Slide It In by Whitesnake

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Slide It In by WhitesnakeWhitesnake made its first real splash with the release of their sixth album, Slide It In in 1984. Although the album was far from a blockbuster hit, a second version of the album finally established Whitesnake in America and set the stage for greater future success. Under the tutelage of producer Martin Birch, the group found the perfect sound for the mid-eighties hard rock audience. However, this pivotal album for the band was actually constructed during a time of shifting personnel for Whitesnake, with lineup shifts around founder and front man David Coverdale before, during, and after the record’s production.

In 1978, Coverdale founded Whitesnake as a solo project following his brief gig as Deep Purple’s lead vocalist. The new band’s earliest sound utilized some of the blues-rock basics of British groups years earlier. Joining Coverdale in this new band was fellow Deep Purple member Jon Lord on keyboards, guitarist Micky Moody, and a rotating rhythm section. Whitesnake’s first four albums did well in the UK but failed to make any waves in the US. In 1981 guitarist Mel Galley, who had spent a dozen years with the band Trapeze, became the group’s second guitarist and was on board for the recording of the 1982 release Saints and Sinners, the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album to date.

First recorded in late 1983, Slide It In cam out as two distinct mixes, each with differing personnel. After the group’s new American label Geffen objected to the “flat sounding” mix on the UK release, Coverdale fired Moody and bassist Colin Hodgkinson and had their parts re-recorded by new members John Sykes and Neil Murray respectively, before the entire album was re-mixed and re-sequenced for a U.S. release. While the newer mix was sonically superior overall, some fans lament that it diminishes the presence of Lord’s keyboards and the overall bass guitar.


Slide It In by Whitesnake
Released: January 1984 (Geffen)
Produced by: Martin Birch
Recorded: 1983
Side One Side Two
Slide It In
Slow and Easy
Love Ain’t No Stranger
All or Nothing
Gambler
Guilty of Love
Hungry for Love
Give Me More Time
Spit It Out
Standing In the Shadow
Group Musicians
David Coverdale – Lead Vocals
Mel Galley – Guitars, Vocals
Jon Lord – Keyboards
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell Drums

An AC/DC inspired riff and beat on the opening title song is contrasted by Coverdale’s distinctly non-AC/DC vocals on this track of rock raunch to the core with not-so-subtle lyrics. “Slide It In” is really an entertaining and melodic musical showcase with a good guitar lead by Moody under an alternate chord structure. Co-written by Moody, “Slow an’ Easy” is a track of pure rock drama, slowly unfolding with every note, breath, and rudimentary beat. Built on a diverse collection of guitar motifs, the track takes nearly two and a half minutes until it finally gets to the hook, which contains claps and chants, perfectly setting it up for future arena shows. Held together by Powell’s precise drumming, once fully realized this song never relents from its drive, which helped propel the song into the Top 20 of the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

Next up in the parade of classic rock gems is “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, which starts with long synths accompanied by an acoustic guitar, before ultimately kicking into a steady rocker, While there are no real “power ballads” on Slide It In, the short intro verses on this track may be as close as the group gets. “All or Nothing” is pure hard rock in the spirit of groups like Rainbow, solidly built on a heavy metal riff by Galley with dramatic vocal wails by Coverdale and a consistent jam drive throughout. The fine first side closes with “Gambler”, which may be the perfect Whitesnake song as a moody track with rotating riffs and great keys. Vocally, Coverdale shows much range within each verse, while the lead section contains back-to-back solos by Lord and Galley, continuing the great hard rock parade.

Unfortunately, the second side is not as potent as the first. It starts with “Guilty of Love”, an upbeat rock song which was the first recorded for the album and released as a single in mid 1983. With this, the song was the only one produced by Eddie Kramer. The similarly titled “Hungry for Love” is slightly better than its predecessor due to a better rock jam by the musicians and cool bluesy riff lines by Galley and Murray. “Give Me More Time” is very melodic and well put together and sounds like it should have been a hit song. Constructed in pristine fashion from verse to pre-chorus to chorus, with a great lead section that contains a harmonized lead by Galley over wild drumming by Powell.

“Spit It Out” continues where the previous song left off, but with the sharp return to sexual gratuitousness. Still, the song is solid musically with nice mid-section built on a rapid hi-hat beat by Powell and slight guitar strumming by Galley before it explodes back for the guitar lead. The album concludes with the apt, steady, and slightly dark rocker, “Standing In the Shadow”. While the track pales in comparison to songs earlier on the album, it is probably the best of Coverdale’s several solo compositions on the album.

