Since Mr. Big had their big hit with the campfire singalong "To Be With You," it's easy for the average listener to assume that Mr. Big is one of the poppiest of the pop-metal bands, when precisely the opposite is the case. Mr. Big was formed by two virtuosos, shred kings Paul Gilbert (formerly the guitarist for Racer X) and Billy Sheehan, who came to prominence as the bassist for David Lee Roth's solo band, and the band was designed as a way for both to flash their chops. At least at first, songs were a secondary consideration, a vehicle for the two to play. Tunes were gradually introduced to the band, taking hold on their second album, but remnants of the instrumentalists-first mentality persisted, even after Gilbert flew the coop at the end of the '90s, since he was replaced with fellow guitar virtuoso Richie Kotzen, who briefly filled C.C. Deville's shoes in Poison. Both eras are accurately represented on Rhino's 2004 collection Greatest Hits, which contains all the hits, all the songs that were transcribed in guitar magazines, and a few rarities to boot. Those expecting a bunch of "To Be With You"s or even pop-metal in the vein of Poison will find this a bit disappointing, since this isn't very hooky and on the harder side of pop-metal, giving Gilbert and Sheehan room to roam. But fans of those two, as well as Kotzen, will find Greatest Hits a satisfying distillation of Mr. Big's erratic albums, containing everything of note they recorded.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine