Judas Priest, Whitesnake & Pop Evil live in concert at Comcast Center (Mansfield, MA) – 7/7/09

Second concert of the season and it was a good one…..Judas Priest & Whitesnake! Same venue that I saw the Def Leppard/Poison show last week but what a difference in the crowd! Def Leppard and Poison packed the seats under the roof and the seats on the lawn for about a 10,000+ audience…..Judas Priest and Whitesnake didn’t even sell out the seats under the roof, I’d say anywhere from 5000 – 7000 in attendance last night. I was sitting center stage 20 rows back so I had a perfect seat for a night of BRITISH STEEL and an ’80s greatest hits set from Whitesnake.

Pop Evil setlist:

I have no idea who Pop Evil are and what songs they played. All I know is that they are from Michigan and they sound like Nickelback, Creed, Puddle Of Mudd and Godsmack all rolled into one. I’m not a big fan of those bands but Pop Evil weren’t that bad, I’ve seen worse openers, and they only played for 30 minutes.

Whitesnake setlist:

Bad Boys
Fool For Your Loving
Love Ain’t No Stranger
Slow An’ Easy
Lay Down Your Love (includes double guitar solo from Reb Beach & Doug Aldrich)
Cryin’ In The Rain (includes a quick drum solo mid-song)
Is This Love
Give Me All Your Love
Is This Love
Here I Go Again
Still Of The Night

No big surprises here and it’s pretty much what I expected from David Coverdale and company. The band sounded tight and Coverdale had good voice but I could do without some of the over the top screaming he does. He still has a good voice but he likes to scream a lot live I guess. I could have done without the solos and gotten an extra song especially with ‘Slide It In’ missing from the set. Good to hear ‘Lay Down Your Love’ from GOOD TO BE BAD (2008), it came off well live and David’s intro mentioned that their label (SPV) went bankrupt. I’m not surprised the band kept it to their three most popular albums from the ’80s, unless of course you’re a diehard and recognize that ‘Fool For Your Loving’ (from 1980’s READY AN’ WILLING) and ‘Here I Go Again’ (from 1982’s SAINTS & SINNERS) were earlier tracks the band re-recorded. It was a good set and a solid performance that the crowd really got into.

Judas Priest setlist:

Rapid Fire
Metal Gods
Breaking The Law
Grinder
United
You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise
Living After Midnight
The Rage
Steeler
The Ripper
Prophecy
Hell Patrol
Victim Of Changes
Freewheel Burning
Diamonds & Rust
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

This was the 30th anniversary of BRITISH STEEL (1980) and the band is playing the entire album (a trend I am enjoying from a lot of bands lately) from start to finish. Good to hear the band play the album with the original tracklisting, most of the crowd thought that they would open with ‘Breaking The Law’ but I educated more than a few people that the record company had changed the running order so ‘Breaking The Law’ & ‘Living After Midnight’ would be the first songs to start each side of the album and that ‘Rapid Fire’ was the true first song. Then I had a kid in his late teens ask me what I meant by a “side”. I gave up!

Priest rammed right through the entire album almost without pause: Halford did his usual ‘Breaking The Law’ intro (“Breaking the what?”) and he spoke about the band’s biggest “hit” before ‘Living After Midnight’ but it was pretty much non-stop. Highlights from the BRITISH STEEL set were everything but the hits I’ve heard before at a Priest show except for ‘Metal Gods’, one of my favorites. I got to hear ‘Grinder’ and ‘The Rage’ and they went over HUGE with the crowd but the best was yet to come…..

‘The Ripper’ and ‘Victim Of Changes’ are classics from SAD WINGS OF DESTINY (1976) and I got to hear ‘Freewheel Burning’ from my favorite Priest record DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH (1984) that has to be one of the fastest they’ve done. Even the new NOSTRADAMUS song ‘Prophecy’ came out good live and there were a lot of people singing it word for word so I guess I’m not the only one out there who liked that album! The band sounded great as usual and Rob’s voice sounded stronger, he was also a little more animated on stage rather than his “stand in one place and look at my boots” phase he’s been in since 2006. Overall a great show and a diehard’s dream of a setlist…..maybe next year they can do a 20th anniversary of PAINKILLER (1990)!

CD Scavenger Hunt — New Release Tuesday edition 6/2/09

Has it really been over a month since I went out on a Hunt? Sad to say but it has been a month since I went wild in the record store. I’m not sure what was up with May but I made up for things the right way by scooping up a bunch of new releases that came out the last couple weeks, grabbing a CD that I featured in a WANTED! post, and a couple of Ebay purchases. The weird thing was that I walked into my local Newbury Comics and the store was completely changed around! I had no idea where anything was! So let’s get to this week’s finds…..

