What’s the year again? You’ll want to check, because David Coverdale just released the best Whitesnake album since the 1980s. Swollen with fresh song ideas, this ‘Snake has more bite. Maybe it’s the unleashing of Reb Beach or the new contributions of Joel Hoekstra. Whatever the cause, Flesh & Blood is sheer nirvana for fans of classic hard rock and technical guitar playing. The album is evidence that this could be the best lineup David’s had since Steve Vai. For guitar geeks, there are lead break credits for each song, a-la Judas Priest.
“Good to See You Again” is an ideal opener and you could hear it working that way live. David then assures you it’s “Gonna Be Alright”, on a slick number with a darker vibe and major hooks — almost more 90s Queensryche than Whitesnake, but with a good time in mind. “Shut Up & Kiss Me”, the lead single, shows that David isn’t afraid to get sleazy even in his senior years. It’s good time party rock, expertly delivered. A clear choice for single.
Going heavy, “Hey You (You Make Me Rock)” grooves like the ‘Snake you remember. The soloing here will make you wet your pants. “But it’s not John Sykes!” scream the unbelievers. Well, check out “Always & Forever” for a hint of that Thin Lizzy regality. It’ll bring you back to the days of Jailbreak but with David instead of Phillip. Then comes the first ballad: “When I Think of You (Color Me Blue)” Reminiscent of “The Deeper the Love”? There are many who love ballads — more power to ’em! This is a good one. Things get greasier on “Trouble is Your Middle Name”. Pedal to the metal — not sure where David is getting the fuel from, but it’s potent.
Halfway through now, it’s the title track “Flesh & Blood” sounding a lot like Slip of the Tongue era ‘Snake. Think something like “Slow Poke Music”. It leads perfectly into “Well I Never”, soulful but dark and heavy. Amazing stuff. Another ballad, “Heart of Stone”, brings to mind the glory of Coverdale-Page. This is heavy stuff for a ballad, loaded with integrity and delivered expertly by the master. Then it’s the bluesy boogie of “Get Up”, a song clearly designed to get asses shaking, and air guitars a-picking. One more ballad: “After All” is pleasantly acoustic, and an
appropriate respite from electric shreddery.
The final song of the main 13 track songlist is an epic: “Sands of Time”. David explored Arabic sounds before on “Judgement Day”, and this is another foray into the exotic. Something about those scales automatically make a song huge in scope. “Sands of Time” is really impressive, and Reb & Joel compliment it with the perfect solos.
There are two bonus tracks on the deluxe CD. The first is a callback to early Whitesnake. “Can’t Do Right for Doing Wrong” sounds like the kind of blues David was playing in the 1970s. It’s sheer delight hearing him revert to pure bluesy ‘Snake. Lastly it’s “If I Can’t Have You”, a good if unremarkable song after all this epic madness.
Is that all? Of course not; David Coverdale is known for giving value to the fans. There’s a DVD with different mixes and videos too. This disc sounds huge. The bass — woah! First: “Shut Up & Kiss Me”, the video “classic Jag” version. Because David is driving the Jaguar from “Here I Go Again”, obviously. It’s Whitesnake on a small stage, in a club, up close and personal. Unsurprisingly the “Club Mix” of the same is just the video without the Jag.
Three remixes are presented in hi-res. “Shut Up & Kiss Me” is the “video mix”; nice to have a clean audio version of that. To hear the differences will require further investigation (clapping at the end aside). An impressive “X-tended mix” of “Gonna Be Alright” is pretty cool. Last is a “radio mix” of “Sands of Time”, which is strangely longer than the album version. Unusual for a radio mix. All the remixes are slightly longer.
Japanese customers got one exclusive bonus track, an “Unzipped” mix of “After All”. It doesn’t have any of the other bonuses. That CD is in the mail and when it arrives we’ll review it too.
Finally, the DVD contains a 15 minute “behind the scenes” of the making of the album. David reveals that The Purple Album was intended to be his last. The passion returned and he followed it. Sounds like beautiful women are still inspiring to him. As far as the album goes, you’ll notice the background vocals are quite thick. David says that all the Whitesnake members…all but Tommy Aldridge anyway…are capable lead vocalists in their own right. All six band members get their chance to speak.
This is an album you’ll be enjoying all summer. Dig it.