This is "The Big 10 - The Essential Tracks", in which we take a closer look at particular artist's or band's back catalogue, and choose the 10 finest moments. These are our subjective choices, so if you want to ask how on earth we could leave off such and such song from the list, you can... and the answer is... because we could.


White Lion were formed in 1983 in New York City by guitarist Vito Bratta and vocalist Mike Tramp. The Danish-born Tramp (real name: Michael Trempenau, born Jan 14, 1961) had already experienced some success with Mabel, a pop band that was popular in Denmark and Spain. They even took part in the Eurovision Song Contest of 1978 with a truly hideous song called "Boom Boom".

Later on, the band moved towards hard rock with their music, and in 1981 they changed their name to The Studs and relocated to the States. In the end, only Tramp stayed in the States, found himself a great writing partner in Bratta and eventually found his way to the top of the charts.

White Lion's early stages were far from easy. They recorded their first album "Fight To Survive" only to find out that the record label didn't like it and dropped them. The album was then re-recorded and first released in Japan. In 1985 it got a domestic release by the Grand Slamm label, but didn't get much of a push as the label went bankrupt soon after.

If my memory serves me right, I actually heard White Lion for the first time in the movie "The Money Pit". They played a (bit of a) song called "Web Of Desire" in it, with an additional female singer prancing around. That 50 seconds of fame didn't really showcase them properly, I only noticed that they "looked the part" and had the moves... as far as I know, that song hasn't surfaced anywhere, and I'm not even sure whether it was ever fully recorded.

Arguably the band's finest moment "Pride" was released in June 21, 1987. Produced by Michael Wagener, the album was chock full of potential hits, big hooks and exceptional guitar playing by Vito Bratta. Then... nothing happened. The band went on tour, but the album's sales were modest. Only when MTV started playing the band's video for "Wait", the sales figures started to grow. The band's live shows were probably another thing that helped, they played as support to White Lion, Aerosmith and many other major bands. Six months after the release, "Pride" finally went to the Top 20 of the US album charts. The second single "Tell Me" was a modest success, but later in 1988 the band hit the jackpot with "When The Children Cry", the acoustic ballad of the album. It peaked at No. 3 on the singles chart and "Pride" ended up selling over 2 million copies.

The band's third album "Big Game" was released in August 1989, and it was a bit of a disappointment. Even though the album wasn't as horrible as its' hideous artwork would suggest, it was nowhere near as good as "Pride". Sure, it had its' moments but overall it lacked punch and power, despite being produced by Wagener again. Despite the less metallic sound the album's singles didn't take the mainstream radio by storm, as the label heads had probably hoped. The album did sell enough to earn the band gold records, but that was about it.

The band had a long hard look at their direction and decided to go back to the roots, playing edgy hard rock with big hooks. "Main Attraction" was the result, a fine comeback album released in the spring of 1991. Unfortunately, the tide had already changed and with their "hair band status", White Lion were pretty much doomed. Never mind that most of their songs were far from the party anthems of Warrant or Mötley Crüe... Soon after the release of "Main Attraction", Tramp and Bratta sacked the band's rhythm section of James Lomenzo and Greg D'Angelo. They continued for a while with replacement guys, but finally called it a day in September 1991.

Since the break-up, not much has been heard of Vito Bratta. Apparently he quit music altogether for family and health-related reasons. Mike Tramp launched Freak Of Nature, a harder-edged band that released a couple of albums in the nineties. He then went solo and has released several solo albums over the years.

A few years ago Tramp resurrected the White Lion name, and released an album called "Return Of The Pride" with new musicians. It was an okay album, but frankly I don't consider it as a real White Lion album, as Bratta was such a vital part of the band. Neither does Tramp, who has admitted that it was a mistake to try to come up with new White Lion music on his own.

My Top Ten White Lion songs:

10. Don't Give Up
9. Wait
8. Little Fighter
7. Tell Me
6. Cry For Freedom

5. When The Children Cry
The tearjerker. Okay, some people hate this song with passion, but I think it's a heartfelt ballad with a good message. "No more presidents, and all the wars will end"... It's not that simple, but there's some truth to that... "What have we become? Just look what we have done. All that we've destroyed, you must build again."

4. Lady Of The Valley
Mike Tramp sings that "I have lost my brother in the fights of war" and asks for help from the mysterious Lady Of The Valley. One of the harder-edged songs from "Pride" with ambiguous lyrics, an anti-war message wrapped in fantasy. Vito Bratta's guitar playing is out of this world, yet the song oozes melody and hooks.

3. Hungry
Ahem. If the two previous songs represented the serious, mature side of White Lion's lyrics, "Hungry" proves that they were capable of Kiss-styled rock'n roll "poetry". "Keep your engine running high, when you take my love inside, but hold the trigger on my loaded gun". Gene Simmons would be proud of those lines. Musically though, the song rocks hard, again combining mesmerizing guitar playing with catchy melodies, not to mention the massive background vocals.

2. Lonely Nights
When I heard "Pride" for the first time, I thought that this song would be the one, the megahit that would break the band into the mainstream. It was never even issued as a single, but remains a fan favourite. Every second of the song is magical for me, starting with the delicate acoustic intro that turns into a monster melodic riff. Bratta's axemanship has no boundaries, if you listen closely he's doing all kinds of crazy things is the background yet never overplaying, letting the song flow naturally. And the chorus... they don't come any bigger.

1. Broken Heart
The only song on my list representing "Mane Attraction" and "Fight To Survive" albums. To be honest, I think the '91 version is better, but I do love them both. The song title might make you think that this is a weepy ballad, but that's not the case, it's an uplifting anthem. "There is life - even after a broken heart" is the main message. Hooks, melodies, guitars... all those elements mentioned before can be found in this song too. The essence of White Lion.

This list by: Kimmo Toivonen

The list as a YouTube playlist

Individual lists:

Urban Wallström:

10.When The Children Cry
9. Lights and Thunder
8. You're All I Need
7. It's Over
6. Lonely Nights
5. Leave Me Alone
4. Love Don't Come Easy
3. Cry For Freedom
2. Wait
1. Broken Heart

Martien Koolen:

10. When The Children Cry
9. Love Don't Come Easy
8. . Wait
7. Broken Heart
6. Cry For Freedom
5. Tell Me
4. Radar Love
3. Hungry
2. All You Need is Rock N Roll
1. Lights and Thunder

(c) 2014 RockUnited.Com


10. When The Children Cry
9. All You Need is Rock N Roll
8. Love Don't Come Easy
7. Tell Me
6. Lights And Thunder
5. Lonely Nights
4. Wait
3. Hungry
2. Cry For Freedom
1. Broken Heart