Online

SAVANNAH - S-TSavannah – s/t (1998) – $15: Once I posted the WANTED column for this CD, I decided to go out and get it right away. I went to Amazon and found the Nightmare Records store where they had a brand new copy for $12 ($3 shipping). The listing stated that it was the U.S. version but it turned out to be the Japanese pressing with the bonus track: ‘Too Young Hearts’ (Soul Version). I was surprised to get the Japanese pressing because it usually goes for $50-$75 in most places…..definitely a bargain!

alyson avenue omegaAlyson Avenue – Omega (2004) – $11: I read online somewhere that both Alyson Avenue albums were going to be re-released but then I couldn’t find the article again. I have the band’s first album PRESENCE OF MIND (2000) and that goes for big bucks at auction now so I figured I might as well find OMEGA and have a complete set of original pressings. This album was easy to find but at inflated prices but I found this auction because the band’s name was misspelled…..I won for $8 + $3 shipping.

JLT - Rescue YouJoe Lynn Turner – Rescue You (1985) – $12: I love Joe Lynn Turner, he has one of the finest voices in Rock and I’ve taken an interest in picking up everything he’s done in the last few years. RESCUE YOU has been on my wishlist for quite some time now and it’s an easy album to find on CD because Wounded Bird Records reissued the album in 2004. I’ve actually seen a copy or two in my record store hunts! I was watching an auction for one of the reissues and I found this one ending soon for a Japanese pressing from ’85. I always prefer an original over a reissue especially when there is nothing extra on the reissue so winning this one for $9 + $3 shipping was a great deal!

Record Store

whitesnake-lovehunter-1979Whitesnake – Lovehunter (1979) – $12 used: I know $12 is a lot of a used CD but I haven’t been able to track down LOVEHUNTER in a few years, once I saw it I grabbed it right away! I posted a WANTED column for this album just over a year ago and I’ve been giving this the weekly search online…..you can’t find this online for less than $10 and, if you do, a bidding war starts! Another hole in the collection filled!

Candlemass_DeathMagicDoomCandlemass – Death Magic Doom (2009) – $12: This album came out last week but I never went to the record store…..I ended up missing the $9.99 sale price and had to settle for the new $12 sale price. I haven’t really paid much attention to Candlemass lately, especially when Messiah Marcolin left again in 2006, but I decided to give the band a fresh listen. This U.S. version has a bonus track ‘Lucifer Rising’ (album outtake).

Stratovarius-PolarisStratovarius – Polaris (2009) – $9.99: Here’s another band that I haven’t paid much attention to in the last few years and another album that came out last week. The good news is I got the special first week $9.99 sale! Power Metal is one of my favorite genres of Metal so Stratovarius should be one of the bands I really enjoy but I haven’t bothered to pay attention to the band since they released INFINITE in 2000. Something about the album cover really interested me this time around and the sale price helped out as well.

Alestorm - Black Sails At Midnight (2009 limited edition)Alestorm – Black Sails At Midnight (2009 limited edition) – $13: Pirate Metal! I’ve been getting into Alestorm a lot lately by listening to their first album, CAPTAIN MORGAN’S REVENGE (2008), online and the LEVIATHAN E.P. (2009) that I picked up a couple months ago. I couldn’t resist picking up this CD when I saw that the limited edition included a DVD of the band’s performance at 2008’s Wacken Open Air festival. Comes in a nice digipak slipcase with the original artwork on the booklet.

doro_fear_no_evil_limited_edition_2009Doro – Fear No Evil (2009 limited edition) – $9.99: The reigning queen of Metal is back with another album and it just seems like she just keeps releasing new albums every year. This album has been out everywhere but the U.S. since January and this version says it’s a limited edition because of the online access to bonus content with the CD. That really makes no difference to me because the digipak version from Europe has 2 bonus tracks AND the online bonuses. A little disappointed brcause I’d want the other 2 songs but the price was good, I’ll keep my eye out for the European version though.

the gathering - the west pole The Gathering – The West Pole (2009) – $12: I got into The gathering back in 1995 when I heard ‘In Motion #1′ from MANDYLION…..after that I became a big fan of the band and vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen. I followed the band closely, buying every new album, until they released IF_THEN_ELSE (2000). By that time I was getting bored with the direction the band was taking into a more atmospheric realm. Now Anneke is gone, having left after the tour for 2006’s HOME, and new singer Silje Wergeland (ex-Octavia Sperati) is on board. I’m interested in how Silje sings and if the music will be different with a new vocalist.

streamofpassion_flameStream Of Passion – The Flame Within (2009 limited edition) – $12: I’m going into this CD blindly because I have never heard a Stream Of Passion song before but I read quite a few positive reviews from some well respected Metal websites so I figured I’d take a chance. Arjen Anthony Lucassen from Ayreon used to be in the band so I figure the music has a Power/Progressive/Ambient quality. The limited edition digipak release for the U.S. has a bonus track called ‘Far And Apart’.

tyr_bythelightTýr – By The Light Of The Northern Star (2009 limited edition) – $12: Well Napalm Records surely got my business this week with Týr, Alestorm and Stream Of Passion all coming out the same day and all U.S. limited editions! Big fan of Týr since I picked up LAND (2008) and I started into their back catalogue. I didn’t realize they had a new record coming out but I know it’s going to be good.