Slide It In did squeak into the Top 40 in America, while reaching the Top 10 in the UK, eventually reaching double platinum in sales. However, the personnel shifts continued as Lord joined a reunited Deep Purple and Powell joined the revamped super group Emerson, Lake, and Powell. Coverdale and Sykes later composed and recorded the blockbuster 1987 album Whitesnake, but Coverdale then fired the entire band for the more “photogenic” younger group that appeared in all the late eighties videos.

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1984 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 30th anniversary of 1984 albums.

 

Coverdale-Page

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Coverdale-PageCoverdale/Page was a collaboration featuring former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and former Whitesnake and former Deep Purple lead vocalist David Coverdale. The union of these two seemed like an odd one when it started in 1991, as Page was considered a top-notch guitarist for all time and Coverdale had been criticized as being a knock-off (even rip-off) of Zeppelin’s vocalist Robert Plant. However, Coverdale’s commercial currency was riding high at the beginning of the nineties, due mainly to the recent commercial heights of Whitesnake while Page’s post-Zeppelin success had been sluggish in the 1980s, save for a brief run with The Firm.

Since Led Zeppelin disbanded after the death of John Bonham in 1980, rumors of a reunion were always present. By the early 1990s, these rumors had reached a fevered pitch and it appeared as though a reunion may finally come to fruition. However, Plant reportedly began to have reservations which ultimately nixed the plan. Because of this, many have suggested that Page collaborated with Coverdale in order to somewhat “irk” Plant, by collaborating with this “newer model” of the singer. It may have worked, as Plant expressed some derision at the guitarist’s collaboration with Coverdale in interviews at the time.

The project officially began with some low grade recordings by the Coverdale-Page duo in 1991. The album tracks for the eponymous album were then recorded in several studios on both sides of the Atlantic over the winter of 1991/92. However, the album itself was delayed in post production for over a year until it was finally released in March 1993.


Coverdale-Page by Coverdale-Page
Released: March 15, 1993 (EMI)
Produced by: Jimmy Page, David Coverdale, & Mike Fraser
Recorded: Little Mountain Studios, Vancouver, Criteria Studios, Miami, Highbrow Productions, Hook City, NV & Abbey Road Studios, London, Late 1991 to early 1992
Track Listing Primary Musicians
Shake My Tree
Waiting On You
Take Me for a Little While
Pride and Joy
Over Now
Feeling Hot
Easy Does It
Take a Look at Yourself
Don’t Leave Me This Way
Absolution Blues
Whisper a Prayer for the Dying
David Coverdale – Lead vocals, Guitar
Jimmy Page – Guitars, Bass, Dulcimer, “Electric Dog”, Harmonica
Lester Mendez – Keyboards
Denny Carmassi – Drums, Percussion

Coverdale-Page

“Shake My Tree” starts things off as a very Zeppelin-esque, super-charged blues rock anthem. The song builds tension through the first two verses as Page’s guitar and Coverdale’s voice carry the day until a the rest of the band come in with a “fire one” approach, making this a very formidable opener. The key riff for the song had actually been developed by Page during the sessions for Zeppelin’s final album In Through The Out Door, recorded in 1978. It was discarded then and even passed up by Page’s mid eighties group, The Firm. The Zeppelin-esque riffing of “Waiting on You” follows with some interesting stop/start rudiments, while the drumming and bass is definitely more Whitesnake than Led Zeppelin.

Speaking of Whitesnake, “Take Me for a Little While” could have fit well on any of their 1980s albums. A very moody power ballad, with just enough arrangement pizazz to keep it from the caricature realm of groups like Poison. “Pride and Joy” is a bit more original. Conceived by Coverdale as a Dr. John-style blues tune before Page brought it to a whole new level with layered guitars and a dulcimer added on top (an instrument Page hadn’t recorded since “That’s the Way” on Led Zeppelin III). During the second part of the song, Page plays a much stronger electric riff, which nicely counter-balances the song’s feel. “Shake My Tree” earned considerable radio airplay at the time.

Slower rock tracks also are prevalent on the album, such as the “Kashmir”-like “Over Now”, which sounds like some of the tracks from Page’s brief solo career. Former Montrose drummer Denny Carmassi leads a fast rock shuffle behind “Feeling Hot”, while bassist Jorge Casas adds some melodic and bouncy bass to “Easy Does It”. But there is no doubt that this album is dominated by the two men who give its name. “Take a Look at Yourself” is almost a love song, with measured, strummed guitars by Page, a very melodic vocal hook, and some fine wailing by Coverdale towards the end.

The album ends strong with two quality tracks. “Absolution Blues” is almost a hybrid between Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, with Page providing the fine yet vastly different guitar parts for both sides of the equation. “Whisper a Prayer for the Dying” closes with more strong acoustic guitars and bass before it rips into frenzied part with strong riffs and wailing vocals.

