Review | Mr. Big – Ten

Frontiers Music S.R.L.

Galloping drums and roaring bass ignite ,,Good Luck Trying’’, the opening salvo of Mr. Big’s 10th and potentially final album `Ten’. It’s a blazing return to form, widening the band’s classic rocking horizon once again with Eric Martin’s soulful crooning, Paul Gilbert’s blistering fretwork, and Billy Sheehan‘s rich bass melodies and fills. This is quintessential Mr. Big – a benchmark for traditional rock bands taking one last mighty swing. `Ten’ is presumably their last offering since it collides with their ‘The Big Finish’-tour, but it is a hammer swinging at you in high velocity!


With Nick D’Virgilio manning the drums, Mr. Big assures a bedrock foundation with ironclad groove and compulsion. Together with Billy Sheehan, D’Virgilio ensures the band’s tremendous driven, allowing Sheehan more than once to step forward to displays his impressive bass playing prowess. 

The album’s lead single, ,,Good Luck Trying’’ immediately sets the tone with its infectious hooks and impressive shredding guitar work from Paul Gilbert. He lays down electrifying guitar riffs and licks, energizing the song’s alternating tempos from bluesy waltzing into parading heavy turmoil. Following Gilbert’s blistering solo, Sheehan starts plucking his strings again to speed up tempo. 

Atop all this blistering power, Martin croons his vocals. Dripping with blues and hip-swinging soul he guards the typical bluesy edge of the band. Martin keenly wanders in his comfortable terrain relaying on his lively sound, injecting the songs with his raspy croon and refraining from the high registers. His mid-section strong as always has proven to be the most reliable source on the band’s later releases including this new tenth album aptly entitled `Ten’. 


Mr. Big maintains their signature thrive and pops with wonderful tracks full of melody and timeless quality on `Ten’. The mid-register of their output walks a fine line with Eric Martin‘s vocal cords, and in all honesty, it makes everything gel like crazy. There’s a palpable sense of rejuvenation in their music, leaning into the sheer pleasure of performing – something the band has always displayed on stage. This overall radiance is captured perfectly by the band in close cooperation with producer Jay Ruston, with joy huing from every note.

Throughout the record, Mr. Big delivers a masterclass in songcraft. Tracks like the hard-hitting, full-throttle delivery of ,,What Were You Thinking’’ showcase searing guitars and a rock ‘n’ roll groove that simply won’t quit. For some reason, the album feels like a collection of contemporary dynamite sticks ready to explode with their homage to the genre greats of the past.

Wrapped up in the typical Mr. Big compulsion, the songs swell with blisses of power, blues and soul constantly percolating into the mix, creating an honest and very organic rock delivery. Take ,,I am You’’ for example, it parades with growling bass and hammering drums, but also packs a Who-ish guitar windmilling it into orbit. Colorful picking and lush licks color the (somewhat) summertime vibe it packs.


On tracks like ,,Right Outta Here’’, Gilbert’s guitar weeps with towering accolades over Sheehan’s wonderful bass lines. His fingers bend the strings with precise control, as the song flows into a memorable hook and roaring Middle Eastern melody. Sheehan delves into the same exotic scale, his bass lines intertwining with Gilbert’s leads in a mesmerizing dance.

Eric Martin’s vocals soar above it all, invigorating the track with powerful phrasing and wailing moans that seamlessly blend into the recurring Middle Eastern sections. It’s a masterful display of musicianship, with each member’s contribution elevating the others’ to dizzying heights. 

On this track, Mr. Big parades like never before, blending their typical sound with 70s melodies and echoing guitars, while Eric Martin belts out his most melodic register. The instantly nesting melodies and sticky chorus are tightly harmonized, gripping the listener with a psychedelic Beatle-esque vibe, while its stance evokes the swagger of glam rock. Martin phrases strongly on ”a cosmic sparkle in her eyes’’ with the band’s lush harmonies at the chorus filling the song with summertime glow. Paul Gilbert’s solo is delightfully distorted, taking on a kaleidoscopic overall vibe that works wonderfully with the trippy, sunshine-drenched atmosphere.


More free hand, Gilbert sets ,,As Good as it Gets” in motion with Tom Scholz tone and vibes unloading in Moody Blues style. Its dynamic jazzy drums create the right space in between the breathing instrumentation, with Billy playing a pulsating riff-like groove. The uplifting spirit is tremendous and displays a feelgood vibe. Touching their bluesiest register, Gilbert revs it up like Mick Ralphs on ,,What Were You Thinking’’. His sterling lick, reminiscent of the feverish pitches of Brian May, pumps heavy rocking blues as Martin roars loudly, packing a honky-tonk vibe. 

Switching to a heavier, ponderous groove, the scorching guitars in Kiss’ 70s fashion on ,,Up on You’’ pack wonderful nesting melodies and a catchy chorus. More subtly, ,,Courageous’’ pulls forward with a wonderful groove, and the guitars spread wide. There’s a thunderous low in Billy’s bass, while the song is a concoction of classic Mr. Big with its memorable melodies. The moaning solo displays skills, and the musical interplay is tremendous, adding up to a serious muscular display of Mr. Big’s prowess.


The record pulses with heavy, infectious grooves. The bonus track ,,8 Days on the Road’’ stands as the exclamation point, drawing a thunderous roar, resonant lower registers. Bassists Billy and Pablo engage in an intricate musical dialogue, complementing each other’s playing with masterful precision.

Billy’s bass drones with an earthy, hypnotic low, locked in perfect sync with the versatile, stop-motion rhythms of Nick’s dynamic drumming. Over this rock-solid foundation, Paul’s guitar rains down licks and melodies, soaring leads blazing with virtuosic flair. Their instrumental solo spots showcase fretboard wizardry, as they feed off each other’s energy in an electrifying exchange of improvisational fire.

The grooves hit with undeniable power but invite to soak in the vibrant musicality. It’s an irresistible combination of brooding grit and finesse, raw energy and sublime artistry that keeps you hooked.


For fans familiar with Mr. Big’s discography, `Ten’ delivers the kind of heart-touching ballads and slow movers that have become the band’s trademark. The emotive ballad ,,The Frame” is a standout, a power ballad that would have undoubtedly stormed the worldwide charts in the 90s. Its execution differs from the bluesy tones of ,,Who We Are”, showcasing the band’s versatility.

What’s truly impressive is how Mr. Big conveys raw emotion in this reflection on their career and life. Eric Martin’s vocals resonate deeply, singing the lyrics straight into the listener’s heart and soul. The song channels profound emotions, built upon D’Virgilio’s intense groove and Billy Sheehan’s subtle bass lines. As the track reaches its climax, it becomes a warm discharge of emotions, with Eric’s engaging vocal delivery on the line ‘’Watching you sleeping, lost in your dreaming”.

`Ten’ boasts a gritty sound that captures the band’s pure live energy. While staying true to their roots, Mr. Big also explores new territory, incorporating blues and soulful rock into their signature style. Blending these benchmark ingredients with classic rock’s best contemporary acts, the music also feels like a homage to their influences, one final bow.

With ` Ten’, Mr. Big cements their legacy as one of the most powerful and respected (live) acts in the hard rock scene. The album is a fitting swan song, capturing the band‘s spirit and leaving fans with a lasting testament to their artistry while instantly checking in with their influences.

Release date: 12 July 2024



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