REVIEW: Whitesnake – Slip of the Tongue (Deluxe edition)

WHITESNAKE – Slip of the Tongue (1989, deluxe edition)

Normally I go crazy for these deluxe editions. Many are great!  The Whitesnake deluxe editions have not been great.  This is the third and last one in my Whitesnake deluxe edition series of reviews.

Once again, instead of two CDs, you get an expanded CD and a brief DVD. The lack of decent bonus material really frustrates me because there is more in the vaults. You know there has to be more in the vaults. In fact in the liner notes, David tells us that there is more.  He name-drops several unfinished songs that didn’t make the cut, but fans would kill to hear.

SLIP OF THE TONGUE_0008Slip Of The Tongue was not the best Whitesnake album (not by a long stretch), but with 20/20 hindsight and the presence of Steve Vai, it’s fun to listen to. Yes, it’s too glossy, and yes, Vai was not the right guy to be in Whitesnake, but the result is one of those strange one-off’s like Black Sabbath’s Born Again, or Motorhead’s Another Perfect Day. It’s an album that doesn’t quite fit with the back catalogue, but has become a cult favourite.  I have long been a fan of it, simply because Steve Vai is jaw-dropping even when playing pedestrian hard rock.

SLIP OF THE TONGUE_0007For Vai fans, he plays it pretty straight here, not a lot of craziness.  There’s a broken string on one song, and some cool solos, but nothing bizarre like you’ll find on a Vai solo album.   If  you want to hear him just do some serious hard rock and balladeering without the crazy stuff, this is the CD for you. Within the scope of Whitesnake, Vai sets the album on fire; throwing in notes where you didn’t know they could fit, making sounds you didn’t know a guitar could make, and overdubbing a mountain of fills. Just check out opening track “Slip Of The Tongue” for some serious burning, via a 7-string Ibanez guitar through an Eventide harmonizer.

Song-wise, this is mostly hard rock and very little blues. The slick remake of “Fool For Your Loving” (originally from Ready An’ Willing), which Coverdale’s liner notes reveal he didn’t want to do, is inferior to the bluesier, groovier original. “The Deeper The Love”, purportedly a soul song, is actually just a great hard rock ballad with some wonderful Vai licks. The best songs are the epic Zeppelin-esque “Judgement Day”, the aggresive “Wings Of The Storm”, the hit rocker “Now You’re Gone” and the signature Coverdale album closer “Sailing Ships” which has become one of his philosophical classics.

SLIP OF THE TONGUE_0006Among the sparse bonus tracks: the B-side “Sweet Lady Luck”, which is available many times elsewhere now, on both Whitesnake and Steve Vai compilations.  Also, the US single mix (by Chris Lord-Alge) of “Now You’re Gone” is included but many fans would be hard pressed to tell the difference. The promo-only “Vai Voltage Mix” of “Fool For Your Loving” predictably throws in a lot more guitar. (I already had this on a promo single that I acquired for $2, but this is good for fans to have.)  There are two tracks from the 1990 Donington Festival, which would have been a real treat, because these songs (unlike the other bonus tracks) had never been released before. This was the first ever official release of Whitesnake live stuff with Vai. But it was also just a sneak preview of an actual 2 CD/1 DVD release of the full Donington show.  Double dipping sucks!

Then, just like on previous deluxe editions…another live track by a more current edition of Whitesnake! Honestly, this ticks me off for two reasons. One, you can get the new live Whitesnake albums with no difficulty and two, it’s from 15 years later and has nothing to do with Slip Of The Tongue. Yet these new live versions pop up on all these Whitesnake reissues. Why?

The DVD is brief and hardly as satisfying as another CD would be. You get the three original music videos, the two Donington live songs, and then another bunch of unrelated live stuff. Two live tunes from 1997’s Starkers In Tokyo acoustic show, and yet another live track from a more recent Whitesnake live DVD, which is available on its own. Again, I feel this is a bit of a ripoff. It’s nice to have these Starkers tunes on a DVD, but why not release an entire separate DVD of that show? It has nothing to do with Slip Of The Tongue, except that Coverdale played a couple of these songs live.

