Formed from the ashes of Deep Purple, David Coverdale's Whitesnake has pretty much been a band in name only since Coverdale is the only constant member of the band. Other members have been Deep Purple's Ian Paice and Jon Lord, future Black Sabbath bassist Neil Murray, ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist John Sykes, ex-Journey drummer Aynsley Dubar, ex-Dio/future Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell, Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo, Adrian Vandenberg, ex-Alcatrazz guitarist Steve Via, and Tommy 'been in just about every band in existence' Aldridge. And those are just the members who are well known. There is also an arsenal of lesser known musicians.
David Coverdale - Whitesnake/Northwinds (Relativity) 1977/1978/1988
1. "Lady" (3:47)
David Coverdale's first two post-Deep Purple solo albums, 1977's White Snake and 1978's Northwinds combined onto a single CD. Musically Coverdale slips back in time sounding a bit more like a trip out of the early 70's. Coverdale mixes a bit of blues, funk, rock and melodic balladry. Not a bad listen, but to be quite frank, this is more for the Whitesnake completist and hard core fans than for everyday listening. Coverdale became a much better writer and was more sure of his direction within a few more releases. Of the two release represented here, "Northwinds" is slightly better than "White Snake." orthwinds was produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover and is anchored by guitarist Micky Moody and keyboardist Tim Hinckley, who would later become members of the band Whitesnake as well. Both of these albums have been re-released over and over again over the years with different covers, track listings, etc.
Whitesnake - Snakebite (Geffen) 1977
1. "Come On"
The first "official" Whitesnake album, although it's so short it's really only an EP. The first four tracks were the first songs recorded by Whitesnake as a band, while tracks 5-8 were recorded for David Coverdale's second solo album. A bluesy affair, not unlike Purple's 'Stormbringer.' The better tracks are actually the four recorded and produced by Martin Birch. The later four are just not to exciting.
Whitesnake - Trouble (Geffen) 1978
1. "Take Me With
Lots of bluesy rockers on this one, although not the hard rock/heavy metal that would begin with "Love Hunter" and certainly not the overtly commercial metal that Whitesnake is now known for. Still, I can't help but enjoy this one, with Coverdale's killer, smooth vox on top of those Purple-esque rockers. Whitesnake's cover of the Beatles 'Day Tripper' is outstanding. Gotta love a song with a talkbox. This one was produced by the legendary Martin Birch and features ex-Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord and future Black Sabbath bassist Neil Murray.
Whitesnake - Love Hunter (Geffen) 1979
1. "Long Way from
This album is remembered more for it's errotic cover than for the actual music contained herein, however, the music certainly isn't bad. Love Hunter was Coverdale's first attempt at a mostly heavy record. The sound is actually a mixture of blues and hard rock, which would continue on several albums to come, before MTV and American success would destroy them. Growing up with this album, I consider it a classic, but to be quite frank, the songwriting is no where near what would come in the near future.
Whitesnake - Ready an' Willing (Polydor/Japan) 1980
1. "Fool for Your
Absolutely one of Coverdale's finest early Whitesnake discs. The album starts off with the explosive "Fool For You Loving", a song the would later be resurrected, re-recorded, and given a pop metal sheen for the band's "Slip of the Tongue" album almost a decade later. I personally like this slightly bluesier version better, although the production values are better on the "S.o.t.T" version. The rest of the album is just as good. "Sweet Talker" is a slick, slide guitar romp, "Ready and Willing" has a killer groove. (TT Quick borrowed this riff for their song "Isolation Booth.") There are several excellent, blues based ballads including "Ain't Gonna Cry" and "Blindman". "Ain't Gonna Cry" has a Zepplin vibe to it, starting off as an acoustic ballad before bursting into a mid-paced rocker. Overall, as I said, this is one of Whitesnake's finest albums, if not their very best.
