Although Mr. Big is best known in the U.S. for their guitar shredding and for pulling off a near-impossible feat -- scoring a few hit ballads smack dab in the middle of grunge's reign -- they carved quite a niche for themselves in the land of the rising sun. In Japan, Mr. Big are treated like kings, where they sell out such respected venues as the Budokan, and members such as bassist Billy Sheehan continue to top magazine polls for being tops at their instrument. Recorded during one of their final tours, 2002's In Japan features the "latter day" Mr. Big lineup, as original guitarist Paul Gilbert has been replaced with brief Poison member Richie Kotzen. Skipping over most of the group's best-known earlier material (most obviously the aforementioned ballads -- "To Be with You" and "Just Take My Heart"), the band's rock side is showcased on "Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy," "Alive and Kickin'," and "Electrified." Although it must be said that singer Eric Martin's bluesy shtick does grow thin after a while, and the lyrics to "Addicted to that Rush" have "hair metal era" stamped all over them. Die-hard Mr. Big or Billy Sheehan fans will want to hunt down a copy of In Japan.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato