Thursday, September 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Whitesnake (1987), by Whitesnake

In 1987 hair metal had reached its peak. No one into the genre did not have Whitesnake's self titled album Whitesnake in their collection. The singles Here I Go Again and Is This Love were and still to this day played constantly on the radio. This was Whitesnake's major commercial breakthrough, despite having success with their previous album Slide It In. This can be attributed to the fact that this is when the band went for the most popular and commercially popular sound at the time due to the big change in line-up and singer/band leader David Coverdale wanting a fresh start for the band. Previous to this album, Whitesnake had been more blues, R&B, and rock n' roll oriented.

Though Whitesnake came out in 1987, the process to create it began back in 1985 when Coverdale and guitarist John Sykes settled into a town in southern France. Soon after they began auditioning a new drummer because the previous one had quit. By the time they found Aynsley Dunbar they had gone through 60 drummers. During the recording process however, Coverdale got a sinus infection and needed surgery. This resulted in him also needing a 6 month rehabilitation program which made Sykes impatient and wanting to bring in a new vocalist. This lead to Sykes being fired and Dutch guitarist Adrian Vandenburg to record the solo for Here I Go Again and replace him full time. Not long after other members of the band were let go and almost none of the musicians who played on the album toured to promote it. Whitesnake was eventually released April 7, 1987 and spawned five successful singles.

This is actually not the first time Here I Go Again was on a Whitesnake album. It was originally written and recorded by a different line up of the band for their 1982 release Saints & Sinners and had a much more churchy music meets rock feel to it. However, I digress. The version on this album that everyone knows starts off with a soft synth keyboard intro that Coverdale then starts singing very soulfully over. You can really feel the emotion he is trying to get across. Then of course the rest of the band comes in and makes the song kick some serious ass. It's fun to head bang to. Surprisingly the solo that Vandenburg recorded fits well with the tone of what Sykes recorded for the rest of the song. However, it's Coverdale who really shines through in this song; especially when he hits his high notes.

One of my personal favorites from Whitesnake is the song Crying in the Rain. This song also appeared on Saints & Sinners, but in a different style. The new version opens the album with an absolute punch, followed by Coverdale absolutely howling away and making you feel the pain within his heart. Though Crying in the Rain sounds much more metal on this album, you can still feel the bluesy vibe. The crowning achievement of the song however is Sykes's guitar solo. Holy shit. His fingers absolutely fly across the fretboard for quite an extended period during this. This solo proved that Whitesnake was just another band that was all about the image and flash. No, these guys could PLAY. I have never heard anything like it before or since.

Whitesnake is by no means my favorite Whitesnake album, as I am more a fan of their older stuff. However, that doesn't mean I don't love it to death. It's loud, brilliantly composed, and showcases a lot of talent from both David Coverdale and John Sykes. It really is a shame that they couldn't have worked more together. This is hair metal with some real technical and skillful prowess behind it. If you love 80's music or heavy metal in general and you don't have Whitesnake already then shame on you!

Whitesnake (1987), by Whitesnake receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track Listing:

1. Crying in the rain '87
2. Bad Boys
3. Still of the Night
4.  Here I Go Again '87
5. Give Me All Your Love
6. Is This Love
7. Straight For the Heart
8. Don't Turn Away
9. Children of the Night

Buy the album on Amazon:

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