Judas Priest to play entire British Steel album on U.S. Summer 2009 Tour with Whitesnake

From Bravewords:

Judas Priest have posted the following message:

“To celebrate the 30th anniversary of our album BRITISH STEEL, we are very pleased to announced we will be performing the whole album in its entirety during our US 2009 Summer Tour, plus some other Priest classics!!!”

judas-priest-british-steel-1980

As previously reported, Whitesnake have just been added to to Priest’s upcoming North American tour. The band will play select dates on the tour. More information to follow.

Judas Priest’s itinerary is as follows:

July
1 – The Family Arena – St. Charles, MO
2 – Summerfest, Harley Davidson Stage – Milwaukee, WI
3 – Taste Of Minnesota at Harriet Island – St. Paul, MN
9 – Molson Amphitheatre – Toronto, ON
11 – PNC Banks Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ
12 – Nikon At Jones Beach Theater – Wantagh, NY
17 – Moondance Jam 18 – Walker, MN
18 – Rockfest/Chippewa Valley Music – Cadott, WI

August
2 – Gibson Amphitheatre – Universal City, CA

The Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15)

2008 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I buy a lot of music but the failing economy took it’s toll on my music budget. I was very lucky to have caught the attention of many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review (to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU), without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. The ranking of the Top 30 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into two posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15):

#1

Avantasia - The Scarecrow (2008)Avantasia – The Scarecrow

Tobias Sammet (Edguy) has the magic touch this year and his new concept album THE SCARECROW takes the top spot as Album Of The Year. The album is similar to the first two Avantasia albums, METAL OPERA 1 & 2, in that it is full of guest stars (Alice Cooper, Jorn Lande, Rudolf Schenker, Michael Kiske, Eric Singer, and more) performing  this combination of epic Power Metal blended with hard Rock, Classic Rock, Classical and Folk. That’s a lot to take in at once! Every song is very melodic and I found myself easily singing along after a couple of spins. A good album is one that leaves a lasting impression and THE SCARECROW has been part of my weekly playlist since it’s release in January.

#2

Ayreon - 01011001 (2008)Ayreon – 01011001

A close second! Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Ayreon project is similar to Avantasia with all of the guest stars performing and the epic nature of the music. The difference is that Ayreon’s music is longer, more epic and follows a storyline that started on previous albums. (For a good explanation of the plot, read this album’s Wikipedia page.) This album is almost 2 hours of Progressive Rock & Metal, Power Metal, and Symphonic Metal that is both melodic and heavy…..there is a lot to take in! Even the packaging is complex! There are layers of sound in each song that you sometimes here something different the next time you here it. 01011001 is a little less accessible than THE SCARECROW due to it’s length (2 CDs) and heavy concept but it was a very close second. So close in fact that I almost called a tie!

#3

whitesnakegood_to_be_badWhitesnake – Good To Be Bad

It took 11 years but we finally got a new Whitesnake record and it is a great comeback for David Coverdale. Most of the album retains the Blues Rock that was the basis of the early Whitesnake album while leaning on that big ’80s sound. The songs are full of hooks and great guitar work (Doug Aldrich & Reb Beach) along with that thick Coverdale voice. I had seen the band tour with the Scorpions a couple of years earlier and they were awesome in concert. I knew a new record would have a great sound. It was also good to see this album get a ton of promotion, especially on U.S. television, I didn’t expect to see constant commercials on different channels advertising the CD. In a year full of comebacks (AC/DC, Guns N Roses, Journey), I have to give Whitesnake the best comeback of the year!

#4

Judas Priest - Nostradamus (2008)Judas Priest – Nostradamus

Let the debate begin! Of all the big releases this year from big time bands, no album had more debate then Judas Priest’s double concept album NOSTRADAMUS. I’ve heard all the arguements from “it’s not straight forward Judas Priest” to “it’s too long” to “the concept sucks” to “Iron Maiden could have done it better”…..I think a lot of fans were down on the project due to purely nostalgic reasons. We aren’t going to get the BRITISH STEEL era Judas Priest because they have evolved as musicians and this concept album is what they wanted to do. I’ll admit that Priest isn’t known for their albums being complete epics, they’re more straight forward in their approach, but that doesn’t mean that NOSTRADAMUS is devoid of what makes Priest great. Half the album is instrumental intros that kind of make the album drawn out but the songs do have the Metal that Priest is known for. Rob Halford’s voice sounds better than it has in years and he puts in perhaps the performance of his career. The music is really good if you listen without prejudice and I don’t want to get into that synth guitar arguement because KK Downing & Glenn Tipton have been using them all along. Give NOSTRADAMUS a spin without hoping for 1980 Judas Priest and you will find a great album. This album was tough to get through due to the length (close to 2 hours) but repeated listens have pushed this album from a grower to #4.

#5

Royal Hunt - Collision Course - Paradox II Royal Hunt – Collision Course: Paradox II

This has to be the year of the concept album because the latest offering from Royal Hunt is the 4th concept album in the Top 5! Let’s not even get into the conceptual aspect, the music alone is melodic Power/Progressive Metal with solid musicianship and  great vocal performance from new singer Mark Boals. The last few Royal Hunt albums have been disappointing but COLLISION COURSE proves that the band is still a force. I was surprised at how melodic this album really is because some of the band’s previous efforts were held down by too much keyboard noodling, I think adding Mark Boals to the band adds a fresh influence and creativity.

