Wednesday, 23 March 2011

WHITESNAKE - Forevermore

forevermore

David Coverdale may be the only original member of Whitesnake to appear on ‘Forevermore’, but even so, the band sounds unshakably confident throughout their eleventh studio release. The twin guitar attack of Reb Beach (ex-Winger/Dokken) and Doug Aldrich (ex-Dio/Bad Moon Rising) make a fairly uncompromising frontline and ex-Pride and Glory drummer Brian Tichy provides a hefty punch behind the drumkit. One of the other things which quickly becomes apparent about ‘Forevermore’, is that it captures Coverdale in (mostly) good form throughout – often sticking to his bluesier voice (as heard on the latter Deep Purple and earlier Whitesnake discs). Naturally, his rock voice also appears in places, but even then, only on numbers where it seems perfectly suited.

The opening number ‘Steal Your Heart Away’ sets the scene with a blues-tinged slice of hard rock topped with unsubtle slide guitars. Coverdale’s voice sounds suitably scratchy and sits well with the musical mood. A solo split between Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach promises more than it eventually delivers, but overall, this is a number based on groove factor as opposed to just notes and flash. ‘Love Will Set You Free’ is loaded with harmony vocals and is driven by a classic sounding riff. It’s a number which very much harkens back to their formative, pre-Mel Galley years, where blues-rock was the order of the day. While Tichy’s drumming style is much heavier than that of Ian Paice, there’s a vibe here which is reminiscent of their ‘Ready an’ Willing’ sound.

‘I Need You (Shine A Light)’ moves things into a more cod-rock direction and with it comes fronted with Coverdale’s rock voice. It doesn’t sound especially natural for him singing in this style and doesn’t greet the ears well as his bluesier tones, but even so, this still manages to be an okay track, thanks to a big sing-along chorus and backing harmonies. It’s not essential Whitesnake by any means, but quite fun all the same. For those who found Whitesnake during the late 80s, ‘Easier Said Than Done’ should appeal with its solid AOR sound; it has a mid-paced delivery and Coverdale is particularly fine voice. It’s Coverdale who steals the show on this track, but even so, Reb Beach’s clean-toned guitars and tasteful solo also provide some stand-out moments.

The acoustic guitars at the centre of ‘One of These Days’ showcase the soft side of the band, and unsurprisingly, Coverdale sounds superb delivering a softer vocal. The electric lead guitar work which creeps in is incredibly tasteful, particularly towards the end, where Beach and Aldrich are captured in a classic sounding twin harmony. It’s great to hear Coverdale getting properly sentimental, as opposed to his previous feelings of “lurve”, which often had all the class of a quick grope behind some bushes. Maybe writing with Doug Aldrich has bought a calming influence? Even ‘Love and Treat Me Right’, which normally would get the warning lights flashing, isn’t quite as sexually charged as Coverdale would have once made it. It’s potentially cringe-worthy aspects can be overlooked in favour of the pounding rock riff and Doug Aldrich’s showy solo. [The album isn't completely without the old Coverdale “charm” though, and it would have been churlish to expect otherwise. The sexual overtones are definitely played down compared to the earlier days, though].

For those looking for more great blues-rock, ‘Whipping Boy Blues’ delivers in spades. While David Coverdale’s squealy approach can grate on occasion, here, it’s the natural choice for such a Zeppelin-esque arrangement. Throw in some great soloing from both Aldrich and Beach, a rock solid bass line from Michael Devin, topped with crashy drums from Brian Tichy, and it presents the sound of an old-school band that isn’t to be messed with.

Things step up a gear for ‘My Evil Ways’ – a full-on boogie-rock number which showcases Brian Tichy’s powerhouse drumming style. Something this throwaway ought to feel like filler material, but the energy and tightness driving this incarnation of Whitesnake means they pull it off with aplomb...and just when things are in danger of slowing down, Aldrich and Beach step up to exchange high energy solos. This is certainly a number destined for great live performances.

The title cut is a seven minute epic, starting gently with acoustic guitars and keyboards. Coverdale adopts a very restrained vocal style, conjuring memories of the classic ‘Starkers In Tokyo’ acoustic live disc. As the music builds, Reb Beach and Michael Devin add harmony vocals, before the band crank things up with an Eastern sounding arrangement which (as is often the case with such things) tips the hat to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’. It’s a well-thought out and brilliantly arranged closing number, capping off an already decent disc.

‘Forevermore’ is a surprisingly consistent album, with each of the thirteen Coverdale/Aldrich penned tracks offering the listener some top quality tunes. However, while the hard edges are somewhat refreshing in the same way as it’s predecessor (2008’s ‘Good To Be Bad’), like that album, it feels like a release chiefly for the Whitesnake die-hards. More casual listeners may be better of sticking with their copies of ‘1987’ and ‘Live In The Heart of The City’.


March 2011

2 comments:

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