“Rock Me” by Great White
(Words/Music: Mark Kendall, Jack Russell, Alan Niven and Michael Nardie, Album: Once Bitten, Capitol Records 1987)
“Rock Me,” in all of its bluesy build-up glory, was the first song I (and many people) heard from Great White. Long before they became household names for their cover of Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” “Angel Song,” and their acoustic version of Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” on MTV’s Unplugged, singer Jack Russell and lead guitarist Mark Kendall began Great White as one of the best blues-oriented metal bands.
And while their first two albums focused more on “new” heavy metal of the early 80s, the return to the blues leads on “Rock Me” would allow them to break through and anticipate the return to even bluesier songs like “House of Broken Love” and its b-side, their phenomenal cover of “Red House” by Jimi Hendrix. Without a doubt, the highlight of this song is the guitar playing of Mark Kendall who switches from bluesy riffs to full-on metal solos at the end of the song. However, Great White was a band that I always had high hopes for, but ultimately, the fact that they could only manage a few distinct songs on each album relegated to opening act status and a destiny of recording tribute albums to bigger performers.