#6

cover_globaldramaCloudscape – Global Drama

Like the entire Top 5, GLOBAL DRAMA has remained part of my weekly playlist since it’s release. I’ve had the album since late July and I just keep playing it…..that’s the sign of a good record! Cloudscape is a Progressive Metal band but they are very melodic (like Royal Hunt) while retaining their heaviness. The first couple of spins made me think of Kamelot, Balance Of Power and Symphony X…..that’s a good group to be in. Cloudscape was on my list to check out and now they are one of the best newer bands I’ve heard in a long time, I’m currently on the hunt for the band’s previous albums.

#7

msg-in-the-midst-of-beauty-2008Michael Schenker Group – In The Midst Of Beauty

When guitar legend Michael Schenker puts his head down and stays focused, he makes truly great records. There is no denying his talent on guitar but his career has been plagued with different challenges and the subsequent results aren’t always the best musically. IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY is an almost full reunion of the original MSG: Gary Barden is back on the mic, Don Airey on keys, Simon Phillips on drums and Neil Murray handling bass instead of Mo Foster. That’s as solid a lineup as you’re going to get and I think the strong supporting cast influenced Michael because he created some of the best music of his career, it’s as if you can hear Michael’s happiness in his playing. The album is melodic and heavy with a ton of riffs for the guitar enthusiast but the music is enhanced by that cool Hammond organ Airey commands giving the album a late ’70s/early ’80s sound, almost like classic UFO. If Whitesnake was my comeback of the year then Michael Schenker is a close second.

#8

Journey Revelation (2008) Journey – Revelation

If there ever was a band that described AOR/Melodic Rock then Journey is that band. The last couple of years have been trying for the band with all the rotation at the lead singer slot (Steve Augeri, Jeff Scott Soto) but the band grabbed a virtual unknown, Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, and made an album that is pure classic Journey. Melodic Rock at it’s finest, Journey’s new songs are full of harmonies, good melodies, soaring vocals and really good guitar. Let me add they are also well written and produced too. The band new that another new lead singer would be a gamble but Pineda puts on a great performance that is on par with Steve Perry’s legacy. There was also great value here with a second disc of re-recorded greatest hits and a bonus live DVD…..you can’t beat that for $15! All year long I have been saying that if the music industry wasn’t so screwed up then Journey would have a multi-platinum hit album with REVELATION.

#9

Def Leppard - Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (2008)Def Leppard – Songs From the Sparkle Lounge

I know it’s not fashionable to like Def Leppard because they have “sold out” and downplayed their NWOBHM and Hard Rock roots over the years but they do make very good records. SPARKLE LOUNGE is one of those albums that just has that mix of catchy ’80s Hard Rock and current modern Rock that mainstream radio lives for. The music is full of hooks and melody and the songs are all well done except for one repetitive dud (‘C’mon C’mon’). The Leps know how to make a catchy record and this one had me hooked in and singing along. I like the trademark big sound combined with the ’70s influences and modern updates. Def Leppard takes a lot of criticism but they make good music.

#10

moonspell-night-eternal-2008Moonspell – Night Eternal

I wasn’t expecting much from a new Moonspell album but I was completely surprised by NIGHT ETERNAL and it’s variety of sound. Moonspell plays a blend of Black, Death, Gothic and Power Metals all rolled into one with grand orchestration and both clean and harsh vocals. Get all that? The album is dark and heavy but it’s also very melodic and there are some beautiful orchestrations that enhance the overall sound. As I started re-listening to my 2008 CDs to make this Top 30, NIGHT ETERNAL kept creeping closer and closer to the Top 10. I had the promo for a long time but I ended up buying a proper copy at the local shop for around $13 and the value was really good: a bonus track ‘Age Of Mothers’ and a two alternate versions of ‘Scorpion Flower’ along with a bonus DVD of live Wacken 2007 performances. This kind of music isn’t my usual first choice but I expanded my horizons this year and I rediscovered Moonspell.

#11

benedictum-seasons-of-tragedyBenedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy

I’ve had SEASONS OF TRAGEDY since it’s U.S. release in March and it is one of the best Traditional Metal albums of the year. A lot of Metal fans might be thrown off by having a female frontwoman but I can tell you that Veronica Freeman kicks a whole lot of ass on the mic! Her vocals are extremely powerful to go along with the fast pummelling music that’s behind her. This is Benedictum’s second album and they steer clear of the sophomore jinx with an album heavy on Power Metal and Thrash that I can only describe as an aural assault. One of the best new U.S. Metal bands out there.

#12

Alice Cooper - Along Came A Spider (2008)Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider

Another concept album making the Top 30? Of course! Especially if it’s an Alice Cooper album! I’m a huge Alice Cooper fan, always have been, and this is one of the best albums he’s released in the last few years. ALONG CAME A SPIDER has a perfect character for Alice to play (a serial killer named Spider) and he adds his own blend of shock, horror and humor to the performance. The one thing that Alice has done successfully with his last few albums is to revisit some of the classic ’70s sounds that made him the king of Shock Rock and he incorporates this sound with enough modern tendencies to make it sound fresh. the concept might not be all that original but Alice plays it perfectly and the songs are all very good with top production.

#13

uriah-heep-wake-the-sleeper-2008Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper

I’ll bet a lot of you are scratching your heads. If you don’t know who Uriah Heep is then you are missing out, the band has been around for close to 40 years and their sound is similar to Deep Purple but with a bit more Progressive Rock. WAKE THE SLEEPER is the first Heep album in a decade and I wasn’t really expecting much but these elder statesman have roared back with a heavy melodic album. Mick Box still plays a mean guitar and Phil Lanzon adds his Hammond organ in to fill out the sound but the performance of the album goes to long time singer Bernie Shaw who puts in one of the best vocal performances of the year.

#14

shannon-angel-in-disguiseShannon – Angel In Disguise

ANGEL IN DISGUISE turned out to be one of the surprises of 2008. I had the album in my growing pile for a couple of months before I got to it and I wasted all that listening time because the record is top flight melodic Metal. Usually, there are a couple of duds in the tracklisting but each song is well done and has plenty of melodic hooks and Euro-Metal power to satisfy a wide range of Metal fans. It’s always a great year when you discover new bands, Shannon will be a band I watch closely in 2009.

#15

testament-the-formation-of-damnation-2008Testament – The Formation Of Damnation

2008 was the year of the concept album and the year of the comeback and Testament came back in a big way with this pounding Thrash assault. This is the album that we all wish Metallica had in them, it’s an in your face old school Thrash attack by a band that I consider one of the best in the genre but sometimes overlooked. This album is one heavy record that easily blows away a lot of modern Thrash out in the last couple of years.

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Please check out the Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16-#30) for the other half of my Top 30 list.

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In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2008:

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hair Metal Mansion

Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
Metal Excess

The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense

Rock Of Ages

My thoughts on Whitesnake

My first exposure to Whitesnake was seeing a vinyl copy of LOVEHUNTER (1979) on display at Good Vibrations back in the early ’80s. Good Vibrations was my favorite record store and it was my weekly stop while my Mom did her food shopping at the super-sized supermarket in the same plaza. I was flipping through the vinyl and there it was!

I remember thinking to myself that I couldn’t get buy this and get it by my Mom but it was a discovery that I kept looking at every week. I’m not sure how long it was after my discovery but I finally heard a Whitesnake song on 94 WHJY, the local Rock station in Providence. It was ‘Slow An’ Easy’ and I remember listening to my boombox on the patio and cranking that sucker when I heard the DJ announce: “And here’s the new Whitesnake…..on HJY!” I was hooked!

All I could imagine was a bunch of long-haired guys in leather getting all the naked girls…..with big snakes all around them! I was a kid, what do you expect? I had a pretty good imagination! there was something about the song, something cool. At the time I couldn’t put my finger on it, now I know it was sex. Anyway, from then I saw the video on MTV and I knew what the band looked like. The next shopping trip, I picked up a cassette of SLIDE IT IN (1984). I got exposed to ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’ & ‘Slide It In’ quick because they were on Side 1 of the tape. I used to listen to Side 1 of tapes until I knew every part by heart, then I would flip’em and do the same with Side 2. I wore that tape out.

So now I had a new band to listen to but new bands were coming out of the woodwork in ’84 so i kind of put Whitesnake on hold until their new album. Three years later, the band explodes because of the WHITESNAKE (1987) album.

This is the record that propelled the band into U.S. superstardom and I, like the rest of my friends, ate it right up. I bought this tape right away just like everyone else did when ‘Still Of The Night’ blew across MTV but I tried to get my friends to check out SLIDE IT IN too. I remember they couldn’t have cared less and I got mad because here was my “secret” band being “discovered” by everyone but no one cared about the previous album. I still get that way with bands. I was about a dozen rows from the stage when Motley Crue came on the GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS tour with the ‘Snake opening in early ’88. What a cool show that was! I still remember punching a friend in the arm when they played ‘Slide It In’ & ‘Slow An’ Easy’. Then I remember Coverdale introducing a song from “his Deep Purple days“…..he was in Deep Purple too? Not only did I have a mission to check out older Whitesnake records, now I had to hear Coverdale in Deep Purple!

From those formative years, I have remained a Whitesnake fan. I’ve collected almost all of the albums and I was lucky to have seen the band tour with the Scorpions and Dokken a few years ago. I still enjoy the mega-sellers from the ’80s but I like to take a trip back to the earlier records most of the time. Now we have GOOD TO BE BAD (2008) and the future is bright again for fans of the ‘Snake. A new record means a new tour. A new record & tour means success. Success means they will make more new records…..making this fan for the last 25 years very happy.