Despite alt-rock dominating the charts and radio at the time, Coverdale/Page initially sold strongly, peaking at #4 in the UK and #5 in the US and eventually going platinum. But the album did soon fade from view, a proposed tour was axed, and the partnership quickly dissolved after this one album. In the end, Coverdale re-formed Whitesnake and Page finally joined up Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant in 1994 for a couple of new albums in the mid 1990s.

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1993 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1993 albums.

 

Whitesnake

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Whitesnake albumWhitesnake‘s eponymous 1987 album bears the dual distinction of being the moment where a rock band finally reaches its full commercial promise and assures its own rapid demise. Both of these achievements could be placed on the lap of the group’s founder, lead vocalist, and all-powerful decision maker David Coverdale. The band was formed in 1978 and named after Coverdale’s first solo album after his short, mid-seventies gig as Deep Purple’s front man. Whitesnake had increasing success with its three previous albums released in 1980, 1982, and 1984 respectively before Coverdale decided to go “all in” with the next release. After the moderate success of the group’s latest album Slide It In, Coverdale teamed up with former Thin Lizzy guitarist John Sykes to compose new songs with a more aggressive, guitar-oriented sound.

With the exception of two songs that were redone from the 1982 Saints and Sinners album, Sykes co-wrote every song on the the Whitesnake album, which had its release delayed for a year when Coverdale contracted a serious sinus infection which made recording nearly impossible. However, after Coverdale recovered and completed recording, he summarily dismissed Sykes from the band. The subsequent famous music videos would feature new guitarists Adrian Vandenberg and Vivian Campbell “miming” Sykes’ guitar parts. The band’s rhythm section faced a similar fate, as bassist Neil Murray and drummer Aynsley Dunbar were replaced with younger, more “video friendly” players post album release and keyboardist Don Airey was never considered part of the touring band. To complete the overall lack of integrity with this album, a different version entitled 1987 was released in Europe with a different running order and two extra tracks.

The bluesy experience which made the album a good listen was discarded and leaving Coverdale in front of a hollowed out faux band to pretentiously soak in the fruits of the multi-year studio effort. The album was by far their most commercially successful and received exponential more radio play than all their previous efforts combined. However, it also alienated many of Whitesnake’s long-time and loyal fans, who viewed this 1987 album as a pander to the mainstream fads of the time.


Whitesnake by Whitesnake
Released: April 7, 1987 (Geffen)
Produced by: Mike Stone & Keith Olsen
Recorded:September 1985-November 1986
Side One Side Two
Crying in the Rain
Bad Boys
Still of the Night
Here I Go Again
Give Me All Your Love
Is This Love
Children of the Night
Straight For the Heart
Don’t Turn Away
Band Musicians
David Coverdale – Lead Vocals
John Sykes – Guitars, Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Aynsley Dunbar – Drums & Percussion

The album is best known for the MTV videos which featured actress Tawny Kitaen, Coverdale’s then-girlfriend who he later married. In spite of all the “style over substance” surrounding this album, it does contain some brilliant musical moments, a few of which where Coverdale does a great job channeling some classic-era Robert Plant. The opener “Crying in the Rain” was originally on Saints and Sinners, with this re-recorded version portraying a much heavier, Zeppelin-esque sound.

 

“Still of the Night” is the true highlight of the album, with Sykes and Murray reworking an old demo by Coverdale and Ritchie Blackmore from the Deep Purple days over a decade earlier. The song combines the blues origins of the musicians with a crisper, updated, and harder-driving sound. Coverdale’s vocal call and response to the riffs are classic Page, Plant, and Jones and Dunbar’s hi-hat work during the mid section is pure Bonham, making this song the 1980s heir to classic Zeppelin. Coverdale would later join up with Jimmy Page for a few albums in the early 1990s.

Whitesnake

“Here I Go Again” was the second remake from Saints and Sinners, co-written by Whitesnake’s then-guitarist Bernie Marsden. It became a #1 hit for the band in America and the peak of their commercial appeal. It was also the point at which the band truly “jumped the shark” as the song was re-recorded yet another time for a watered-down “radio-mix” version, which took away absolutely any edge left on this originally fine composition. Much of the rest of the album is unremarkable and formulaic, with the power ballad “Is This Love” also making waves on pop radio. One standout is the closing “Don’t Turn Away”, which is a unique rocker reminiscent to some of the band’s better material on their previous album Slide it In.

That last song leaves the listener with a taste of the Whitesnake’s prior potential which no longer existed even as the band was headlining arenas through 1988. More line-up changes would plague the band moving forward and even with the inclusion of top talent like Steve Vai, the band would never again reach the heights of 1987.

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1987 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1987 albums.