SLIP OF THE TONGUE_0004The booklet by Coverdale is a real treat, revealing much previously unknown tidbits to tease your friends with. I had no idea that Adrian Vandenberg for example managed to play a little bit of backing guitar on the album. Previous issues of the CD stated that Vai handled all guitar duties, but that has turned out to be false. Also, Coverdale talks a bit about Glenn Hughes, and why you can barely hear him sing on this CD, even though he’s credited on backing vocals.

Frustratingly though, Coverdale also mentioned all those unfinished and unreleased songs from these sessions: “Kill For The Cut”, “Burning Heart”, “Parking Ticket”, and so on. These were all titles that I read about 25 years ago in Hit Parader magazine, and wondered why they didn’t show up on album B-sides. The booklet reveals that they were never finished, but that is no excuse — they should have been presented here as bonus tracks instead of this unrelated live stuff. The Sabbath deluxe editions have tons of unfinished songs on them. So do some of the reissues of the early Whitesnake albums, such as Come An’ Get It.  This CD should have been the same.  Unless David is hanging onto these songs for some kind of anthology box set in the future, I can’t figure out how they arrived at the selections for this reissue CD!  It’s maddening.  Do it right, or not at all.

Decent album, great liner notes, top notch and generous packaging, and great remastering job. Crap bonus material.

3/5 stars

More WHITESNAKE at mikeladano.com:

WHITESNAKE – 1987 (Deluxe edition)
WHITESNAKE – Come An’ Get It (EMI 1981, 2007 remastered)
WHITESNAKE – Forevermore (2011 deluxe edition, Frontiers)
WHITESNAKE – Good to Be Bad (2008 Warner/SPV)
WHITESNAKE – Live At Donnington 1990 (2CD/1DVD) (2011)
WHITESNAKE – Snakebite (1978)
WHITESNAKE – Slide It In (EMI, UK, US mixes, 25th Anniversary Edition)

More VAI too:

VAI – Sex & Religion (1993 Relativity)
ALCATRAZZ – Disturbing the Peace (1985 EMI, 2001 Light Without Heat)
DAVID LEE ROTH – Skyscraper (1988 Warner Bros.)
DAVID LEE ROTH – Sonrisa Salvaje (“Wild Smile”, 1986 Spanish recording, remastered 2007 – Warner)

44 comments

  1. I really like this album. I wasn’t interested in it when it first came out but I when I finally got round to checking it out I enjoyed it. Regardless of whether it fits the band name or not, it’s just great music. But I totally agree that this is a turd of a deluxe edition!

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      1. I just wasn’t really interested in them at that point so I didn’t pay much attention. It took me quite a few years to get round to it.

        I wouldn’t even mind it coming with a bonus DVD if it at least had some decent stuff on it! These are easily some of the worst deluxes out there…

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        1. My only concern with is that it doesn’t look like it would be all that interesting to watch. I’m not a big fan of the CD either to be honest. It would be good if they could maybe do a Kissology type deal and include it in that. I know there was that Donington show filmed for VHS and I’ve seen footage of them with Sykes at Rock In Rio. I remember an 87 era show on TV too. Wishful thinking!

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        2. I like listening to some tracks off Starkers. I say this only because it seems like he/they are baiting the consumer with two videos here…two videos there. It’s like what they did with the Donington tracks on this CD. Just release the whole thing David, and even better if you take Scott’s advice and so a Snakeology DVD. Or like Priest did with Electric Eye.

          Maybe David is just being prudent and saving this stuff for retirement.

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    1. I didn’t buy it when the first single Fool For Your Loving came out, because I preferred the original version of the song. However I did buy it when The Deeper the Love came out. I was 17 and that song got me!

