WHITESNAKE: FOREVERMORE (Frontiers)
14th March 2011
Whitesnake. For a decade between the late seventies and the end of the eighties that ludicrous moniker was a byword for by turns, bluesy hard rock of the highest order and then swaggering, sleek and sexy hair metal that sold by the bucketload and, in the shape of one album – 1987's '1987' – came to represent that much lampooned genre in all it's blowdried, power balladed finery.
After 1989's Slip of the Tongue 'Snake mainman David Coverdale lost his way a little – an ultimately ill-fated collaboration with Jimmy Page and a not entirely convincing solo album being the sum total of his output through the nineties – before, as so many of his peers before and since have decided to do, the man decided to have a go at recalling former glories with his old meal ticket.
2008 saw the release of 'Good to be Bad', an appealing attempt at mixing the two eras of Whitesnake, which was received with good grace by both fans and critics alike; it's success left the door open for Coverdale to extend Whitesnake's run a little longer, which brings us to 2011 and 'Forevermore'.
Put simply, 'Forevermore' finishes with complete success the work started by its predecessor. A scintillating melange of everything that made (and make) Whitesnake the finest band of its type. 'Forevermore' is the quintessential WS album.
Equal parts bluesy bluster and screaming Heavy Metal thunder, there isn't a second on this release that doesn't leave the listener baying for more. On 'Good to be Bad' there was a strong sense of a new band finding its way, particularly the band's two new guitarists Doug Aldrich (latterly of course the duty six stringer with Dio) and Winger's Reb Beach. Both men were learning the Coverdale way of doing things with the pressure really weighing on Aldrich who was also serving as Coverdale's writing foil.
On 'Forevermore', both men, confident that they now know their roles within the band play absolute blinders, managing to blend the bluesy stomp of the band's early guitar players (Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody) with the screaming Heavy Metal of 1987's John Sykes and the technoflash trickery of Steve Vai to sonically devastating effect.
Of course you can be the best guitarist in the world - but it all comes to nought if there are no songs - and luckily this album is not deficient in that department.
Album opener 'Steal Your Heart Away' is a barnstorming, big-bollocked, theatre-levelling shag anthem that sees Coverdale at his preening, caterwauling best, a song that'll have you standing on the sofa, trousers round your ankles bawling along with the goodtime chorus and playing frantic air guitar at the same time... and when Dave informs you we've 'got a first class ticket to the promised land' you have to believe him, such is the delirious conviction of the band's delivery.
The fun doesn't stop there, as 'All Out Of Luck' gets lowdown and dirty in a filthy display of obstreperous funk rock that is absolutely gobsmacking in its lasciviously priapic strut. They don't make 'em like this anymore, which makes this such an absolutely compelling listen.
Aldrich and Beach again come up trumps here with some delightfully greasy interplay and then we're off into the album's first single, which ticks all the boxes for such a release. 'Love Will Set You Free' is catchy as hell yet satisfyingly balls out into the bargain and, by the time the first ballad of the album – the exquisite 'Easier Said than Done' – has come and gone, you've got the gist of how this album is going to pan out – wonderfully.
Other highlights are the gonzoid 'Dogs In The Street', which is a successful revisitation of Bad Boys from 1987, whilst the elephantine title track sees Coverdale reactivating his Led Zeppelin obsession. But where 'Judgement Day', his last stab at a 'Kashmir' styled epic (from 1989's 'Slip of the Tongue' elpee) sounded self conscious and stilted and consequently missed the target by some distance, 'Nevermore' delivers bullseyes in spades.
By rights ol Mr Snake should be thinking about trading his mic stand in for a bus pass, but really, if he's still capable of pulling off the coruscating likes of 'My Evil Ways' at his age, is there any reason to stop? The answer to that, sirs and siresses, is a resounding NO!!!!