david coverdale

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)

REVIEW: Coverdale/Page – Coverdale/Page (1993)

COV PAGE_0001COVERDALE-PAGE:  Coverdale-Page (1993 Geffen)

Following the demise of Whitesnake and the failure of Zeppelin to mount a 1991 tour in support of their first box set, it was almost inevitable what happened next. It was something that many Zeppelin fans feared. Lead Snake David Coverdale, who was once derided as “David Coverversion” by Robert Plant, joined Plant’s erstwhile bandmate Jimmy Page in a new supergroup. Geffen’s John Kalodner (John Kalodner) helped facilitate this move which should have generated sales over 10 million units. Unfortunately another thing also happened in 1991: grunge.

The shame of it is that Coverdale-Page is a stunning rock album.   For years it haunted my bargain bins, simply because of the hard rock stigma that permeated the 1990’s.  Many fans refused to listen to it, others simply chose to mock superficial elements of it, such as Coverdale’s man-shrieks.  The fact that Page was looking and sounding great should be enough to warrant multiple listens by any serious rock fan.  He hadn’t released any new material since 1988’s Outrider.  As for Coverdale, it was a chance to get back to his bluesy rock roots, something he expressed a desire to do shortly after Whitesnake’s dissolution.

The studio band weren’t hacks either.  Ricky Phillips had played bass with Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain in Bad English, and he’s been in Styx for ages now.  Drummer Denny Carmassi was in Montrose (that’s him on the cover of the classic 1973 self-titled record) among many stellar bands, and he later did a stint in Whitesnake itself.  Coverdale and Page co-produced the album with veteran Mike Fraser.

Finally, the most important elements were also in place:  the songs.  11 songs, most in the 5-6 minute range, make up Coverdale-Page.  Those expecting or even hoping for a Zeppelin album were bound to be disappointed.  Despite the “Coverversion” nickname, Cov the Gov is his own person and persona.  Singing over Pagey’s classic Zeppish riffs does not a Zeppelin make.  Rather, Page and Coverdale comingle over their common ground, and naturally there are elements that have a Whitesnake aura.  To expect otherwise would be folly.

“Shake My Tree” was the perfect opener.  Pagey’s tricky little licks have that familiar sound, immediately.  Then the great lothario Cov the Gov starts howlin’…the stage was set within the first minute of the album.  The closest comparison I can think of would be “Slow An’ Easy” in terms of overall vibe.  Just replace Moody’ slide guitar with Jimmy’s intricate chicken pickin’.  David’s lyrics were as naughty as ever.  It must have burned Robert Plant’s ass to have to sing it when he reunited with Jimmy later on himself.  He seemed to be freestyling it quite a bit with David’s lyrics, barely sticking to the words at all!

“Waiting On You” would have been a radio-ready single.  It has that kind of smoking hard rock riff, a killer of a chorus, and great vocals.  Coverdale’s no poet, but I dig his words.  “Ever since I started drinkin’, my ship’s been slowly sinkin’, so tell me what a man’s supposed to do.”  Well, let me tell you David.  1) Drinking and boating is against the law, just like drinking and driving.  2) Put on your goddamn life vest!

I hesitate to call “Take Me A Little While” a ballad.  I mean, it is a ballad, but it’s also a pretty good bluesy workout for David.  It’s a little classier than the average “power ballad”, because hey…it’s Jimmy Page.  It doesn’t sound like other ballads by other bands, because not too many bands have Jimmy Page.  His playing and writing are unlike anyone else’s, he is one of the most recognizable musicians in rock and roll.

“Pride And Joy” was the first single, and what a single it was.  It starts off swampy and acoustic, before Jimmy’s big Les Paul announces its presence with some big chords.  Then David’s back in lothario-land, seducing “daddy’s little princess, Momma’s pride and joy.”  Despite the lyrics, the song’s still a stunner.  “Over Now” is also cool; a thinly veiled attack on Tawny Kitaen.

You told me of your innocence,
An’ I believed it all,
But your best friend is your vanity,
And the mirror on the wall.

It doesn’t get any nicer from there, but musically this is one of the most Zeppelin-ish songs.  While you can’t compare it to any specific song in the Zeppelin oeuvre, but it’s there in that slow relentless drum beat, the orchestration, and Pagey’s unorthodox guitar.

The closest thing to filler on Coverdale-Page is “Feeling Hot”.  It’s not outstanding, but it does show off the faster side of Jimmy’s playing.  It’s akin to “Wearing and Tearing” but with naughtier lyrics.  Once again it is Jimmy’s playing that I’m tuned in to.  That continues with “Easy Does It” which begins acoustically.  Like most acoustic moments on the album (and like Zeppelin), Jimmy’s guitar is recorded in layers, giving it real heft.  This all changes halfway through the song, when Jimmy’s Les Paul once again takes center stage.  Then it transforms into a bluesy prowl.

Possibly the most commercial song is “Take A Look At Yourself”.  Not a bad song, but definitely the most “pop rock”.  It’s probably closest to a Whitesnake song such as “The Deeper The Love”.  Had the year been 1990 or even 1991, “Take A Look At Yourself” would have been a top charting single everywhere.  David seems to have cheered up with new found love here.  However the heartbreak is not over.  “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is about as earnest as it gets.  At 8 minutes, it’s also the most ambitious song.  It’s the centerpiece of the album.  It sounds at once like it’s the most sincere song, showcasing some of Jimmy Page’s best post-Zeppelin guitar work.   As for David, he’s never sung better.

“Absolution Blues” begins similarly to “In The Evening”.  Fading in are layers of atmospheric guitars as only Jimmy plays them.  These give way to the fastest, heaviest song on the album.  It’s also one of my favourites.  You you can hear the elements of Jimmy and David separately, but working together.  The song goes through numerous changes before returning to that riff.  If you thought Jimmy Page had already written every great riff in Led Zeppelin, think again.  It’s “Black Dog” sped up to ludicrous speed.

Album closer “Whisper A Prayer For the Dying” is as cheerful and uplifting as the title alludes.  It’s has an epic quality and length like “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, but this time the lyrics are less personal and more topical.  David laments the innocent casualties of modern warfare, and refers to politicians as “bodyguards of lies”.  While certainly not profound, it’s refreshing to hear Coverdale change the bloody subject away from the female of the species every now and again.  Profound or not, I’m certain that it was heartfelt, and musically it kicks ass.  It’s also a perfect album closer for a dark and brooding record like this.  So there.

Hugh Syme (Rush) did the artwork.  Say what you will about the bland cover itself, but I like the way he used the “merge” sign much like the “object” was in the artwork for Presence.  And like many Zeppelin albums, there are no pictures of the artists anywhere.

The year 1993 was not a kind one to singers of Coverdale’s ilk.  Most of his competition had been replaced by Chris Cornell, Eddie Vedder, and Kurt Cobain.  One way or the other, the Coverdale-Page tour was not doing enough business and the plug was pulled.  David has since mentioned that he and Page had more songs, enough to get started on a second album.  He’s also expressed a desire to release those songs on some kind of deluxe edition reissue.  I hope that happens.  I’d buy Coverdale-Page again.  It would only be the third time.

4.5/5 stars

More COVERDALE at mikeladano.com:

Snakebite – Come An’ Get It – Slide It In – Whitesnake (1987) – Live at Donnington – Good to be Bad – Forevermore

More ZEPPELIN too:

Self-titled box setBox Set 2The Complete Studio Recordings

REVIEW: Whitesnake – 1987 (Deluxe edition)

Whitesnake reviews at mikeladano.com:

Snakebite – Come An’ Get It – Slide It In – Live at Donnington – Good to be Bad – Forevermore

1987WHITESNAKE – 1987 (2007 20th Anniversary Deluxe edition)

I remember sitting at home watching MuchMusic in July of ’87. The Power Hour was on and they played “Here I Go Again”. It was my first time hearing Whitesnake and I hit “record” on the VCR.

