David Coverdale: White Snake
David Coverdale was Ian Gillan's replacement when Gillan left Deep Purple. Both men are very good vocalists, but Coverdale has the most soulful voice of the two. His love for Blues, Funk and Soul was the reason for the shift in style when he entered the band but it became even more evident on the first solo album he released after Purple's first breakup. The album was titled 'White Snake' and that's a small taste of things to come, because less than two years later he adopted the name Whitesnake as his own band's name. A few members of the future Whitesnake are already present on this solo album. The guitarist Micky Moody is one of them. Another musician I should mention here, is the drummer Simon Phillips, who is probably also not a stranger to you if you're interested in Rock history. Ex-Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover handled the production.
Although this album bears the same name as his later Hard Rock outfit only the title song resembles the stuff he would later release. That's because it's the most straight ahead Blues Hard Rock song present. The rest of the album is a more soulful affair. That is of course the reason why the many Whitesnake-fans never bothered to give it a listen. They should, though. It's different but just as good as 'Saints and Sinners', Whitesnake's best album, and a way of a lot better than the slick hair metal that finally got Coverdale mainstream success (I'm of course talking of Whitesnake's best selling album '1987'* with its inferior version of 'Here I go again').
There are eight songs on 'White Snake'. I already mentioned the title track. Here are a few more:
'Lady', with its background singers, horns and Moody's fluent slide guitar is an upbeat sounding Soul Rocker that'll put you in a good mood.
'Blindman' is a semi-ballad that puts Coverdale's voice to perfect use. Again Moody's slow guitar melodies (in the second half of the song) lift the song to an even greater height.
'Goldies Place' is slow, funky and laid back and shows some similarities to Steely Dan material.
'Hole in the Sky' is a soulful ballad with a very strong chorus. If the album would've been a succes this song could've become a true classic.
Finally 'Celebration' is a Funk & Soul party song that'll bring you in a festive mood. It's energizing and an invitation to shake your lazy fat ass.
'White Snake' is a consistent album in the sense that the Soul aspect is always present and that the song writing is good throughout. At the same time it's varied, with introspective and slow songs on the one side and more upbeat sounding stuff and a few (relatively mild) Rockers on the other. All in all it's a good album and a lot more entertaining than Coverdale's second solo album 'Northwinds'.
But after 'Northwinds' the band Whitesnake would come into existence and that would be the start of a whole new and more succesful chapter in Coverdale's history. If you want to get to know the band at its best, forget everything they released in the second half of the eighties, unless you're into Hair Metal. Many rock critics and other invertebrae will be whispering at you from the undergrowth that '1987' is their best album. Let the master tell you that it's not. It's just their most commercial. While it does have a few decent tracks ('Still of the Night', for example), overall it would've been a pretty faceless product if it weren't for Coverdale's recognisable voice. If it's simply quality you're after, and also if you're into Classic Rock and Blues based Hard Rock, listen to their late seventies and early eighties output instead and especially to 'Saints and Sinners' that still stands as their finest release ever. But of course, if you're into that kind of music, you probably already know the band well enough.
(* Note = in the US this album was released as 'Whitesnake' with a different track order).