Thursday, January 17, 2013

Freak of Nature - Freak of Nature (1993)

I am a big fan of White Lion, who regretfully broke up in 1992, shortly before I "discovered" them. Luckily, Mike Tramp, their golden-tonsiled vocalist, moved on to form this harder and somewhat darker band. Their lyrics are certainly more serious and meaningful - less of the Glam inspiration (ie: songs about sex and girls) here, and more of the darker side of relationships, more hurt and possibly more political stuff, although not so much in this CD. Essentially, a grown up version of White Lion.

Mike Tramp was born in Denmark (in 1961), and moved to America in 1982, before then living in Australia - giving him a rather strange blend of accents. His singing voice is strong, with an edge to it that works really well with the more melancholic songs - it is a voice that shows emotion. Interestingly enough, I had a bit of a crush on Tramp when I was younger, even though he is 16 years my senior, but even now pushing 52, he's still rather easy on the eyes. He has the most adorable cheekbones. Maybe I should take to drawing portraits of my favourite musicians.

This CD opens with the rockin' "Turn the Other Way", with its harmonic chorus.

"What Am I?" asks the ultimate question and answers with "... I"m just a freak of nature..." It has a solid rock beat and a catchy chorus, and a simple structure.

"Rescue Me" has a slightly aggressive start, pounding away before Tramp's voice soars over it, turning it into almost desperation, as he cries that he wants yo to "rescue me, oh rescue me". I would, Mike!

"'92" is a song that spoke to me a lot in my youth. I got this album in the early-mid 90s, when I was a teenager, afflicted with all the blights that teenagers suffer - low self-esteem, a general sense of awkwardness, a lack of close friends... Well, I DID have one close friend, but one day he up and dismissed me, and we barely spoke again. Hence the beginning lyrics: "What is it that I have done? To deserve a bullet from your gun. I always thought you were my friend, but I guess that I was wrong..." and of course, other lines like "I always knew the day would come, but never did believe..." is an apt one - albeit in a different situation.

"People" is a fairly basic song, with straightforward lyrics discussing the basic nature of humans and how some are negative and dishonest, and dismissing those - "They are people I don't like, they are shadows in my life. They are people I don't need, they will bite the hand that feeds..." Pretty good rules to live by, I suppose, if not exactly the most eloquent lyrics.

"World Doesn't Mind" speaks of how it doesn't matter if you're a little bit weird - you just gotta believe in yourself. Except in far more simplistic terms. It's a good song actually - straightforward lyrics, basic rhythm, catchy and a little bit sinister.

We get even more sinister in "Possessed". With its slightly manic rhythm and frantic lyrics, and just a hint of desperation.  It is probably has the most meaningful and impactful (is that a word?) lyrics of any of these songs, as it speaks of a murderer, damned forevermore.

We have a more melancholic number in "Where Can I Go?" which is essentially one of those "relationship angst" songs, about how hard it is to get by with this absense in your life. This is the sort of song that Tramp's voice is made for, with its edge of desperation and sorrow.

"If I Leave Today" delves more into ballad terrain. Here he is no longer mourning the loss of "you" but pondering instead whether letting "you" go is the right thing to do. Perhaps you would regain the opportunity to fly? It is a song of sacrifice, in its own way.

And the natural conclusion of the death of this relationship is revealed in "Love Was Here", easily the most melancholic and poignant song on the album, heavy with sorrow and loss.

Freak of Nature are an uncomplicated rock band, resplendent with the basic  instruments - Vocals, Bass, two Lead Guitarists (althouth their guitar solos are not especially complicated or extravagant). They have shaken off the Glam shackles of White Lion, and come across as more mature and serious. Their main charm is due to Mike Tramp's emotive vocals.

I give this album a decent 7/10*.

* Obviously most of my reviews will be 6 or higher - these ARE CDs I have forked out money to buy, after all - although yes indeed, I have made a few "mistakes" and they shall become apparent with time - probably when I run out of the "good stuff" for some of the letters of the alphabet.

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