This was and still is a great album, although it was a lot heavier than I expected back then. Also, if you’re from the 80’s you’ll remember this, the cassette was so tight that it always played slow in my tape deck. So it always sounded frickin’ awful for me and it wasn’t until I picked it up on CD sometime in the 90’s that I really gave this album a chance.

It’s overproduced all to hell, even excessive by the standards of the time. But my God it does some crunch to it. John Sykes on guitar saw to that. Neil Murray remains on bass, but buried inaudibly beneath a very dense mix. Aynsley Dunbar subbed in on drums, a very busy drummer, but it actually works. There are a few moments, particularly during “Crying In The Rain”, where he overdoes it, but in general he was exactly the kind of drummer needed to elevate the album to this caliber.

If you’re looking for the radio hits, they are pretty much all on this album, so just click “buy” on whatever site you choose.  Or visit your local brick-and-mortar and see if they carry it.  In any case this album goes beyond just the four hit singles. The aforementioned “Crying In The Rain” (a re-recording from Saints An’ Sinners, same as “Here I Go Again”) is a crucially important album track, as is “Don’t Turn Away”, a rocker/ballad closer that has some of Coverdale’s best singing. But wait, there’s more. The album has included the addition of the two songs that are usually only available on the UK version: “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again” (awesome fast rocker, totally album worthy) and “Looking For Love” (ballad). I like what they did here — they maintained the track order of the US version (my preferred version) and put in the two UK tracks within the tracklist (tracks 7 & 9). It just works better in my opinion to have “Don’t Turn Away” at the end of the album.

Then I hate what they did next. Instead of giving you era B-sides or live songs, they stick on four live versions by a later version of Whitesnake, readily available on a common live album. (Live versions of the four big singles.) What could have been included instead: the “single version” of “Here I Go Again” which is a completely different mix! The single version of “Give Me All Your Love”, the only recording to feature guitar playing from Vivian Campbell (the solo)!  Or hell, even live recordings from the era?  Anything but these live duplicates from a much later time.

There is a bonus DVD included. The four music videos and then, again…the same four damn live songs!  Also by a later Whitesnake, from a common live DVD. Jesus Murphy!  Booklet and liner notes are decent at least, but not enough to justify me owning this any longer.  My recommended edition: Here I Go Again: The Whitesnake Collection (2CD). This contains the US versions of all three Geffen-era Whitesnake albums, all the pertinent B-sides except one*, the two UK bonus tracks from this album, and the aforementioned single mixes.

4/5 stars. Great album, but this reiusse could have been so much better.

CD track list				DVD video list
1. Still of the Night			1. Still of the Night
2. Give Me All Your Love		2. Here I Go Again 87
3. Bad Boys		                3. Is This Love
4. Is This Love				4. Give Me All Your Love
5. Here I Go Again 87			5. Give Me All Your Love (live)
6. Straight for the Heart		6. Is This Love (live)
7. Looking for Love		        7. Here I Go Again (live)
8. Children of the Night		8. Still of the Night (live)
9. You're Gonna Break My Heart Again
10. Crying in the Rain
11. Don't Turn Away
12. Give Me All Your Love (live)
13. Is This Love (live)
14. Here I Go Again (live)
15. Still of the Night (live)

* Still missing on any CD is the 1987 remix of “Standing in the Shadow” from the “Is This Love” single.

WTF Search Terms: More Rock and Roll edition

WTF Search Terms XII: More Rock and Roll edition

“Here We Go Again” with more WTF Search Terms!  Everything seen below is an actual search term, that a real person clicked to somehow get here to mikeladano.com.  As David Coverdale might say, “Here’s some rock and roll for ya!”

