Since Winger was marketed largely on the looks of lead singer Kip Winger, and since their sleazy rockers and lovelorn ballads cover the same old pop-metal territory, the band's high-quality musicianship tended to get overlooked. Guitarist Reb Beach earned wide praise from other musicians, and he, ex-Dixie Dregs drummer Rod Morgenstein, and keyboardist Paul Taylor bring a distinct progressive metal influence to many of the tunes on Winger. Even if the lyrics are standard issue, the album is impeccably composed, crafted, and played, with melodies, riffs, and guitar solos taking off in unexpected directions and keeping the listener slightly off balance -- no easy task in the cookie-cutter hair metal genre. The only misstep is an overdone, tight-assed, totally misguided recasting of "Purple Haze." Otherwise, Winger is a surprisingly accomplished debut.
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey