In the Heart of the Young

Winger’s new album, In the Heart of the Young, contributes at least one goodie to civilization, and that’s the video of its opening cut (and first single) ”Can’t Get Enuff.” The lyrics of the song are about a guy who can’t get enough of his girl, but in the video it’s the girl who’s insatiable. She drags the boy over to one of those coin-operated photo booths, dances inside, pulls the curtain shut, and to the boy’s utter astonishment starts tossing out her clothes. She’s a venerable rock & roll myth — a wild, wild woman, but domesticated, turned into something like a good-natured circus act.

In the same song, Kip Winger — normally a heavy metal version of the boy next door — even manages something almost like a lusty snarl. But the platinum sales of Winger, his 1988 debut album, may have gone to his head. Case in point: the track ”Baptized by Fire,” in which Winger tries to rap. Far more radical groups (Anthrax, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the currently popular Faith No More) have neatly blended rap and funk with metal. But they sound as if they’ve actually listened to rap and funk. Winger sounds as if he’d listened to his radical colleagues and then tried to jump on the bandwagon.

Even worse are songs evidently meant to have deep spiritual significance. One of these, ”Rainbow in the Rose,” is romantic swill, offering nothing more than cliche piled on cliche. Another, the album’s title cut, is an anthem to wide-eyed emptiness. ”Rise up,” Winger sings. ”The rebellion has just begun.” What rebellion? ”There’s a fire in the heart of the young.” But what do the youth of America want? Winger never tells us, and it’s hard not to think he’s stumbled on the idea of youth rebellion 20 years too late. He should stick to straight-ahead rock & roll. He’s none too original when he sings that, either, but at least he seems to understand what he’s talking about. C+

In the Heart of the Young
  • Music