  1. jon mikl thor arnold the beatles greatness (One of these things is not like the other)
  2. russ parish is god (Good, yes, God, no.)
  3. buyers for kiss albulms (What you got?)
  4. taking the rush blu ray disc out of moving pictures deluxe edition (It’s not that difficult, guy.)
  5. queensryche take hold of the flame cheap trick lyrics (Again these things are not the same.)
  6. used t-120 vhs recording tapes for kids sing along (OK…)
  7. cherone nice good guy (I wouldn’t know?)
  8. marilyn manson sucks himself (No!  How many fucking times do I have to tell you!)
  9. iron maiden gone too soft (Bullshit.)
  10. the demon code prevents me from declining a rock off challenge lyrics (ACCEPTED!)

If you enjoyed this and would like to read more WTF Search Terms, please click here!

DEMON GROHL

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Perks and Tit (Live in San Diego 1974)

DEEP PURPLE:  Perks and Tit  (2003 Purple Records/Sonic Zoom)
Re-released in 2007 as Live in San Diego 1974  

Lineup:  Deep Purple Mk III – Ritchie Blackmore – David Coverdale – Glenn Hughes – Jon Lord – Ian Paice

I love bootlegs.  If you don’t, you won’t like Perks and Tit.  Recorded in San Diego, April 9, 1974, Deep Purple are loose.  Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar is imperfectly awesome.  I love every moan and squeal he wrings from that neck.  And only on a bootleg will you hear Glenn Hughes say something like, “This one’s not being taped, so we can say and do what we wanna do!”

The bootleggers were taping that night, preserving this remarkable night of Deep Purple prowess.  A record was released in 1975, and over the years took on different forms and configurations.  Sonic Zoom then released a definitive version of the show on CD, with hard to find onstage banter.

The great news is that Sonic Zoom were able to trump previous CD bootlegs, sourced from vinyl, and go straight to a soundboard master tape.  Apparently Glenn was wrong!  The sound is loud but only occasionally fuzzy.  The vocals are clear, as is Blackmore’s guitar.  You can make out Glenn’s bass a little bit, but on the whole this is a very listenable and enjoyable CD release.

Highlights for me included the rarely played “Lay Down, Stay Down”.  I don’t know what Ritchie did to his guitar there in the solo section, but he went from volcanic eruption noises to velvety smooth picking in like 10 seconds.  The man is unreal!  He and the whole band groove the shit out of “Might Just Take Your Life”, too.  Not to mention his brilliant solo intro to the extended blues, “Mistreated”.  Burn was a brand new album, as Glenn keeps reminding the crowd, and the first four songs are all from Burn!  But when they get to “Smoke”, Ritchie plays with the riff in unfamiliar but really catchy and appropriate ways.

The six-track collection is unfortunately only the first half the night’s set.  The second half, if it was ever recorded at all, could not be found.  So the CD ends on an odd note, a Jon Lord organ solo.  On the other hand, with Jon now gone forever, it’s kind of apropos, no?

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition)

DEEP PURPLE – Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition, 2010 originally 1975, EMI)

For those keeping score, now every single album from the original run of Deep Purple 1968-1976 has been remastered with some sort of deluxe edition. Come Taste The Band is the final album of this series. Deep Purple imploded shortly after and the band was no more until Perfect Strangers in 1983.

Personally I have always liked Come Taste The Band right from first listen. However, I never heard the album until 1996 so the idea of a great Purple album without Richie Blackmore was not foreign to me. With open ears you can really appreciate what Deep Purple were up to on this powerfully rocking album. It has a solid groove, a much harder sound than Stormbringer and some greasy unconventional guitar playing from Tommy Bolin. Everybody is playing amazingly, even the coked-out Glenn Hughes who just rips it to shreds on “Gettin’ Tighter”, my favourite track. Paicey is awesome on said breakneck track.

