Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Tour of Mike Tramp's Museum

Museum is the latest solo release from former White Lion vocalist and songwriter, Mike Tramp. Tramp may be best known for his years in White Lion, but he has remained consistently active since the original White Lion last roared in 1991. In the years since White Lion’s last record, Mane Attraction was released, Tramp has delivered over 15 albums, including 3 from the highly underrated Freak of Nature, 6 solo albums, multiple live albums, an album as Tramps White Lion, 2 albums from his Rock “N” Roll Circuz project, and a career-spanning box set of rarities and demos. While Tramp continued to enjoy success in many parts of the world, the changing musical landscape of the 90’s rendered his post-White Lion work unsupported by the record company machine and virtually all but lost in the United States. The good news is that now, after many years, much of this extensive catalog is now available online through Tramp’s own online store and other online outlets. If you are fan of White Lion, I encourage you to explore Tramps post-White Lion work. Begin by checking out his first post-White Lion band, Freak of Nature followed by his first two solo records, Capricorn and Recovering the Wasted Years. 

Now off to the “Museum”. Museum is a collection of largely acoustic driven songs that picks up where his last record, 2013’s Cobblestone Street left off and is stronger overall than its predecessor. Typical of Tramp’s style, the songs are well-written with catchy melodies and driven by Tramps unmistakable voice, which is as strong as ever. Lyrically, He again dives head first into deeply personal, political, and social issues without restraint. Even with White Lion, Tramp has never been a one to crank out a bunch of party songs, A reason why much of the White Lion material holds up extraordinarily well some 30 years later.
From the opening track, Museum comes out of the gate swinging. “Trust in Yourself”, “New World Coming” and “Commitment” are stripped down and classic Tramp all the way. All three of these songs could have fit right in on Recovering the Wasted Years. “Freedom” finds Tramp looking for some space among the chaos and might be the best track on the record. “Better” “Time for Me to Go” and “Mother” are a change of pace as piano takes the center stage over the guitars. The latter, a heartfelt tribute to his mother, is a beautifully arranged.  Museum does differ from its predecessor by adding more electric guitars and percussion on “Down South”, “And You Were Gone” and “Slave”. These songs find Tramp experimenting with sounds and rhythms that almost give the record a worldlier feel. No surprise Tramp has spent the last year on the road supporting Cobblestone Street. 

Mike Tramp, more than most artists from the 80's, plays straight from the heart. Forever a troubadour, his Bob Dylan influence always shining through. For better or worse and, his emotions reside plainly on his sleeve. Seemingly more comfortable behind an acoustic guitar than in front of a wall of Marshalls. If you want to know Mike Tramp, all you have to do is listen to his records and go see him live. Like an open book, his story is right there.

In the song Looking into You, Jackson Browne wrote the line " The Great Song Traveler passed though here and he opened my eyes to the view".  I'm not sure who Browne was referring to back in 1972, but it very well could have been written present day about Mike Tramp.

Museum and many other releases from Mike Tramp's catalog can be purchased from his web store, or digitally from iTunes and Amazon. As always, if you use Amazon to shop, please use the link from the Decibel Geek site.

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