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    1. Maybe it was, but I don’t think the results were objectionable. No it’s not very bluesy, and no it’s also not whacked out like Vai’s solo stuff. But it’s somewhere in between and I like that. It’s a one-off and I think even in 1989, we knew it was only ever going to be a one-off. Especially after Passion and Warfare came out.

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        1. Wings of the Storm has some wicked noodling in it! Lovehunter is the last one I got actually, and I only got it last year. It’s the one I’m least familiar with.

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  2. So Cov now says he didn’t want to re-record Fool For Your Loving? Well, I remember when this album came out Cov said he thought that this version was superior to the original and that he wanted to re-do Whitesnake’s entire past….
    Also, that Burning Heart you mentioned is a Vandenberg song, it’s on their debut and Cov really liked it. I think it was either Whitesnake’s label or their producer that said no to that song especially as Adrian Vandenberg didn’t play a not on the album.

    As an album, this is not bad at all, but just like 1987, it doesn’t do justice to the name Whitesnake at all. As a Whitesnake album (some people called them Vai-tesnake….), I think it’s sad. Also, with this album, they really tried to record 1987 all over again. Think about it, a new remake, Now You’re Gone – Here I Go Again, The Deeper The Love – Is This Love, Wings Of The Storm – Gimme All Your Love, Judgement Day – Still Of The Night, Kittens Got Claws – Bad Boys…. Sorry, but these things never work and this album totally failed so there you go.

    In my eyes, Whitesnake died after Slide It In. I like their recent two albums a lot, but when 1987 came out, I was so disappointed I could cry – Whitesnake were my absolute favourite band back in 1984.

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    1. Jon how is Burning Heart? I have never heard it, just heard OF it. Yeah, it makes total sense to exclude that song since Adrian was unable to perform on it.

      However it SHOULD have been included on a deluxe like this, rough demo or not.

      I wasn’t aware of Whitesnake yet in 1984, so I have that different perspective. I do remember Gil Moore of Triumph was a huge fan of Slide It In, and that was when I first kind of paid attention. Like, “Hmm. If Gil Moore says it blew him away I have to hear it.” I got it for Christmas in 87 or 88, I can’t remember exactly. However it was one of those shitty EMI cassettes that were made in Canada, and they were total garbage. All my old Maiden tapes were unlistenable and so were my Whitesnakes. I didn’t really get to enjoy Slide It In, or 1987, until much later when I got them on CD. That was really in many regards the first time I really heard them.

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      1. I’m reliving my youth atm and have just stumbled across S.O.T.T after a 30 year hiatus. To be honest, I only knew of the 1987 album – I guess living in Australia at that time did that to you. We only had the live concerts and rock magazines like Metal Edge to follow these bands by. I have only found Sailing Ships in the past two weeks, and it is an amazing song. The story I’ve heard is that Adrian wrote it on an acoustic guitar for his Mum, and the band turned it into what it became on the album. Every band has to have an masterpiece, and I consider Sailing Ships Whitesnake’s masterpiece. I’m not much into the rest of the album otherwise, however, I do like Fool For Your Lovin’ and The Deeper The Love, which I much prefer to Is This Love. I could never do Is This Love. I’ve just bought the 1987 super deluxe edition (I know, but better late than never though, right?!), an I look forward to seeing what the 30th anniversary of Slip Of The Tongue presents! cheers from Australia!

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  3. The debut Vandenberg is killer a 5/5…..there second album Heading For A Storm is sides 3 and 4 to the debut but it falls short! The third Alibi just wasn’t keen on it but the debut man was awesome..Back On My Feet….Wait (til the shit hits the fan)….Ready For You…. Your Love Is In Vain..man it’s one solid debut…..check it out Mike!

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    1. I must disagree with you here. Never understood the praise of Vandenberg’s debut. I like Alibi the best – not a bad track here, but sure, it was their most commeercial work, I guess. Heading For A Storm was really good as well. The debut is not bad, but I would rate it decent at the most. 5/10 from me.

