In the world of late-1980s US rock, guitar virtuosity was the order of the day.
Eddie Van Halen’s massive popularity had ushered in a huge raft of poodle-haired, fleet-fingered plank-spankers such as Zakk Wylde, Marty Friedman and George Lynch (all of whose playing I’m still yet to actually hear…)
Though I was very definitely a Van Halen man, and also had a real penchant for Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, I was always much more into people like Scott Henderson, Jeff Beck and John Scofield than the thousand-notes-per-second boys, brilliant musicians though they undoubtedly were.
But then my friend James Broad played me ‘Addicted To That Rush’ by Mr Big. It had the unmistakable whiff of early Van Halen about it, not least with its double-time groove, similar to ‘Hot For Teacher’ and ‘Satch Boogie’.
Guitarist Paul Gilbert was clearly a veritable fire-breather with an incredible facility for high-speed, heavily-chromatic solos, but also had quite an original tone and refreshing sense of humour.
But basically ‘Addicted’ was a flagrant display of muso shock and awe, not just from Gilbert but also ex-Dave Lee Roth bassist Billy Sheehan (how many other HM tracks have had the balls to start with a bass solo?) and drummer Pat Torpey (check out his intricate hi-hat work in the opening section).
The rest of side one from their 1989 debut album was also great. Side two was not so hot though, and I really hated their pop breakthrough (‘To Be With You’).
But there’ll always be ‘Addicted To That Rush’. We’re rollin’…