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WHITEWING

Crossover Prog • United States


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WhiteWing biography
US act WhiteWing was formed in 1968, and originally consisted of Mike Drew (vocals, organ), Rod Schroeder (vocals, guitars), Mike Coates (guitars), Gary Cass (bass) and Norm Curtis (drums). In 1975 they landed a record deal with Minneapolis label ASI, who released their self-titled debut album as well as a single, Hansa, who did fairly well in the Billboard singles charts.

But what should have been a good start as recording artists for the band sadly fell by the wayside. Their album wasn't always available in the towns where they played to promote it, and it didn't help the band that their label had sold them in as a US equivalent to The Moody Blues when the sound they explored was, in fact, one rather more harder edged. The end result was that their label dropped the band rather than releasing their second album, while the main songwriter was advised to ditch the band's rhythm section and start cooperating with a vocalist of the record labels choice. The end result of which was that WhiteWing disbanded in 1976 with a sole album to their name.

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WHITEWING discography


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3.16 | 12 ratings
WhiteWing
1975

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WHITEWING Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 WhiteWing by WHITEWING album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.16 | 12 ratings

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WhiteWing
WhiteWing Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars Once you get the prog bug and have exhausted the bigwigs of the classic era, inevitably you will want to start digging deeper into the obscurities that fell between the cracks during the seemingly endless wellspring that was the 1970s. While England led the prog parade which quickly caught on in Europe, the USA lagged behind a bit with only acts like Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart giving the Brits their money's worth. However once the 70s hit bands all over the North American continent were getting in on the act including in some of the most unthinkably remote regions like South Dakota, USA. One of these true obscurities has to be the Rapid City based WHITE WING which formed in 1968 and originally consisted of Mike Drew (vocals, organ), Rod Schroeder (vocals, guitars), Mike Coates (guitars), Gary Cass (bass) and Norm Curtis (drums) but would coalesce with Mike Drew being replaced by Mike English (vocals) and Tim Renshaw replacing Schroeder and picking up keyboards.

The band started out more as a typical hard rock band with some Moody Blues inspired symphonic ballads and proved to be quite popular across the Middle regions of the USA. By 1975 they scored a record deal with the Minneapolis based ASI Records where they released this one and only self-titled album that even managed to experience a bit of Billboard single action with 'Hansa.' Given the number of years of performing live, this eponymous debut provided a nice diverse mix of testosterone filled heavy bluesy rock riffing, boogie-woogie piano rolls and AOR styled ballads that were made popular by Styx and slight touches of progressive rock that took the songs to the next level with slower tracks finding themselves drenched in mellotron and slightly more sophisticated compositional constructs than the average hard rock band of the era.

WHITE WING was a victim of record label neglect much like many a newbie bands from the era. While the band carried out a robust touring schedule, the album was rarely able to be found in many places which stunted any sort of progress. The band was also promoted as America's version of the Moody Blues which for the slowest ballads was somewhat true but WHITE WING's palette was much more diverse sounding something like the crossover prog of Styx mixed with the harder rock free spirit of bands like Triumph and even Deep Purple on tracks like 'Harbringer.' The album is quite a pleasant listening experience and while WHITE WING didn't exactly create a truly innovative sound in any way, the band certainly did an excellent job of synthesizing the disparate influences that provided the inspiration.

Ultimately a second album that was supposed to be released was scrapped and the record label instead dropped WHITE WING. The band regrouped but changed their name to Asia in 1976 and released two albums and were on the verge of breaking through the mainstream barriers around 1981 just as the other Asia, the supergroup power pop English outfit usurped the name and created legal nightmares for the band. While the first Asia would focus more on straight forward hard rock with AOR sensibilities, WHITE WING was the band's only foray into any sort of progressive territory albeit with only slight traces of the more sophisticated touches of the genre. This album is a true pleasure to experience not only as an obscurity but every track is laced with instantly addictive melodies and Mike English had the perfect voice for this style of rock. With a bit more promotion and a better production value, it could've been possible for WHITE WING to join the ranks of Styx or Kansas if the band was allowed to develop their potential further. Consider this prog lite but excellent pop rock.

While utterly forgotten by all but the locals who supported them throughout the decades, the original one and only pressing of WHITE WING's debut (some sources cite 1975 and others 1976 so not sure) has finally found a second coming with the remastered CD edition that offers all the original artwork, liner notes and a 12-page booklet with archive photos, lyrics and the band history. The album was remastered by guitarist Mike Coates himself and a worthy collection of anyone who loves beautifully melodic crossover prog from the interesting time period of 1976-82. South Dakota is hardly a state that generates much music that hits a larger audience in any way shape or form so it was quite a pleasant experience to discover WHITE WING and the following two Asia albums ('Asia' 1979 and 'Armed To The Teeth' 1980) as they are much better than i possibly could've imagined. Still though, not quite essential but not far from it.

3.5 but rounded down

 WhiteWing by WHITEWING album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.16 | 12 ratings

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WhiteWing
WhiteWing Crossover Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Live from the Black Hills...

When I stumbled across a prog rock band from the formidable prog rock power center of South Dakota, I knew I had to stop what I was doing and listen. It's so much fun to listen to obscurities from the glory days. This one is no exception. White Wing formed in the late 60s and had regional success before morphing into the band Asia in the mid 70s. Asia had completed a second album and seemed poised for bigger things when it all fell apart, partially because of legal problems arising from the use of their band name, which was clashing with another band called Asia across the pond. But that's another story.

Before there was Asia there was White Wing. This is one of those midwest regional bands like Surprise or even early Curulewski-era Styx, who blended together influences of British progressive rock with plenty of good ole American hard rock. I'm guessing the fans at their shows were far more interested in the kegger after the gig than they were in obsessing over Tony Banks. Again, just a guess. In the summer of 1976 one of their tracks called "Hansa" actually charted with Billboard which is probably not that common for South Dakota prog bands.

White Wing's self-titled and only album was recorded in Minneapolis and is likely the culmination of music the band had been gigging for years at that point. Thus there is much passion and no doubt some nostalgia in these songs, both for the band members and their fan base. There's also quite a bit of good music. My favorite parts are the softer, very dreamy and very 1970s acoustic guitar interludes like "Hansa-Cygnus", "Hansa-Aquila", and "Tuzashottma." The first two sound a bit influenced by early Crimson, bathed in Mellotron, while the latter is more classically influenced like the stuff Emmett would throw on Triumph albums.

Most of the rest of the songs are riff-heavy bluesy hard rock with lots of testosterone, blazing guitar, and occasionally organ splashes. There is an eclectic touch to the songwriting just as there is on those first four Styx albums so you are always in for a surprise or two when listening to White Wing. Some of those surprises you might really like and others might have you reaching for the gong mallet. "Wait Til Tomorrow" is one that sounds a bit different, a bit like 60s Moodies or even early Pete Ham songs. "Harbinger" approaches Deep Purple territory, heavier and no doubt a fan favorite live. "A Little Levity" is a party anthem with a cool, hyper energy strum that sounds like an SG cranked in someone's garage-I swear I've heard it before. Great keys too!

White Wing is never going to make the "greatest" list of anyone around ProgArchives, but I'll tell you, it has the kind of spirit and musical warmth that is sadly missing in many of the cold and technically talented "progressive" bands (and attitudes) of today. While I often enjoy the math-y, the dissonant, and the avant myself, there is so much room in my heart for bands like White Wing. Any band from the Badlands is welcome on my turntable, it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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