There’s a lot of brilliant material to be found within the original Great White catalogue prior to their split in 2000. In fact, the run of albums released between 1987’s ‘Once Bitten’ and 1994’s ‘Sail Away’ resembles a body of work that’d make most rock bands very proud. Unfortunately, some of that greatness has since been overshadowed by legal wrangles and a complicated set up meaning there effectively became two bands operating under the Great White name. Looking beyond that, you’ll still find enjoyable tracks from both camps, and although hampered a little by vocal filters, the studio debut from Jack Russell’s Great White (‘He Saw it Comin’’, released via Frontiers Records in 2017) showed there was a lot of life left in the veteran vocalist.
In the latter part of the twentieth century, Great White made a big impression with their brand of hard rock. Adding a bluesy edge or a slightly glammy sensibility to plenty of crunch, the LA band really showed their teeth on their big selling ‘Twice Shy’ and ‘Hooked’ albums in the early 90s and even their lesser known later works had plenty to recommend them.
Russell’s 2002 solo release ‘For You’ found the vocalist branching out and experimenting with a couple of softer styles in places, but was an equally strong demonstration of his talents. Beyond that, Great White worked hard but often failed to reach the same heights and their career was somewhat marred by in-fighting and legal battles over the band name. Great White (fronted by ex-XYZ man Terry Ilous) released the surprisingly good ‘Elation’ in 2012, while Jack Russell’s Great White continued to ply their trade on the live circuit, eventually – and some would say belatedly – releasing ‘He Saw It Coming’ in 2017.
With their brand of blues inflected hard rock, In the late 80s and early 90s, Great White gained strongly favourable press on a regular basis. On the back of albums like ‘Twice Shy’ and ‘Hooked’ (1989 and 1991 respectively) providing a more sophisticated slant on the big hair sounds that were popular at the time, supported by a tough live show, their fan base was more than solid. Over the years, however, the Great White legacy has been a little sullied. An extremely unfortunate falling out between band members and a long drawn out legal battle over the band name meant that internal politics somewhat interfered with their music. Furthermore, the market has been flooded with various budget compilation packages and a fair amount of recycling material with re-recorded and inferior versions of GW classics.