Singer David Coverdale has come a long way since his Deep Purple days, and his band Whitesnake have long since progressed from their blues roots of the early 80s. With the world-wide success, especially since 1984’s Slide It In and 1987’s Whitesnake (the latter signalling a more commercial direction), it’s perhaps easy to overlook the three albums Ol’ Cov’ made with Deep Purple in the mid 70s.
It’s been four years since the last Whitesnake outing (2011’s Forevermore) and, with guitarist Doug Aldrich having moved on, the band consists of guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra, bassist Michael Devin and long-time drummer Doug Aldridge.
This album, as the title suggests, is a hark back to Coverdale’s Purple daze, as it is 13 tracks (at least on the basic edition) of Deep Purple songs from that 3 album mid 70s period, recorded by the current Whitesnake line-up.
Tribute album, covers album, a hark back, whatever you want to call it, this is Whitesnake playing Coverdale era Deep Purple. The idea stemmed from a proposed reunion of sorts between original Purple (and original Whitesnake) keyboard maestro Jon Lord and Coverdale before the former fell ill. And his absence is one of the foremost issues with such an album. More later.
The opener ‘Burn’ features that classic and memorable riff, and strong solid vocals. But it immediately highlights 2 major (burning) issues (vocals aside, we all get older, shit happens, live / deal with it of fuck off, and they’re still in the main strong here);
Firstly, the soul (and blues and jazz) that the era’s Deep Purple is long gone, and this is a little dry. Second, the shred, overplayed. The keyboard and guitar solos are all excellent (and so they should be), but it was the guitar / keyboard interplay that was the backbone to Deep Purple’s chemistry. Yes ‘Burn’ is excellent and it rocks, but a case of do it properly or do it differently, and on that note I prefer the Wasp version.
‘You Fool No One’ is a great track and the vocals stand out. The timing / phrasing works well here.
‘Love Child’ is a lesser known period track and is hard, rocking, but the music nods more to Hendrix than Purple, Cov’s vocals aside.
‘Sail Away’ and The Gypsy are given good workouts (the aforementioned issues throughout yet aside).
‘Lady Double Dealer’ is an uptempo classic, but the drums sound tinny compared to Paice’s original.
A lengthy (7 minute +) ‘Mistreated’ has been a live staple for both Rainbow and Whitesnake, and while the vocals are spot on (well, as near as), it is as dry as it is solid and heavy.
‘Night Just’ Take Your Life’ opens with some slide, but the rest of the track slips by.
‘You Keep On Moving’ is better, it’s smoother, less dry, it just works.
‘Solder Of Fortune’, another Purple track that’s been a regular in the Whitesnake set, is more a Coverdale solo track. His voice is darker and deeper now, more mellow, can’t knock that, a good track with a different feel.
‘Lay Down Stay Down’ opens with some shred that turns it into more of a typical US Era Whitesnake track.
‘Stormbringer’ closes in fine powerful fashion.
I’m in so many directions of feeling with this album; classic hard rock metal if you take absolutely NO history, but at what point does self covering go from tribute to joke via lazy is up for debate.
As I’ve said, the Deep Purple had more soul and (at the time) even jazz than Whitesnake ever could or did, and given how far removed Whitesnake are from their own blues roots, this is an odd project. You can’t copy yourself when you’re not as good, yet they’re too close to be different. It’s why, as I’ve said, I prefer Wasp’s Burn. That said, it’s still good metal. Dry, but good. A full album is overplayed (like the solos) by far; one or two covers on a full album is both more sensible and realistic (enjoyable too) on so many levels. Good, fun, if not taken too seriously. Hope that Ol’ Cov’ can come up with a full original album soon. 7.2/10