With the 70s producing guitar legends that were pioneer’s in the realm of creating riffs, licks and sounds from six tiny strings that is and will be forever unparalleled, the 80s gave us a new set of hero’s that built upon that foundation to definitively establish the guitar as the dominant and crucial element of rock music. There were the ones that gained immense popularity in that decade… the likes of Eddie Van Halen and Ace Frehley; those that broke new ground with their talent and innovation, and remain legends today – Satch, Malmsteen and Vai; and then there were those that got stuck on the fringe, and for whatever reason were never able to get the recognition they deserved. In that group is Vito Bratta of White Lion, criminally under-rated and under-appreciated in my opinion. For those of us that were able to appreciate 80s rock music as it unfolded, White Lion was your typical glam/hair metal band on the surface. Dig a little deeper, and you’ve got a great four-piece with Mike Tramp’s vocals, and Bratta’s axe work carrying the band’s sound.
There is a stigma against “glam” metal that I will never understand. Sure, there were several bands whose substance was about as thin as a layer of pond scum, whose music took a back-stage to their image, but there are several acts from the 80s that, despite the focus on their image, still made fantastic music. White Lion falls into that group of artists.
Little Fighter – from their second album, Big Game – is a grand example of how good glam metal can be, and Bratta’s guitar work is the highlight. He lets loose with clean licks that grab just enough of the listener’s attention, without hogging the entire spotlight, and a solo that rivals anything Eddie VH ever recorded. I’ll grant that White Lion had a few duds in their repertoire, but Little Fighter is one of the many dynamite songs the band put out in the era of glam, and my opportunity to introduce the good side of 80s rock to those of you who may still carry that stigma that glam is not real rock/metal music. Much of it most certainly is.