Really though there are no losers on Come Taste The Band. Every song is incredible right from the opener of the ferocious “Comin’ Home” to the philosophical “You Keep On Movin'”. Another personal favourite is the sliding groover “Dealer”, a tale of warning from David Coverdale to Glenn Hughes about his habit. Bolin takes his first and only studio Deep Purple lead vocal on the bridge.

IMG_00000713As with all previous special editions, the liner notes are excellent, revealing, and loaded with pictures. One fact I didn’t know: The band were going to kick out Hughes if he didn’t kick the coke.

Bonus material is present. The single edit of “You Keep On Movin'” is tacked on to the end of disc one, but this is previously available on such albums as Singles A’s and B’s. The second disc contains the entire album remixed by Kevin Shirley. Shirley is truly a great mixer. It’s hard to discern what he did differently here, except the songs are a bit more punchy. Some now continue on past their original fade points, revealing never before heard playing from the band, right to the end of the song. This was done on previous remasters such as Machine Head and I like this touch a lot.

Two previously unreleased tracks are included. These tracks will be worth the price of purchase alone to Purple collectors. “Same In L.A.” is a nearly complete song with lead vocals and lyrics. If it had been included on the original album, it would easily have been the most pop, it sounds more suited to Stormbringer material. “Bolin Paice Jam” is also unreleased — not even heard before on Days May Come and Days May Go or the limited edition 1420 Beachwood Drive albums. This is a massive, fiery jam capturing the best of both players. Difficult to understand why this was not included on the aforementioned two compilations, but it’s just awesome and I’m glad it’s out.

Once again, Simon Robinson has outdone himself with the final Deep Purple remaster of this series. These albums, while expensive and difficult to obtain (mine took almost two months to ship) are well worth it to the faithful.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Whitesnake – Forevermore (2011)

This has become a bit of a series I guess, unintentionally!  Here are my Whitesnake reviews thus far:

SnakebiteCome An’ Get ItSlide It InLive at DonningtonGood to be Bad

WHITESNAKE – Forevermore (2011 deluxe edition, Frontiers)

Considering that this band has housed such monster players as Steve Vai and John Sykes among many others, I take great risk with my opening statement, but here goes: I think Forevermore, the newest album by Whitesnake, is the most guitar-heavy of their entire career. Indeed, on first listen, one is blown away by the extremely well recorded antics of Reb Beach and Doug Aldrich. These guys can wail.

And wail they do, the opener “Steal Your Heart Away” (not to be confused with “Steal Away” from Snakebite) just roars with bluesy chords, fast fretwork, and slippery slides.  The guitars are greasy! And that’s just the opening track.

FOREVERMORE_0004You can definitely hear an urge from Coverdale and Co. to keep everything loosely based on the origins of Whitesnake. You get a lot of bluesy rock, a lot of soul singing from one of the best there is, and some serious groove. On the whole, this album sounds like a growth from the last album, the solid but safe Good To Be Bad. Good To Be Bad was a decent album, but very “safe”. It did not stray much if at all from the classic Whitesnake 1987 sound, complete with guitar solos from the John Sykes School of Axe Wizardry. Now Whitesnake are stretching out more, and dropping a lot of the Sykes-isms. If the last album was a debut album of sorts, this one definitely sounds like the more confident second album.

David is singing great. His voice is as marvelously rich as it was on the Coverdale-Page album back in 1993. And speaking of Coverdale-Page, some of these songs definitely bring that great album to mind.

The only thing that I really don’t like about Whitesnake today are the lyrics. David’s a capable lyricist, and songs like the oldie “Sailing Ships” are really well written. When David, at his current age, starts singing about girls that way that he sings about girls, I feel mildly queezy inside.  But then, on the album closer “Forevermore”, David returns to his philosophical lyrical side, a side I prefer.  (And it’s a great song.)

It is what it is, and musically this is just a freakin’ great album. My current fave track is “All Out Of Luck” which sports this nifty space age blues metal riff. You will find your own favourites too. Fans of both 70’s and 80’s ‘Snake should find something to enjoy here.