Whitesnake – Good To Be Bad (2008)

Whitesnake – Good To Be Bad (2008, SPV)

  1. Best Years
  2. Can You Hear The Wind Blow
  3. Call On Me
  4. All I Want All I Need
  5. Good To Be
  6. All For Love
  7. Summer Rain
  8. Lay Down Your Love
  9. A Fool In Love
  10. Got What You Need
  11. ‘Til The End Of Time

Live Bonus Disc:

  1. Burn – Stormbringer
  2. Give Me All Your Love Tonight
  3. Walking In The Shadow….
  4. The Deeper The Love
  5. Ready & Willing
  6. Don’t Break My Heart Again
  7. Take Me With You
  8. Ready To Rock

Band Lineup:
David Coverdale – Vocals
Doug Aldrich – Guitars
Reb Beach – Guitars
Timothy Drury – Keyboards
Uriah Duffy – Bass
Chris Frazier – Drums

Produced by: David Coverdale, Doug Aldrich, Michael McIntyre

Total Time = 59:28 (1st disc), 42:25 (2nd disc)

Whitesnake official website
Whitesnake MySpace page
SPV USA

If you haven’t noticed, Whitesnake just released a new album, GOOD TO BE BAD. It’s hard not to notice with all the publicity on TV, radio, and the Internet for Whitesnake’s first proper studio albums in 11 years. For the last few years, David Coverdale and company have been touring the world and thrilling audiences with a supurb live show (I saw them with the Scorpions a few years ago) that was chronicled on the live album LIVE IN THE SHADOW OF THE BLUES (2006). Whitesnake fans were also given four new studio tracks on the live album but that was just a tease of things to come, now we have GOOD TO BE BAD. David Coverdale has employed some fine musicians for the new incarnation of Whitesnake: guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach are names synonymous with great talent and success while Timothy Drury, Uriah Duffy, and Chris Frazier add to the solid musician ship, making Team Whitesnake a sonic force once again.

Opening track ‘Best Years’ is a heavy mid-tempo rocker that recalls the blues laden style of past ‘Snake efforts. Aldrich and Beach immeadiately carve out their territory with dueling guitars and Drury laces the song with a subtle keyboard that enhances, not distracts. What is immeadiately noticeable is the bass and drums, Duffy and Frazier sound very heavy and provide solid muscle to the song. Over the whole album, the members of the rhythm section put on a tremendous effort. ‘Can You Hear The Wind Blow’ is another heavy mid-tempo Hard Rock song with a blazing main riff…..Aldrich completely shines and it’s no wonder he’s being credited with resurrecting Coverdale’s, and Ronnie James Dio’s, solo careers, this guy can flat out play! The only problem is that both songs are very similar except that the latter has a catchy chorus and hook leaning a bit more toward the SLIDE IT IN-era.

Speeding things up a bit is ‘Call On Me’ and David starts to use his higher vocal register. The song is still fat and heavy from the duelling guitars and has some great solos. I’m a little surprised this isn’t the opening song and lead single but I’ll bet it’s a song the band plays live. One thing Whitesnake has been well-known, and well-criticized, for is their ballads. Some of the biggest power ballads of the late ’80s were Whitesnake compositions: ‘Is This Love’ and ‘The Deeper The Love’ being chart toppers. ‘All I Want All I Need’ follows the grand tradition but sounds thicker, ballsier. Coverdale uses a low key, blues-tinged vocal then he did on his previous successes and soars a little higher only a few times, perhaps a sign of getting a bit older? ‘Good To Be’ is a stormer of a title track that reminds me of ‘Slow An’ Easy’. Of course it does! The lyrics “Sometimes it’s good to be bad, bad to the bone” is very similar and the basic premise is along the same lines, it’s almost like this song idea was recycled from 25 years ago.

‘All For Love’ is another candidate for a single and album opener with great guitars and a solid hook at the bridge. The twin axe attack of Aldrich and Beach really shines here as each trade solos within the song. Put this song on the ’87 record or SLIP OF THE TONGUE (1989) and you have an instant hit! I’m a little surprised to hear another ballad so quickly but ‘Summer Rain’ is a really nice departure from the typical ‘Snake ballad. The acoustics are mixed perfectly with the electrics while the keys provide another layer of sound without being overbearing.. Coverdale is using his low drawl well but he sounds scratchy in some parts, that’s where the backing vocals help at the chorus. I’ve been trying to figure out what this song sounds like for weeks and I finally found the answer: this is a Cinderella song. Seriously, I’m not joking, I could hear Tom Keifer singing this and the overall tone sounds like something off HEARTBREAK STATION. Call me crazy…..