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  4. Now Slip Of The Tongue..umm well first day buyer here back in 89….first thoughts I liked it at first as time went on,lost interest too much Vai Eat Em style guitar in a hard blues band…..preferred Slide It In and the Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City live album.
    Don’t get me wrong I love Vai on the two Dave albums but the SOTT not as much the songs are good but I dunno…sumthin missing for me off that album but Now Your Gone man Mike I have not seen that vid since like 91…..hahaha…good post and review……
    Geez I may to dig this one out and give it a spin……..

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    1. I love that shot in the video of Coverdale getting the vaccination in his bum! Now that HMO is on speaking terms with David Coverdale, maybe he can ask him about it.

      I love that Ain’t No Love live album Deke. I only got it last year but I kicked myself for not buying it sooner.

      Story about that album — my buddy Bob and I were checking out the music in a Dutch Boy store. I don’t know if you remember Dutch Boy. Anyway EMI had reissued all the old Whitesnake tapes, and we’d never seen them before. Bob was skeptical it was the same band. He picked up Aint’ No Love in the Heart of the City and pointed at Mickey Moody and said, “That guy doesn’t look like he’s in Whitesnake.” Funny from the perspective of 1987/88.

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        1. Oh probably. But something in my memory told me they had their own pop and chips store brand, like Compliments. I could be very wrong about that. It’s been YEARS since I even thought of the place.

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        2. That could very well be, I was very young. I have memories of a lot of food and drink that I don’t know the names of anymore. But I do remember Pop Shop Pop! Remember them?

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  5. Wow, you’d think that if they were gonna go to all the trouble of making up a Deluxe Edition, they’d actually make it Deluxe. Shame. Oh well, it just means they get to wait ten years and then re-release it ll over again with a few of the tracks you wanted this time around, right? Right! This is called Retirement Planning., making sure he can maintain the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed well into his golden years. Ahem.

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    1. Next MONTH? Right on. You know that I will be getting that.

      You know what else Deke, that Deep Purple live set never arrived. I’ve been trying to contact the DPAS but their email is bouncing back. I’m going to have to phone them. Shitty.

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  6. Late to yer party here but enjoyable review and comments here…

    Firstly, re the Deluxe Slip, very disappointing for the reasons you’ve already touched on, should’ve contained unreleased material and live footage from recent shows are of no interest whatsoever. However the biggest issue IMO is the dull lifeless remastering, almost like they were attempting to give the record a more 87 sound but by doing so they sacrificed the fun and excitement of the original recording.

    I think the likes and dislikes for this record really come down to ones love or hate for Vai’s contributions. Count me in the like camp, while would love to hear the original Vandenberg recordings (another addition the Deluxe could have benefited from), think for its time Vai made this record come alive in a time OTT was required. Personally think Vai’s solo in the title track alone is one of his best, managing to bring ’emotion’ to said solo work is a rare thing! Sure it didn’t match up to its predecessor but not entirely convinced a 3 million plus seller (even if a lot of that was less about merit but due to name) is a failure as such ;)

    Because the songs, while as already rightly mentioned above, mirroring those of the 87 songs, were all fine and quite surprising just how good some of them were considering such significant changes in the bands lineup. Deeper The Love, Wings Of The Storm, the title track, Judgment Day, Now Your Gone, the epic beauty of Sailing Ships…

    A close person to me recently summarized the appreciation for this record (regardless our love for those earlier records); ‘DESPITE ITS SILLINESS, SLIP OF THE TONGUE WAS FOR ITS ERA, THE VERY BEST, LIFE AFFIRMING LIVE-FOR-THE-DAY ALBUM THAT BREAKS IT DOWN TO HAVING FUN AND LOOKING FOR LOVE’.

    Couldn’t have said it better and yeah, a lot of the lyrical trite aside, Slip has always served as a cool escape ;)

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