Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Whitesnake Live At Donington 1990 - Album Review - They Got Too Good
The man beside me was my boss at the time, guitar legend Michael Schenker, someone Coverdale obviously hadn't planned on seeing in New Orleans in March of 1990. They exchanged smiles, and David returned to the business of being the best frontman in hard rock, leading a band equipped with terrifying horsepower. Neither Coverdale, nor Schenker realized that their time was about up - they both had records high on the charts, but were about to be put to pasture by an out of tune, bitter band from the Northwest - Nirvana. They had made the fatal mistake, the mistake that put hard rock and metal on the shelf for the next decade - They got too good.
Whitesnake 1990. After four years of being at the top of the heap of the hard rock world, Coverdale put together his most talented touring outfit, featuring guitarists Steve Vai and Adrian Vanderberg, bassist Rudy Sarzo, and legendary drummer Tommy Aldridge. They packed out arenas across America, and Europe to great notices, and co-headlined for the second time, The Monsters of Rock at Castle Donington, perhaps the highest profile festival of its day.
There are those who will say that the best Whitesnake featured John Sykes and Cozy Powell, others will say no, Moody and Marsden, but while all these lineups were worthy of the Whitesnake moniker, this set reveals an amazingly powerful band. This may have truly been the culmination of 14 years of band-building for the British vocalist, who is surely at the top of his game on this fantastic document.
That night in New Orleans, I spent most of the evening at the side of the stage, sitting on Vai's dummy cabinet, which provided me with a rare glimpse of the naked Vai, with no effects added. I cannot remember ever being more impressed with a guitarist's performance, and mind you, this was at a time in which I heard Michael Schenker at the height of his abilities every night. He was that good.
Vai is not just a superbly original soloist, he is a stunningly good visual performer, and surprisingly a great rhythm player who leaves ample room for his co-pilot Adrian Vandenberg. Hearing this show some 22 years later, it is clear that musically, this was in many ways Vai's band onstage, and he drove it like a Maserati.
A few classic Whitesnke tunes later, and it's another solo slot, and Vai shows why he has had such a long, and successful career as the shredder's shredder. For The Love of God, Vai's first solo selection is taken off of Vai's top 20 album, Passion and Warfare, a record nearly as successful as Slip of the Tongue. A beautiful composition that is as beautiful as it is technically proficient. It's immediately followed by The Audience Is Listening, a chops fest that leaves one a bit worn, but appreciative.
Coverdale always takes the reins right back, and he delivers the goods with Here I Go Again, one of the best pop/rock songs of the decade. No matter how much the guitarists try, they never wrest the show from the man who fronted Deep Purple at California Jam. Coverdale is a man who, by virtue of his phenomenal abilities and success, was held to blame (quite unfairly) for all the excesses of the MTV '80s. All he ever did was to take the art to its apex. He rocks as hard as Ozzy, or Halford, but also has a soulful side that delivers ballads as well as rockers, and that is shown here magnificently. I quite imagine whoever sequenced this set knew both sides very well - there is never a moment in which it lags, and yet it never wears you out, either. It's more like a good lover - ever building, raising and releasing.
This set will place Whitesnake where they belong historically, beside the absolute finest bands of the '80s. It will also stand beside live records by Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin as documents of just how good hard rock could get.
They got too good - so good that the genre itself had to be taken down for a generation unwilling to work as hard as those who came before. Rock and roll may never again see a time in which skills, and mastery of the art form were so essential.
If you even think you like hard rock, this is a must have record. A fabulous achievement by a tremendously talented and exciting band, and as good a singer/frontman who has walked the walk, David Coverdale.
Release Dates: June 3, 2011 - Europe
June 7, 2011 - North America
CD1 : Slip Of The Tongue; Slide It In; Judgement Day; Slow An Easy; Kitten’s Got Claws; Adagio For Strato; Flying Dutchman Boogie; Is This Love; Cheap An’ Nasty; Crying In The Rain (featuring Tommy Aldridge Drum Solo).
CD2: Fool For Your Loving; For The Love Of God; The Audience Is Listening; Here I Go Again
Bad Boys; Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City; Still Of The Night.
DVD: Slip Of The Tongue; Slide It In; Judgement Day; Slow An Easy; Kitten’s Got Claws; Adagio For Strato; Flying Dutchman Boogie; Is This Love; Cheap An’ Nasty; Crying In The Rain (Featuring Tommy Aldridge Drum Solo); Fool For Your Loving; For The Love Of God; The Audience Is Listening; Here I Go Again; Bad Boys; Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City; Still Of The Night.
Bonus Features: The Making of Slip of the Tongue; Slide Show.