Best song on the album is the actual lead single, ‘Lay Down Your Love’. Want to hear the Whitesnake of the late ’80s? This is the song. David suddenly finds that higher register and sounds great throughout, especially in the chorus. Very similar to ‘Still Of The Night’ especially when the guitars cut out for the vocals and pick back up with the bridge. There’s even a slower pace in the middle of the song around the solo, just like ‘Still Of The Night’, that picks back up again. It’s not a complete copycat, I actually like this song better because it has more of a groove. ‘A Fool In Love’ is an old school blues number that draws comparisons to old ‘Snake, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin until the chorus comes in and sounds like we’ve heard it all before. I like the solos over the main blues riff and DC starts to hit those highs towards the end but something about this song screams “been there, done that”. ‘Got What You Need’ is a fun speedy rocker but the lyrics are a bit juvenile, not necessarily a bad thing but the clichés kill it. The solos are really good just like the rest of the album and the vocals are higher giving the casual fans what they expect to hear. Ending the album is ballad #3, ‘Til The End Of Time’. The song has this Western/Bon Jovi – ‘Wanted Man’ vibe to it and it’s definitely a different style than I’m used to. The repeating lines of “I will love you” make me think of The Moody Blues’ ‘Nights In White Satin’ for some reason.

The second disc is a collection of live songs pulled from the last few tours and is a nice added bonus to the proper album. The highlight is the version of ‘Burn/Stormbringer’ for the fans of Coverdale’s days in Deep Purple. There is also a bonus video of ‘Ready To Rock’ attached as an extra bonus.

Bottom Line:
A rousing success! Whitesnake’s first album in over 11 years is a solid effort that can appeal to old school fans from the band’s early days and the MTV generation that grew up with the band’s mega-hits from ’87-’90. Most of the songs have a Blues base from the late ’70s/early ’80s with a leaning toward that late ’80s bombast that made the band a household name. Not sure why we needed three ballads on the album but each one is a different style so that helps keep it all fresh. Musicianship is top notch of course with Aldrich and Beach leading the charge with their guitars. Coverdale sounds like he’s lost a little in his vocal range, those higher notes aren’t as easy to hit, but he uses that deep mid-range drawl to give the songs a bit more balls and groove. Favorite songs here: ‘Lay Down Your Love’, ‘Summer Rain’, ‘Can You Hear The Wind Blow’, and ‘Best Years’…..I like the whole album with only a couple of songs being a little spotty. Definitely one of my favorite albums of the year so far.

 

Whitesnake – Slip Of The Tongue (1989)

Whitesnake – Slip Of The Tongue (1989, Geffen)

  1. Slip Of The Tongue
  2. Cheap An’ Nasty
  3. Fool For Your Loving
  4. Now Your Gone
  5. Kittens Got Claws
  6. Wings Of The Storm
  7. The Deeper The Love
  8. Judgement Day
  9. Slow Poke Music
  10. Sailing Ships

Band Lineup:
David Coverdale – Lead Vocals
Steve Vai – Guitars
Adrian Vandenberg – Guitars*
Rudy Sarzo – Bass
Tommy Aldridge – Drums

*(Due to an injury, Adrian Vandenberg does not perform on this album but is credited. Steve Vai handles all guitar recordings.)

Additional Musicians:
Glenn Hughes – Backing Vocals
Tommy Funderburk – Backing Vocals
Don Airey – Keyboards
Claude Gaudette – Keyboards
David Rosenthal – Keyboards

Produced by: Mike Clink & Keith Olsen

Total time = 46:47

Whitesnake official website
Whitesnake MySpace page

After the massive success of the multi-platinum WHITESNAKE (1987) album, Coverdale and company follow-up with the very similar sounding SLIP OF THE TONGUE. By ’89, Whitesnake was one of the top arena rock bands with plenty of radio and MTV airplay for singles ‘Still Of The Night’, ‘Is This Love’, and the re-make of ‘Here I Go Again’. The problem is you have to follow it up and keep the success going so you follow the same formula.

First thing you notice with the opening title track is the keyboard intro. The previous album’s success was based on heavy guitars with a touch of keys. This record starts with keyboards but the track is one of the best on the album chock full of guitar swagger. ‘Cheap An’ Nasty’ follows with very juvenile lyrics but it is another fast rocker. Unfortunately, Steve Vai begins with his tone-less wanking all over this song and it takes away from the feel. Vai is one of those guitarists that is technically proficient but his over-the-top playing takes away from the songs, kind of like Yngwie. The lead single for this album is a re-make of ‘Fool For Your Loving’ (originally the lead single on 1980’s READY AN’ WILLING) showing that Coverdale is following the same formula as he did with ‘Crying In The Rain’ and ‘Here I Go Again’. It’s a solid re-make with all the spit and polish of late ’80s production and Vai’s noodling during the solo. I actually like Vai’s take on this bluesier song because he plays within the song, not above it.

‘Now You’re Gone’ is the third single and is a mid-paced, keyboard-laced, tune that has more to do with AOR than Hard Rock…..sounds like an Asia song! I think of this as ‘Here I Go Again’ part 2 and it doesn’t work. Pair up ‘Kittens Got Claws’ with ‘Cheap An’ Nasty’ as the two mirror each other with more juvenile lyrics and slick production. Did Coverdale and Vandenberg go to Gene Simmons school of songwriting on this one? This is something I would expect from Vinnie Vincent era KISS…..or Vinnie himself! How many songs in ’89 had a line similar to “She’ll tease ya, please ya”? Too many. One of my favorites here is the fast ‘Wings Of The Storm’. Less keyboard, more guitar and almost Metal…..those are good qualities! Listen to the underlying main riff, it’s almost Power Metal! This should have been a single but it would have been too heavy for the current trends of the late ’80s.