FOREVERMORE_0003

There’s a bonus DVD:  A music video, some making-ofs, and a track by track commentary by DC himself.

There are bonus tracks on my “deluxe edition”, all remixes and alternate versions. Just a nice bonus, not essential for the enjoyment of this album. The “Evil Drums” mix of “My Evil Ways” is a little crazy.  Of note, Japan also got an exclusive bonus of their own, a “Swamp Mix” of “Whipping Boy Blues”. Like our bonus tracks, it’s just a bonus, not essential to the flavour of the album. Track it down if you’re a collector. I’ve heard it, it’s cool.

4.5/5 stars

FOREVERMORE_0002

REVIEW: Whitesnake – Good to Be Bad (2 CD & Japanese versions)

Here’s my second review from the The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale! It was Japanese import Heaven!

For the last installment of this series, click here.

WHITESNAKE  – Good to Be Bad (2008 Warner/SPV)

Whitesnake disbanded in 1990.  Coverdale did his album with Jimmy Page, but that didn’t prove to last either.  Although they’d started writing for a second album, the affair ended and David Coverdale assembled a new Whitesnake for a Greatest Hits tour in 1994.  This reformation eventually led to an album in 1997 called Restless Heart (billed as “David Coverdale and Whitesnake”.  This R&B flavoured album, a personal favourite, did not resonate with some fans of 80’s ‘Snake.

After another hiatus, and a solo album (2000’s Into the Light), David once again formed a new group of ‘Snakes, a mixture of old and new members.  After several years of touring (and lineup changes), the long awaited new Whitesnake album, Good to Be Bad, hit the shelves in 2008.  Former Dio guitarist Doug Aldrich and Winger’s Reb Beach had been a formidable guitar duo since 2002.

GOOD TO BE BAD_0003

Similarly to his partnership with Adrian Vandenberg, David has retained his writing style of co-writing with just one co-writer; in this case, Aldrich. It seems to be evident that the guys have gone for a John Sykes guitar sound and style.  You can certainly hear a lot of trademark sounds and tricks that Sykes used to do, that gave the 1987 album such a cool sound.  This isn’t to say that they don’t play plenty of their own style too, but the retro stuff is frequent.

So similar is the direction of this album to 1987, that you can play “name that tune” with all the new songs:
“Can You Hear The Wind Blow” for example directly references moments on 1987, right down to those flares that Sykes used to do.  “All I Want, All I Need” equals “Is This Love” Part Deux.  Basically, every song on Good To Be Bad is a mash-up of songs from Coverdale Page1987 and Slip Of The Tongue, and you can hear the references quite distinctly. “A Fool in Love” is “Crying in the Rain”.  “Lay Down Your Love” is “Shake My Tree”, without Jimmy Page.  Throw in a little “Kashmir” during “‘Til The End Of Time” (which seems to be based off “Till The Day I Die” from Come An’ Get It) too.

Having said that, despite the lack of originality, Good To Be Bad is still a very enjoyable listen, and a very welcome return. A world without David Coverdale’s voice is like a world without crème brûlée.  That voice is in fine form, perhaps even stronger than it was on 1997’s Restless Heart. The album has a lot more life to it than Restless Heart, although it does lack that album’s subtlety and R&B moments. The band play great, kicking it on every tune, even the ballads. The melodies are strong and memorable.  It’s just…too contrived.

The bonus live disc is the the Canadian special edition is highlights from Live: In The Shadow Of The Blues. No big deal.  It’s nice to hear Whitesnake playing “Burn/Stormbringer” from David’s Deep Purple days, and cool to hear the old 70’s classics.

