Mr. Big - Actual Size
Melodic Rock
12 songs (51:11)
Release year: 2001
Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

Here it is. The end of Mr. Big. I slam my last quarter into the cabinet and blow that big headed, fedora wearing fuck out the spike lined asshole of the world. Blood and guts decorate the screen as digitized crack dealers are blown apart by my grenade launcher. I become joyously erect and howl, "This is Ronnie's America you piece of shit! And winners don't do Drugs!!!!!" Oh wait, we're talking about the band Mr. Big, not the last boss in the 1988 arcade game N.A.R.C.. Well, this isn't the complete end of Mr. Big (the band), but at the time this was to be their last album. At first one would think it's because their new lineup with guitarist Richie Kotzen wasn't well received. Ackshually, in Japan where their hardest of hardcore of fans reside, the Kotzen albums went over quite well. Hell, Shine from this record, made it to number three in the Japanese charts. Piecing together what I can from old articles and interviews, it just seems like the band came to an end after more than a dozen years together. Typical in fighting, changing times, all that jazz and a bag of ass.

What really separates Actual Size from Get Over It is that Actual Size tones down the blues elements and is a more slick melodic rock album. There's still quite a bit of blues-isms such as I Don't Want To Be Happy but for the majority of the record, this really brings to mind Harem Scarem. Like a mixture of the best of Believe and say some of Weight Of The World. The first few songs are really infectious, really slick and melodic, and have explosive hooks. Lost In America begins with what I call a "classic" sounding riff. Short, punchy, choppy power chords let us know that Mr. Big is taking a step back into a more familiar territory. Wake Up is an even more upbeat song that is pretty fun to listen to even if the lyrics are a bit sappy. Shine is a pseudo-ballad and I like it actually. Richie Kotzen does some lead vocals in the chorus. Mary Goes Round is a highlight musically and lyrically. I like to say this is about weed (Mary goes round, get it? Mary JANE!) and the music is sublime with its wistful melodies. Kinda has a Julio and Me Smoking Fat Dank Blunts Down in The Schoolyard from Paul Simon vibe. Anyways, she comes in every color (green, orange, purple), you just can't help but love her, when Mary goes round! The mood is so uplifting here I feel like I'm in a field of five gallon trash bags full of nuggs the size of my arm and as I fall backwards I'm surrounded by a swarm of kittens and puppies and excited flying squirrels. Suffocation breaks up the happy go lucky mood and starts the second half of the record with a super bluesy funk track. There's lots of wah pedal use and ye olde funk chord chopping. During this reacquaintance with the Kotzen years, I got this song mixed up as being on Get Over It. Well, since this obviously has Richie's influence all over it he also happens to have even more lead vocals than he did on Shine. How Did I Give Myself away begins as if it would be a schmaltzy ballad but surprisingly it turns into a shuffle. A shuffle with a fifties type chorus.

While it seems that there is a definite attempt to tone down some blues-isms and to retain some of that melodic nature, Actual Size still feels like an album of its time. Not a nu metal album, no. But since there are hardly any of the tones and sounds that were all over records such as Lean Into It this would not be confused for an eighties hair metal album. After this release the guys of Mr. Big would all go their separate ways. It wouldn't be until 2009 when they got back with Paul Gilbert and then that pretty much cemented these tracks as never being played live again. If someone is wanting to discover the sounds of Mr. Big then the Kotzen era is probably not the place to start. Once one becomes familiar with the group and its players and the history and whatnot, then by all means, dive into the two Kotzen records. There's lots to discover here.

Killing Songs :
Lost In America, Shine, One World Away, Mary Goes 'Round, Suffocation
Ben quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Mr. Big that we have reviewed:
Mr. Big - Get Over It reviewed by Ben and quoted 83 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Jun 08, 2021 6:09 am
View and Post comments