Whitesnake's self titled album is likely one that is taking up space on your shelf but hasn't been dusted off for awhile. I would know, because my copy had largely suffered the same fate until recently. Every now and then then nostalgia bug bites and its time to resurrect a classic. After a good amount of time spent cozying up to WS's US releases, "Slide It In", "S/T", and "Slip of the Tongue", this one stood out as the clear winner. A perfect blend of blues, metal and raw sex appeal, even if some of the more popular songs were remade ones from the band's back catalogue.
I don't believe WS ever recieved a fair shake in the States. Originally, perhaps, but not in the time following their popularity spike. Most people saw Coverdale's piece, Tawny Kitean shaking her groove thang and doing provocative splitz on expensive British sports cars, took a peek at the band's feathery huge hair and wrote them off as a glam band/hair metal outfit without a look back. Nevermind the fact they had been toiling across the pond with a variety of bluesy hard rock albums such as "Saints N Sinners", "Lovehunter" and the 1977 debut of the 'Snake, appropriately titled "Snakebite" - just to mention a few. In fact, the Brits ended up with the superior version of the self titled, called "1987" by the diehards to differentiate between the two. It included the fantastic soulbreaker "Looking For Love"
, one of the white serpent's most superbly executed and emotiontally taxing tracks, and the Americans never even heard it until the Greatest Hits CD came along years later. It must be added that this gorgeous, almost dream-like wistful musical journey in the search for love is one of my all-time favorite songs. Ever.
WS's S/T'ed album was a not-so hidden attempt at breaking it big inside the U.S. market. They lifted a few of their most promising songs from their bluesy laden Europe
an albums and put their pedals to the metal, erasing what was at this point, dated sounding Hammond organ bits and replacing it with tons and tons of gorgeous guitarwork. Like someone with a turkey injector set at Thanksgiving, they stuck the tube right in these reworked songs and pumped them full of juicy delicious goodness, making the meal an epic, and quite heavy one.
Mainstream radio was hit over the head with their hammer and the pop friendly powerful retooling of "Here I Go Again"
, which came out of the makeover looking slick. It was sizzling with a snazzy and unforgettable chorus. The kind of chorus that becomes almost like a personal energized conviction for the rogue soul in us all. Adrian Vandenberg's guest spot on the solo was a heart skipping moment. There was also "Is This Love"
in its debut, a soothing, sultry ballad that laid down a mesmerizing guitar harmony and vocals so passionately smooth its imagined it coaxed the skirts or jeans off of quite a few groupies back in the day. Again, this had a solo to dream of, pure Sykes at his finest, he really milks his electric for all its worth. Such sweet tenderness made hearts melt right before your eyes and appealed to the majority of the population. "Is This Love"
could be heard on everything from Top 40, to rock stations, adult contemporary/light rock and back again.
John Sykes was definitely on point with his guitar solos, blazing new territory for the sweaty stalker anthem, "Still of the Night"
. David's lustful howling cries set amongst the bombastic backdrop of thundering drums, pounding bass and guitars that were simply everywhere. "Crying in the Rain"
packed more soul than an acre of heaven and benefited with Sykes' rage of angels axework. Despite its metallic trappings, you couldn't deny its heart was painted in hues of the blues, retaining it's inner essence from its past life, and the resulting merge of metal mayhem with blues rock was a formidable one. It made this a terribly empassioned song that would turn on you suddenly like a wildcat and stomp that bleeding heart to the ground. The force of it all left that heart bruised and quivering from the damage done.
could be considered a throwaway piece but it has enough frolicking rocking to earn it visitation rights. The same could be said of "Children of the Night"
, which cranks it up to eleven and just blasts it and beckons, "come a little closer, get your fingers burned."
The repetitiveness of "Gimme All Your Love"
could argue the same case but redeems itself on the sole basis of its infectious chorus, crazy Sykes signature guitar shenanigans and a penchant for being jampacked with energy. These are quick and crammed with so much metal goodness that their sometime shallowness is forgiven.
Then there's "Don't Turn Away"
which radio ignored but it pulls through as one of their better efforts with the softer side of the serpent exposed. The vocals are represented by Covey's gentle, pleading performance, which transforms this into a massive melodic extravaganza with just the right touch of blues to balance the elements of the song but also provide a direct hat's tip to their British releases. He really belts it as it pleads for his lady love not to turn away before the night comes to a close without a booty call. "Straight For the Heart"
was also one that tapped into your emotions but in a more midtempo form.
"You're Gonna Break My Heart Again"
was always another favorite, and seems to be a sequel to "Don't Break My Heart
Again" from "Come N Get It". Before, he was hoping that heart wouldn't be a casualty, but part of the allure here is the fact he knows what the outcome will be. That heart's gonna be trampled but the journey is so tumultuous and thrilling that the resulting song is worth the self torture, and the sly and sadistic promises of making her regret any heart breaking that might happen in the near future is priceless vengance. It's freakin amazing that this was not included on the U.S. release. This and "Looking For Love"
seem like they would be absolutely essential to the album's success, and it suffers without their presence. I wonder who's brilliant idea it was to omit these two fantastic tracks? Those lucky non-Americans back in '87. We
didn't even know what we were missing or how essential these songs would come to be in the overall picture of the album. Just can't bear to think of WS's "S/T'd" being packaged without them!
Whitesnake's image (who none of the video darling musicians are actually playing on this album) and the lead singer's model/girlfriend/actress may have twisted the public's perception of the band. The buzz was positive initially when they came slithering through the States with "Slide It In" and even moreso when the hits began rolling out for this disc, but as the years passed the media turned on it's stance of heralding them as hair heroes, and the reception became not just sour, but hostile as the years wore on and flannel became all the rage in fashion. They were eventually written off as a footnote in MTV video history and as Led Zeppelin
copycats, which could have been true if that was stated for Kingdom Come, especially considering KC's media stunt, but Whitesnake? Puh-leeze.
WS went on to do "SOTT" which was overprocessed and had the soul of the six string twisted out and replaced by technical overindulgance by Steve Vai. Nearly a decade after the 1991 (or so) split, they reunited for "Restless Heart
" which was a throwback to their roots not only in sound, but also by being stranded in Europe
and Japan only for a very long time. But Adrian Vandenberg, who was cheated out of playing the material he wrote on "SOTT" thanks to an untimely accident, finally was able to get his due and shone like a diamond on the second WS album he helped to write.
"S/T" especially had it all. Unparalleled songwriting, excellent performances by top shelf musicians including the already mentioned Sykes, bassist Neil Murray and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. It also sported alot of melody beneath the metal exterior and pop friendly sheen and is definitely worth another look today. I encourage all that may have let the Snake dwindle from your collection to dig those dusty discs out and rediscover what a great combination of metal and blues is really like.
US version: 8/10
UK version: 9/10
Written by Alanna
Wednesday, October 5, 2005Show all reviews by AlannaRatingsAlanna: 9/10
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I Love this album, it's genius.
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