The real cool version to have is the Japanese release with two bonus tracks.  And a sticker!  Can’t forget the sticker.  The bonus tracks are both remixes (a “Doug solo” version of “All For Love”, and a stripped down version of the lovely “Summer Rain”).  For $20, I wasn’t complaining.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition)

STORMBRINGER OUTER FRONT

DEEP PURPLE – Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition, 2009 EMI, originally 1974)

Stormbringer, now available in the gloriously remastered series of Deep Purple special editions, is one of my favourite Purple platters. Now augmented with bonus material, it has finally been given the treatment it deserved. It’s certainly not everybody’s cup of tea, but Stormbringer has earned some begrudging fans over the years.  I for one find it a more enjoyable listen cover to cover than 1974’s Burn.

A lot of fans did not like the funkier, softer direction of the band. You can understand this, of course. A fan who loved In Rock, one of the heaviest records of any decade, could easily be turned off by the radio-ready soul funk of “Hold On”.  Blackmore himself decried the funky direction of the band.

Here’s the good news: Whatever Deep Purple set their minds to, they could do. And they could do it well.

STORMBRINGER CDBlackmore may not have liked the album, and he did take a step back in the mix, (you can barely hear any guitar on “Hold On”).  He could stilll adapt to and play any style. His playing here, while sparse, is sublime. Ian Paice takes to the funky rhythms very comfortably, laying down some excellent grooves. Jon Lord steps up to the forefront, supplying some excellent, funky keys.

There are a few songs that harken back to the past: “Stormbringer”, the title track, sounds as solid as any epic the band had ever composed. It could have been on Burn as easily as this record. In fact, it stands out as being out of place: As the opening track, fans must have been shocked and surprised when the rest of the album was so different.

Another song that has shades of older Purple is “The Gypsy”.   It’s a slow mournful piece, perhaps akin to “Mistreated” from the previous album.  The lyrics are uncharacteristically bleak.

One track showed an interesting glimpse of the future. “Soldier Of Fortune” is an acoustic track which forshadowed much of the music Blackmore would do with Rainbow, and even now with Blackmore’s Night. David Coverdale has performed it live with Whitesnake.  I think it’s one of Richie Blackmore’s finest compositions.

Of the other tunes, “Love Don’t Mean A Thing” is one of the funkiest, and one of the most entertaining.  It’s just fun to listen to.  David and Glenn co-sing this one.  Ritchie’s solo is very understated, but appropriate.  Glenn takes his first solo lead vocal with Deep Purple on “Holy Man”, a soulful ballad.  “You Can’t Do It Right” features probably the funkiest guitar work of Blackmore’s career.  It’s fascinating to listen to, and the band really cooks on this one.  It’s one of the most extreme experiments of this funky Purple period.

As with all the Purple reissues, this has been lovingly remastered. Finally you can discard your original CD, mastered for digital ages ago, but never really letting the subtleties of the music shine. Stormbringer, of all the Deep Purple albums, perhaps has more subtleties to hear due to the quieter nature of the music.

STORMBRINGER DVDBonus material?  Oh yeah, there’s bonus material, in this case four remixes by Glenn Hughes. These remixes don’t replace the original songs, but they do act as a companion piece of sorts. Fresh light is shed on alternate takes incorporated into the mixes, and “Love Don’t Mean A Thing” is extended by over half a minute. “High Ball Shooter” is presented in an early instrumental form as well.

As an added bonus, a second disc has been included. The second disc, exclusive to this edition, is a DVD containing the original 1975 quadrophonic mix of Stormbringer! Nice. Apparently, this disc is to be a limited edition so get yours while you can. I liked quite a bit, myself. As with many quad mixes from the 70’s, the songs often bear noticeable differences from the originals.  Quad was a gimmicky fad, by today’s standards, but listening to it with the benefit of hindsight is quite enjoyable.