Whitesnake - Live in the Heart of the City (EMI) 1980
1. "Come On"
'Live in the Heart of the City " is essential to any Deep Purple collector since this disc features not only David Coverdale, Jon Lord and Ian Paice but also two classic Deep Purple numbers; "Mistreated" and "Might Just Take Your Life". For years I had the out-of-print American version of this album, which only features 8 of the 13 tracks featured on this European version. The European version is a compilation of 3 concerts; tracks 1-8 were recorded at two concerts in 1980 and tracks 9-13 were recorded Live at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1978. The material on this CD is all stellar and shows Whitesnake at their creative best, albeit not yet at their most popular.
Whitesnake - Come an' Get It (EMI) 1981
1. "Come an' Get
A lukewarm album in comparison to the rest of the Whitesnake catalogue; not their best and not their worst. Certainly there is some great bluesy rock and roll on this disc, but even after having owned it on record for many years, upon hearing the cd for the first time in a long time, I still could not recall anything from it. That is not to say this album is a total stinker, by any stretch. "Hot Stretch," "Wine, Women and Song," and especially "Child of Babylon" are all fine Coverdale numbers.
Whitesnake - Saints & Sinners (Geffen) 1982
1. "Young Blood"
Depending on who you ask, 'Saints & Sinners' is either the one of the best things to come out of Whitesnake or one of the worst. I'm of the opinion that it sounds like Whitesnake, and they sound like they are at their best. There are tons of energetic, yet bluesy heavy metal numbers on here like "Rough an' Ready," "Bloody Luxury," and "Young Blood." Other favorites are "Crying in the Rain" and the awesome power ballad "Here I go Again," that would later be re-recorded and become a huge hit during the band's big-hair MTV days. As many times as I have heard this excellent version, after being tormented with years of hearing the newer version on the radio/TV I now find it odd to hear the slightly altered lyrics on the 'Saints & Sinners' version. ("Like a hobo I was born to walk alone")
Whitesnake - Slide It In (Geffen) 1983
1. "Slide it In"
"Slide It In" was the first Whitesnake album to be released domestically in the U.S, and the first to feature Thin Lizzy guitar shredder John Sykes. As I recall, however, John Sykes didn't play on the original release of "Slide it In". Rather, after the album was recorded Coverdale fired most of the band and replaced them with younger faces. Apparently he felt this would help them gain some success in America, where heavy metal was beginning to dominate the charts with bands like Quiet Riot and Ozzy's Blizzard of Oz. Geffen Records released a re-recorded version of "Slide It In" with new guitar solos recorded by axe-shredder John Sykes and released the album in the U.S.. It may have been a desperate ploy, but it worked. "Slide It In" gained the band several hits in the U.S in the title track, "Slow an' Easy" and "Love Ain't No Stranger." It also primed America for an even bigger album to come out some three years later. "Slide It In" also gained the band two chart toppers in Europe with "Guilty of Love" and "Give Me More Time." It's also noteworthy to mention that legendary producer Martin Birch engineered and mixed this album.
Despite massive radio and MTV overplay, Whitesnake's self-titled 1987 album is quite good. "Whitesnake" went multi-platinum and remains one of the band's best selling records. This was also the album that had Whitesnake labeled as a "hair band," which of course is not necessarily true. OK, perhaps Coverdale and crew were using a few extra cans of Aqua Net during this time, but that was the look in '87. The music, however, is just pure heavy rock 'n' roll.
"Whitesnake"is driven by the writing skills and guitar work of ex-Thin Lizzy axeman John Sykes. Some of Sykes guitar solos are mind blowing, just take a listen to "Straight for the Heart" for example. Many credit Sykes with Coverdale's success in the mid-80's. For some odd reason however, Dave decided to fire his entire band, which at the time included Sykes, long time bassist Neil Murray and drummer Aynsley Dunbar from Journey. For the tour, Dave formed something of a supergroup which featured ex-Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell, ex-Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo, Adrian Vandenberg and drummer Tommy Aldrige, who at this point was most known for his work with Ozzy Osbourne, Black Oak Arkansas and Pat Travers.
A couple tracks were re-recorded versions of older Whitesnake songs. "Cryin' in the Rain" and "Here I Go Again" were both from the 1982 album "Saints & Sinners". "Here I Go Again ('87)" reached number 1on the charts in the U.S.. "Still of the Night" is a monster song co-penned by Sykes and Coverdale. The song has a massive hook and was an MTV staple for years. The other big hit off the album is the super-sappy power ballad "Is This Love". "Is This Love" became a major crossover hit for the band, getting airplay on rock radio, as well as pop and softer music format stations. It is the one song on this disc I could care less about, but then that is what the skip button on the CD player is for.
This album was released in Europe as "1987" and as "Serpens Albus" in Japan, both with different track listings.
Whitesnake - Slip of the Tongue (Geffen) 1989
1. "Slip of the Tongue"
This was it, the first album by the Supergroup Whitesnake: Steve Via, Rudy Sarzo, Adrian Vandenberg and drummer Tommy Aldridge. Of couse, from the popularity of the last album alone, this one was almost guaranteed to be a blockbuster, and this certainly proved to be the case since the album went double platinum. Hi-tech, metallic, flashy, and hair to the sky. A few high and mighty rockers in "Kittens Got Claws," Wings of the Storm" and the title track. "Fool For Your Loving" sounds very similar to the classic Whitesnake mid-paced rocker sound in both style and lyrical approach. Of course, what would an 80's hair band be without their useless power ballad to sell them to radio? This one's got two: "Now Your're Gone" and "The Deeper the Love."
One thing I always found odd about this disc is how un-Via like the guitar work is. When Steve was a part of David Lee Roth and Alcatrazz, he certainly made his presence known. He's flashy, he's technical and he has a unique styule. On this album Vai, who is credited with all the guitarwork, sounds more like ex-Whitesnake axeman John Sykes than he does the king of flash. Several rumors actually went around that said that it was really Sykes who is the uncredited man behind most of the riff and rhythm work on this disc. Accordingly Steve Via was brought in later to add solos, guitar squeels and other bits. Never have found any confirmation of this rumor, except in a small write-up in Martin Popoff's book in which he states the same thing that I just stated.
It's also intersting to note that most of these songs were written by Adrian Vandenberg, despite the fact that he didn't play on any of them. "Fool for Your Loving" originally appeared on the Ready an' Willing album and was re-recorded for this album.
Whitesnake - Restless Heart (EMI) 1997
1. "Don't Fade Away"
Whitesnake has always been, more or less, the David Coverdale band. "Restless Heart" is no exception. Backing up David's pipes this time around is guitar hero Adrian Vandenberg, whose name also appears on Whitesnake's "Slip of the Tongue" CD. Despite Vandenberg's appearance and some artwork that echoes back to Whitesnake's multi-platinum, self-titled album, I really didn't expect them to repeat the sound of those 80's hits. Actually, I didn't really know what to expect with this CD as I hadn't really read any hype about it before it's release. Upon first listen I knew that If anyone had bought "Restless Heart" hoping to hear the glossy pop metal of the band's heyday, they were probably disappointed. Rather, "Restless Heart" does reach back to the Deep Purple influenced, blues based, rock 'n roll of the band's early years. However, this CD is more melodic, bluesy and certainly mellower than any of those late 70's/early 80's records. When the first song, "Don't Fade Away", started I didn't even recognize David Coverdale's voice. It took a few minutes before I began hearing some recognizable characteristics in his style. Like fellow Deep Purple crooner Glenn Hughes, Coverdale is very versitile and easily adapts his voice to the more melodic, bluesy nature of the music here. I was actually impressed with how good David sounds. The guitar work, as would be expected, is very good. I didn't really hear anything overly flashy, although Vandenberg does throw out some choice guitar leads here and there, lending themselves very well to the songs. The one thing I did expect was stellar production and certainly Coverdale and Co. delivered this. Perhaps "Restless Heart" won't break down any commercial doors, but for the Whitesnake fan longing to hear some good rock 'n roll with legend David Coverdale, this CD should satisfy.
