WHITESNAKE – MADE IN BRITAIN

madeinbritain-600

Out now on Frontiers

Hot on the heels of Made In Japan, this is the second Whitesnake live album in six months.

Is David milking it, or does this album offer something different?

Many people, including myself, took offense to Made In Japan’s rather poor, bass heavy production.

Somebody paid attention, as this album sounds a lot more enjoyable. It’s still quite boomy, maybe Dave’s targeting the Fast And Furious crowd now? Both guitar players, as amazing as they are, could do with a few tweaks to their buzzy tone as well…

As for the track listing, there’s little to no surprises on disc one. Indeed, disc one features the exact same set-list as Made In Japan, with the solo spots replaced by some regular tracks.

Disc two offers a wider selection of tracks, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard recently. DC seems to have mostly forgotten his pre-Slide It In albums. On the one hand it’s cool to see a band include songs from the later albums into the set-list but on the other hand the old Whitesnake fans are left wanting. The Burn/Stormbringer medley could easily be replaced by some genuine old school Whitesnake tunes…

Of course the band is spot on, as one would expect from this lineup of seasoned pros. Coverdale’s voice sounds quite passable as well. I suspect some minor studio enhancements might be in play. Ahem…

If you don’t already own Made In Japan, you may want to get this one instead, because it has more songs, production is better and the performances are quite similar.

Other than that, this is one for the fans and completists.

Rating – 80%
Review by Sancho (He wouldn’t lie to you just to get in your pants)

Advertisements

WHITESNAKE – MADE IN JAPAN

whitesnake-made-in-japan

Out now on Frontiers

Another live offering from Whitesnake, and whilst there is no denying the strong recent studio output one does question the seemingly endless live releases of late (and with the prospect of more to come!).

So does “Made In Japan” offer up anything different than what’s come before? Aside from new cuts from the rather good ‘Forever More’ and dedicated solo spots one has to say no unless you count the acoustic versions and rehearsal tracks on disc 2.

Other than that this is rather dispensable, Coverdale’s vocals have certainly seen MUCH better days in the upper registers, and even the band downtuning cannot mask this fact.  The album also suffers from one clusterfuck of a bottom end mix, being overly distorted and bass heavy making this rather a piss-poor listen.  Did Elsie place mics in front the PA bass bins and record that one wonders?

Disc 2’s clearer sound only goes to highlight the poor sound on disc 1 and is by far more enjoyable.

As a long time Whitesnake fan I have to say I am rather disappointed. We’d suggest you look into Whitesnake axeman Doug Aldrich’s new Burning Rain album Epic Obsession instead.

Rating – 50%

BURNING RAIN – EPIC OBSESSION

burningrain

Out now on Frontiers

Burning Rain was always my favourite of Doug Aldrich‘s bands, with its high octane approach on both albums. After more than 10 years, Burning Rain is back with a brand new album.

Let me start off with the negative : it’s less intense than the first two. That doesn’t mean it’s a snoozefest like so many reunion albums turn out to be. It just lacks some of the mania of the older material.

And… that’s it as far as negatives are concerned. This is a great album with quite a big Zeppelin and Whitesnake influence. Doug’s killer guitar playing pervades every song and the band is tight as ever. The slightly more old school approach suits Keith St John’s voice very well.

No complaints about production either.

Highly recommended.

Rating – 90%
Review by Sancho, suffering from some pleasure burns.

VOODOO CIRCLE – MORE THAN ONE WAY HOME

voodoocircle_home

Released 22nd February 2013 on AFM Records

After two albums of 70s inspired hard rock with more than a little hint of Purple (and the major Purple descendants), Voodoo Circle have decided the time has come to update their sound.  Update meaning, in this instance, pull it into the 80s…

As opening track “Graveyard City” demonstrates, Whitesnake’s eponymous USA breakthrough album was a major inspiration this time around.  The trend continues with “Tears In The Rain”, where David Readman makes a even more concerted effort to emulate Coverdale.  “Heart Of Babylon” starts off with a whiff of Rainbow but the Snake soon takes over, whereas “Cry For Love” is a fairly generic power ballad.  “Alissa” is another subdued track that relies mostly on its groove. Not a highlight of the album.

“The Ghost In Your Heart”, yet another slower song, is fortunately followed by some more uptempo fare. “Bane Of My Existence” is classic Voodoo Circle while “The Killer In You” is another nod to the good year 1987.  Upon hearing the title track, you would be forgiven for picturing skanky redheads rolling lasciviously on Jags.