The mid to late ’80s provided bands with a proven successful formula for hit singles: Heavy, fast rocker first, power ballad second, mid-pace and/or hard rock song third. Whitesnake follow the formula perfectly: first was ‘Fool For Your Loving’, third was ‘Now You’re Gone’, and sandwiched in the middle was the power ballad ‘The Deeper The Love’. It’s your basic love sick ballad with big guitars, keyboards, and sing-a-long lyrics. I call it ‘Is This Love’ (part 2) because that’s what it is, ‘Deeper’ doesn’t stray too far from the previous style right down to the video featuring Tawny Kitaen. The years have been kind to this song because it gets overshadowed by ‘Is This Love’, hence it doesn’t get overplayed and I consider it one of the better ballads of the decade for that reason alone.

I saw Whitesnake live a few years ago with the Scorpions and they played ‘Judgement Day’, I had forgotten what a cool song it was! This is the mid-paced song that should have been a single instead of the sappy ‘Now You’re Gone’. ‘Judgement Day’ is heavy with the keyboards lending depth to the main riff. Sounds like old Whitesnake with David using his deeper, bluesier drawl. I’m impressed with Vai as his solo is clean and not overbearing while the main riff stays simple and powerful. Same with ‘Slow Poke Music’, it’s heavy and sounds like older Snake. There’s a groove here that is missing on more than a few tracks on this record, it’s the attitude that made SLIDE IT IN (1984) and the s/t ’87 album what they were and it’s here! I would have liked to hear a little more of this attitude on some of the other songs. Ballad #2 is the album’s closer, ‘Sailing Ships’. This is a superb song, how this wasn’t a single is beyond me. I understand that ‘The Deeper The Love’ follows the trends of the time but ‘Sailing Ships’ has that Classic Rock sound, that Led Zeppelin quality to it that translates well into radio. Definitely Led Zep sounding until the last couple of minutes when Coverdale starts using his higher register and Vai solos it up. I think if ‘Now You’re Gone’ charted high, Whitesnake could have released this and come up with another hit ballad.

Bottom Line:
This record has aged well over time and I reach for it much more than I do the ’87 record. The album starts off heavy but then the next four songs basically play down to the stereotypical late ’80s cock rock style. The songs are decent but too juvenile, over the top, and predictable. I’m not big on the continued recycling of older material again but ‘Fool For Your Loving’ is solid and does the job. Same with ‘The Deeper The Love’, it’s predictable but it does the job. So what we have here is an album with half the songs sounding like any band from the end of the decade could do them and the other half sounding like vintage Whitesnake. If you can look past ‘Cheap An’ Nasty’ and ‘Kittens Got Claws’ and take them for what they are then this album is more ballsy. Favorite songs: ‘Judgement Day’, ‘Sailing Ships’, ‘Wings Of The Storm’, ‘Slow Poke Music’ and ‘Slip Of The Tongue’. For the record, I like the three proper singles, especially ‘The Deeper The Love’, but these other songs are far superior.

 

Website Spotlight: Whitesnake.com

Whitesnake.com

Obviously, Whitesnake.com is the band’s, and David Coverdale’s, official website. What is cool about the website is that is scrolls from side to side. Sorry, small details like that amuse me! Anyway, there is a large MEDIA section with live songs and videos. The FEATURES section gives you all the latest Whitesnake news & tour info, there’s a BBS and an online store. The section I enjoy the most is the ARCHIVES. It has a cool discography from David’s Deep Purple days to present, there are interviews, magazine covers, photos and even games! You can tell that Coverdale has taken the time to make sure his website is unique and fan-friendly.

WANTED: Whitesnake – Lovehunter (1979) & Starkers In Tokyo (1997)

WANTED

Whitesnake – Lovehunter (1979)

This is a quick add in to my WANTED list. I own this CD but I need a replacement because there is a big scratch on the disc! I was playing it the other night and about halfway through it started skipping like crazy! Pulled it out and noticed the scratch. I’m usually on top of these things and I have no idea how it got scratched, maybe when we moved into this house? I tried a CD fixer but it didn’t work…..so it goes on the list! This is also one of my favorite album covers of all time.

Whitesnake – Starkers In Tokyo (1997)

I’ve passed on this live unplugged album for a long time. I’ve seen it plenty of times in the local record shops but, because it’s a Japanese import, the price ranges from $20-$30 depending on the store. It’s just David Coverdale singing and Adrian Vandenberg on acoustic guitar performing for a small audience in Tokyo, Japan. I’m a sucker for “unplugged” albums so this is something I want to hear.

Whitesnake – ‘Slow An’ Easy’, ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’, & ‘Guilty Of Love’ (videos, 1984)

Here’s a few videos from the SLIDE IT IN (1984) album. I tried to find the proper videos for ‘Slide It In’ and ‘Standing In The Shadow’ but the quality was extremely poor on the ones I found. If I find others, I will add them in later.

‘Slow An’ Easy’

‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’

‘Guilty Of Love’