Whitesnake – “Flesh & Blood”
Label: Ward Records Inc
Review: Dawn Osborne
Whitesnake’s twelfth studio album, “Flesh & Blood“, (not counting the Purple album which was a special project all of its own, of course) provides excellent continuity honouring the Whitesnake legacy in so many ways while taking it into the 21st Century. With 15 original songs on the deluxe version, not to mention DVD extras, it’s bike shed loads of bang for your buck.
‘Good to See You Again’ is kind of the new answer as an opener to the classic closer ‘We Wish You Well’ although its higher energy reflects beginnings rather than endings. As a greeting song it will be an obvious choice to start shows as a direct crowd address: David Coverdale having always had a magical rapport with his fans live. Along with ‘Gonna Be Alright’ it’s a feel good song designed to take your cares away for at least the time you get to be at a Whitesnake gig or for listening at the end of a hard day’s work.
Coverdale’s voice is still super distinctive and apart from the possibility of an occasional comparison with Robert Plant he really couldn’t be anyone else. As the video teasers for the album made clear the line up for Whitesnake is pretty stable now and the whole band has contributed to the album as a team effort and not as a backing band which undoubtedly improves the end result, as the band work super hard to please the ultimate perfectionist.
The first single, ‘Shut Up and Kiss Me’, has a joyful momentum reflecting the fact that Coverdale and the band still love what they are doing and while the lyrics may be slightly less sexual there’s still room for a few double entendres like ‘I’m so screwed’ which Whitesnake made an art form of. Although he has lived in the States for a very long time now Coverdale has always retained his naughty humour belying an ostensibly genteel British exterior with a wink.
‘Always and Forever’ channels ‘Saints and Sinners’ era Whitesnake when the band was in a transition period between blues rock and the metal era of the late eighties and offers the best of both worlds. ‘Trouble is your Middle Name’ and ‘Flesh and Blood’ are harder and closer in tone to ‘Still of the Night’ era Whitesnake.
‘Heart of Stone’ harkens back to the early blues rock days, my personal favourite Whitesnake period, that really shows off Coverdale’s deep sexy voice and for me will always be the best part of the ‘Snake heritage. ‘Get Up’ is fast paced, hard rock blues that could be one of the tracks from the ‘Trouble’ album with guitar playing closer to Moody and Marsden than anything Whitesnake have done of late, again something I love to see.
‘After All’ and ‘Can’t Do Right For Doing Wrong’ are soulful ditties closest in feel to the material from David’s solo period like ‘Into the Light’. Since his secret weapon is baring his heart and getting the audience to respond in kind it’s a welcome return to his roots and the territory where he really stands out from the rest.
‘Hey You’ and ‘Well I Never’ are epics like ‘Judgement Day’. There’s plenty of scope for the musicians to shine on the record and they are designed to be played super loud!
‘Sands of Time’ brings a Middle Eastern feel where the Whitesnake affinity with Zeppelin and Reb Beach’s influence from his work with Winger meet the grandiosity of Metal for an exotic adventure.
‘If I Can’t Have You’ is closest to material from the excellent ‘Forevermore’ album completing the circle and meaning that the album truly draws from every period of the band, so anyone who ever loved their records has something from their favourite seam of Whitesnake geological time.
The record is a fine blend of the melodic metal, the rock n roll swagger and the emotional bluesy intensity for which Whitesnake is known. They have brought more of the elements from pre 1987 material into the mix than they have on any other recent album and for me it truly encompasses the entire history of Whitesnake in one delicious banquet of tunes. If they continue to make records of this quality; marrying rock, metal and blues in their own particular way that no one else offers, I see no reason for Coverdale ever to hang up his monogrammed dress shirts for good.
David Coverdale – Vocals
Reb Beach – Guitar
Joel Hoekstra – Guitar
Michael Devin – Bass
Michele Luppi – Keyboards
Tommy Aldridge – Drums