1. "Into the Light"
This is David Coverdale's first solo album without the Whitesnake moniker since his departure from Deep Purple in the 70's. However, I don't think David Coverdale will ever escape the Whitesnake sound, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Having said that, however, "Into the Light" certainly doesn't sound like Whitesnake's 80's pop metal days, but I am reminded of the earlier, blues based band that formed out of Deep Purple. "Into the Light" opens up with the heavy blues title track that is actually quite captivating and reminded me immediately of Robin Trower. Funny thing was, somewhere during the song Coverdale says something about "across the Bridge of Sighs." Hmmm, wonder if that was a coincidence? Anyhow, the entire CD has a similar blues based rock sound that is quite enjoyable. Even ballads like "Don't You Cry" has blues as it's basis. "Slave" and "A Cry For Love" could easily have been a songs written for one of those pre-MTV, early 80's Whitesnake albums. Kudos to Coverdale for putting out a solo CD of this caliber rather than trying to recreate himself for the crappy alterna-rock that popular radio now supports.
Whitesnake - Here I Go Again: The Whitesnake Collection (Geffen) 2002
"Slide It In" was the album that changed the band's fate in 1983. It fused classic hard rock and heavy metal and had a sleazy, bluesy, charm. The melodic and hard-hitting "Love Ain't No Stranger", as well as the sleazy "Slow an' Easy" and "Spit It Out" are definitely some of the band's most memorable tracks to date. In 1987 the band's popularity again exploded with a collection of songs penned by Coverdale and guitarist John Sykes. Though Sykes isn't pictured on the album, or given much credit, his signature stamp is all over the album. The album was a mega-hit due to hits like "Here I Go Again", the ballad "Is This Love" and the Led Zeppelin inspired "Still of the Night." Oddly enough, the stiff radio mix of that song is also included and starts off disc one. It probably would have been better to have included it at the end of the album. Several other b-side tracks are included. "You're Gonna Break My Heart Again" and "Sweet Lady Luck" are classic 'Snake rockers. Both songs, along with outtake "You're Gonna Break My Heart Again", appeared on 1994's "Greatest Whitesnake". "Looking For Love" and the soulful "Need Your Love So Bad" are both ballads. The later was a b-side and bonus track on some import versions of "Slip of the Tongue". All-in-all, there are six non-album tracks included in this collection.
When I had first heard that David Coverdale and company were going to be releasing a new Whitesnake studio album, I wasn't really expecting much. To be honest, I expected the band to shoot f or a more modern radio rock sound in an attempt to stay modern and relevant. However, what Whitesnake have done is released a solid album of melodic, hard rock that recalls both their glory days in the 80's and their slightly more bluesy sound from the 1970's. With Good To Be Bad, Whitesnake proves they still have plenty left in their tank and are ready to pummel the world again with their brand of good time rock and roll. "Best Years", for instance, is a catchy, fun tune that reminds me a bit of of the Allman Brothers classic "Whipping Post". This song reminds me of the good times rock and roll of days gone by. Album closer "'Till The End Of Time" is a melodic ballad, yet one that fits well on the album without coming off as forced and cheesy. The songs on this CD are classic Whitesnake, full of big guitar riffs, melodic hooks and a good combination of rockers and ballads. David Coverdale's voice still sounds great, although a bit raspy at times. Actually I think the raspy sound works in David's favor.
Not only are we given an excellent new studio disc, but some versions come with a second CD chock full of classic live material, including the awesome Deep Purple openers, "Burn" and "Stormbringer". The live disc is actually as good as the studio disc. Simply outstanding!
The 2008 lineup of the band includes vocalist David Coverdale, guitarists Doug Aldrich (Dio) and Reb Beach (Winger/Dokken), bassist Uriah Duffy (Christina Aguilera/Appice), keyboardist Timothy Drury (Don Henley) and drummer Chris Frazier (Steve Vai).
Whitesnake - Forevermore (Frontiers) 2011