“The Saint And The Sinner”. Hmm, subtle…

“Victim Of Love” is a bit bland but album closer “Open Your Eyes” ends the album on a high with guitars and keys engaging in a Blackmore/Lord type of confrontation.

Axeman Alex Beyrodt toggles between Sykes and Blackmore throughout. He pulls off both with equal panache even if he can’t really match the frenetic onslaught that was Sykes in his heyday.  The keyboard sounds have evolved from the Hammond stylings of the first albums to the more stringy sounds that typified 80s radio rock.

A minor departure from their earlier sound but another highly enjoyable album from this German retro combo.

Rating – 87% (what else?)
Review by the ever ready an’ willing Sancho

Related Articles:
Voodoo Circle – Broken Heart Syndrome Review
Alex Beyrodt Interview  2011

SNAKECHARMER – SNAKECHARMER

snakecharmer

Released 25 January 2013 on Frontiers

Is there life after Whitesnake? There might be for Micky Moody and Neil Murray.

After an earlier attempt with Company Of Snakes, that didn’t quite deliver the goods, the former Snakes have regrouped as Snakecharmer. Musically there’s no surprises. Bluesy hard rock. So far so good. Where Company Of Snakes mostly failed because of the wimpy vocals, Chris Ousey does a better job, even if he’s no Coverdale. His voice does have a hint of Glenn Hughes to it, thankfully without the latter’s exaggerated histrionics. The band does a professional job and the songs are well crafted and quite catchy. Take “To The Rescue” for example, or the equally strong “Turn Of The Screw”.

While overall the production is solid, the buzzy guitar sound is particularly grating for this style of music. Murray’s trademark bass sits quite prominently in the mix.

Micky Moody and Laurie Wisefield do a great job on guitars, but does that come as a surprise to anyone?

Quite enjoyable if not spectacular by any means. As much as I like the current incarnation of Whitesnake, I can’t help but wonder what a reunion with Moody and a return to the old sound would bring. The songwriting on this album is actually stronger than it was on the latest Whitesnake albums.

Rating – 85%
Review by Sancho (he would lie to you, just to get in your pants).

JON LORD – RIP

It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Jon Lord, who suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism today, Monday 16th July at the London Clinic, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jon was surrounded by his loving family.

Jon Lord, the legendary keyboard player with Deep Purple co-wrote many of the bands legendary songs including Smoke On The Water and played with Whitesnake & many bands and musicians throughout his career.

Best known for his Orchestral work Concerto for Group & Orchestra first performed at Royal Albert Hall with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969 and conducted by the renowned Malcolm Arnold, a feat repeated in 1999 when it was again performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the London Symphony Orchestra and Deep Purple.

Jon’s solo work was universally acclaimed when he eventually retired from Deep Purple in 2002.

Jon passes from Darkness to Light.

Jon Lord 9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012.

JORN – BRING HEAVY ROCK TO THE LAND

Out now on Frontiers

By now, a new Jorn release usually doesn’t hold much surprise. Jorn’s Coverdale cum Dio vocal stylings, underpinned by solid heavy rock, are dependable and solid, but sometimes let down by pedestrian songwriting.

On this new album the songwriting issue seems to have been tackled. There’s more attention to melody and less emphasis on downtuned plodding riffing. Even epic tunes like “A Thousand Cuts” manage to hold the listener’s attention for the duration, especially as they’re balanced by more uptempo fare such as “Chains Around You” or “Ride To The Guns”. Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like The Wind” is a bit superfluous, even if Jorn’s rendition steers closer to Saxon’s cover of the tune than it does the original.

Surprises? Hardly. Dio, Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake are the trusted ingredients in the mix. This time around, there seems to be more inspiration added in than on previous albums though.

Rating – 87%
Review by Sancho

WHITESNAKE – LIVE AT DONINGTON 1990

Out now on Frontiers

As someone who witnessed the Slip Of The Tongue tour, I have to say I raised an eyebrow when confronted with the prospect of a live album from this tour. As I remember the gig, Coverdale’s voice was shot, and there was remarkably little chemistry to the band.

