guitar all songs
- Claus Langeskov / Bass
- Morten Hellborn / Drums
- Soren Andersen / Additional Guitar
- Jay Boe / Hammond B-3
- Marcus Nand / 12 String Acoustic Guitar, 1st solo on “Back To You”
- Emily Garriock Langeskov / Backing Vocals
- Lars Rahbek Andresen / Piano on “Highway”
Mike Tramp revisits and reboots his solo material with more grit and punch, and leaves his past endeavors with White Lion and Freaks of Nature behind. On “Second Time Around”, his mature, tried and tested voice shines, in compositions that bring his personal life to the fore and engage the listener on hook-laden, melodic songs