Lastly, I must acknowledge the great liner notes. The most entertaining story included is in regards to “Love Don’t Mean A Thing.”  While in Chicago, Ritchie ran across a street busker, who was snapping his fingers singing a song about money.  Blackmore invited him onto Purple’s plane, collected Coverdale and Hughes, and jammed for 20 minutes with this guy who taught them the song and the lyrics.  The band finished the song that became “Love Don’t Mean A Thing”, credited to the entire quintet, because nobody ever bothered to get the busker’s name.

Pick up Stormbringer in this 25th Anniversary Edition, and finally you can feel comfortable discarding your original.

5/5 stars for both the music, and the reissue!

REVIEW: Whitesnake – Snakebite (album)

SNAKEBITE FRONT

WHITESNAKE – Snakebite (1978, released as both album and EP)

You gotta give David Coverdale some kind of credit for name-dropping two of his old Deep Purple Stormbringer classics right there in the first song on this album/EP, “Come On”.

“I’m just a SOLDIER OF FORTUNE,
Must be the GYPSY in me…”

Maybe David just wanted to remind people who he was, that this was not just some “new” band.  Either way, it’s a very solid outing, considerably more enjoyable than David’s first two albums as a solo artist.

SNAKEBITE FRONT BACK

Snakebite was originally a 4 song EP, under the name Whitesnake.  Over here in Canada, I knew it as a full album .  North America stuck on four of the better tunes from David’s solo album, Northwinds, and released it as an LP.

The EP, or side one of the album, was helmed by Purple producer Martin Birch.  He ensured a solid sound, and Coverdale & Whitesnake provided four solid tunes.

The aforementioned “Come On” sounds like a smoove Paul Rodgers prowl, and features three players who would stay through most of Whitesnake’s history: Neil Murray (bass), Bernie Marsden (guitar) and Mickey Moody (guitar). Track two, “Bloody Mary” is driven by a boogie piano, one of the best songs on the album.  My personal favourite of the album, anyway.  It’s just impossible not to move to this one.  David’s as naughty as ever in the lyrics:

“You know that Madam Palm and her five sweet daughters”
Couldn’t give her man what the doctor ordered”

Then Coverdale gets bluesy. “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”, previously a hit for Bobby “Blue” Bland, ended up becoming Whitesnake’s live centerpiece.  On the original EP, it is the last track, its position swapped with “Steal Away”.  “Steal Away” is a another highlight.  Moody’s slide guitar is just pure awesome sauce.  The only thing I dislike is some really cheesy sounding electronic toms.

NORTHWINDSSide two of the LP had the earlier Northwinds material, produced by ex-Purple bassist Roger Glover. Although Mickey Moody plays on these songs, he’s the only future Whitesnake member present. The tunes are decent enough.  “Keep On Giving Me Love” was funky, like the kind of stuff Glenn Hughes was always trying to push on Deep Purple.  It’s not really outstanding until you get to the chorus.  “Only My Soul” however is a stand out. Coverdale has often done these incredible soul-searching pieces, such as Purple’s “Soldier Of Fortune”, and Whitesnake’s later “Sailing Ships”. This time out we’re treated to some very appropriate violin, and Glover on synth.  The side is rounded out by “Queen of Hearts” and “Breakdown”, the raucious rocker written about the final demise of Deep Purple.

Although David Coverdale seemed to still be searching for direction after leaving Purple, the Snakebite album (or EP, whatever you happen to own) is an enjoyable listen from front to back. Some material really showed what David was capable of, and he certainly would deliver in full in the future. Whitesnake diehards should not do without Snakebite, as it provides an interesting set of snapshots as to what Coverdale was up to, between his bouts of fame and glory.

TROUBLEThere are numerous options today to get this music.  Not only is the Snakebite album still in print on CD in North America, but you can now also find the tunes remastered.  The Snakebite EP has been added as bonus tracks to Whitesnake’s debut album, Trouble.  You can also get David’s solo album, Northwinds, remastered with bonus tracks.  Or you could just get ’em on original vinyl!  The choice is yours, but I think any Whitesnake fan would enjoy this Snakebite.

4/5 stars