Did I catch them on an off-night? This live album, taken from the band’s gig at the 1990 Monsters Of Rock, might tell… (the day where Thunder and Aerosmith blew them away -Ed)

The setlist is evidently firmly based on the ‘Slip Of The Tongue’ album. And from the off, it’s obvious Coverdale is straining. He’s singing way above his natural register, as he has been doing since 1987, and continues to do to this day. I guess having one of the all time classic soulful voices doesn’t cut it for Dave…

As long as he sticks to his natural voice (“Judgement Day” or “Is This Love” for instance), the magic is there. But then he insists on going Robert Plant on us and it all falls apart in a rather painful way. When he does get it together, like in “Slow And Easy”, it’s brilliant.

The band delivers a solid performance, if you can stomach Vai’s idiosyncrasies in the older tunes. Vandenberg is a better fit musically, and more than holds his own. Even if his solo spot starts off as a pastiche of Michael Schenker’s “Courvoisier Concerto”. The inclusion of some of Vai’s solo material makes it all the more obvious he was just using Whitesnake as a way to help further his solo career.

This recording sounds untampered. A bit messy even. It does add to the live mood. If they’d done overdubs, some of Coverdale’s more painful moments would have been cleaned up.

So, is this a bad album? Not at all. It captures Whitesnake at their commercial, if not musical, peak. I’d buy Live… In The Heart Of The City or Live… In The Still Of The Night before this one though.

If they’re going to be releasing old live material, how about the live video from Whitesnake’s first Donington gig, the rather good “Commandos”? That one’s long overdue for a DVD release.

Rating – 80%
Review by the aimed and firing like a gatlin gun Sancho.

WHITESNAKE – FOREVERMORE

Released 25th March 2011 on Frontiers Records

2008’s “Good To Be Bad” marked the return of Whitesnake as a force to be reckoned with.  Flawed in places, it nevertheless put Whitesnake back on the map as a valid hard rock band.  2011 brings the official follow up. “Forevermore” is the band’s debut for Frontiers Records.

From the opening salvo of “Steal Your Heart Away” the stage is set. There’s hints of older Whitesnake (not in the least because of the slide guitar that can’t help but bring to mind Micky Moody), there’s obvious links to the band’s commercial peak and there’s even references to the Coverdale/Page album.

First single “Love Will Set You Free” would not have been out of place on 1987. Neither would “Dogs In The Street” for that matter. “Tell Me How” adds a modern touch while retaining the classic foundation. The fans of old Whitesnake will be well served by “Love And Treat Me Right”.  The title track closes the album on an epic yet subdued note.

With a running time of an hour, the album borders on too long but they just about get away with it. The guitar tag team of Aldrich/Beach delivers as expected, backed up by the mighty Brian Tichy on drums. It’s no news that Coverdale’s voice has suffered over the years. “Easier Said Than Done” or “Fare Thee Well” are still guaranteed to get the ladies swooning though. He seems to have a better grasp of what his voice can handle compared to “Good To Be Bad”. Production is a lot better than it was on its predecessor even if there’s still a tendency towards artificial heaviness.

Overall a fine return to form.

Rating – 90%
Review by rough an’ ready Sancho.


VOODOO CIRCLE – BROKEN HEART SYNDROME

Released February 25th 2010 on AFM Records

When they are not delivering Teutonic metal during their day job, Alex Beyrodt and Matt Sinner like to relax with classic 70s rock. Voodoo Circle’s debut was an impressive calling card for everyone who likes Deep Purple inspired hard rock.

No big changes for the follow up. “Absolution Blues” kicks off proceedings in true vintage Whitesnake style. The opening riff to “King Of Your Dreams” owes more than a little to Purple’s “Perfect Strangers” but takes a twist towards Dougie White era Rainbow once it gets going. “Devil’s Daughter” references Purple Mk3 while “Blind Man” takes a more bluesy approach and hints at early Rainbow balladry.I think you get the gist of it. Purple, Rainbow and Whitesnake are the main inspirations here.  I don’t think anyone does this style of music better than Voodoo Circle at this point in time.

The songs stand strong with a solid foundation of skilled musicians. There’s no overplaying, there’s no filler. Beyrodt is a killer guitarist. Tasty, technical and melodic. The whole album is an example of great Strat tones. Yngwie, are you listening?  There’s more of a Coverdale influence in the vocals (“Don’t Take My Heart” for instance) than first time around. You won’t hear me complain… David Readman does an exceptional job.

Highly recommended for all lovers of old school hard rock.

Rating – 93%
Review by Sancho