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Great White

Back to the Rhythm (Shrapnel)

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Asking a cock rocker to address a national tragedy -- one caused by his band -- might seem like a stretch. But at least he could supply listeners with the label bourbon he's been drinking to cope.

Back to the Rhythm is Great White's first album of original material since 2003, when the band's onstage pyrotechnics killed 100 people, including guitarist Ty Longley, in a Rhode Island club. Although the band dedicated the disc to its fallen fans, not a single tune explicitly addresses that night.

Instead, singer Jack Russell spins clichés and nonsensical innuendo: "Tragic times took their toll on my soul/They spun me out of control." And even better, "I've been hung out to dry, but I'm still plenty wet."

The tragedy did inspire Great White to dabble in its classic sound: bombastic pop metal. With its dreamy riffs and soaring vocals, "Here Goes My Head Again" recalls 1989's "The Angel Song."

Unfortunately, there's not enough of that to make Back to the Rhythm a worthy dedication.

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