Whitesnake – “The Purple Album”
May 18, 2015
I really feel for David Coverdale – no matter what he does, some “fans” are never satisfied. “Not as good as ‘Purple”/”Not as good as the first Whitesnake line up”/ “Coverdale’s voice isn’t what it was” and so it goes on. So now we have the first Whitesnake studio album for four years and, guess what? The brick bats were flying even before people had heard the record! Why? Apparently because DC has had the audacity to re-visit the songs that he made his name with in the days of Deep Purple. So, I am a fan of Whitesnake and (shoot me now) particularly from “1987” onwards (though not so much of the time with a certain Mr Vai). Just like pretty much every line up of the band since then, Mr Coverdale has surrounded himself with a VERY strong band of musicians. Sure they veer more towards the latter period rather than the more bluesy style of Moody, Marsden, et al but what musicians. Newboy Joel Hoekstra knows his way around a guitar neck and is not restricted to simply rehashing hair metal/AOR guitar stylings – his career has involved being the main guitarist for Rock of Ages on Broadway, Night Ranger and The Trans Siberian Orchestra … no slouch then, and his partnership with Reb Beach, on this album at least, seems much more evenly balanced and complementary than the guitar pairings of the last few years. I should also admit that Deep Purple is a band that kind of passed me by (more sacrilege by me?) so I come to this record with something of a blank canvas. To my ears what we have here is a classic Whitesnake album that should be considered to be one of their best since their 1987 re-invention. The few songs that I was aware of seem to have been given a magical makeover filled with an energy that reflects the power of the band that DC has surrounded himself with. From the opening notes of the classic track “Burn”, to album closer “Stormbringer”, Whitesnake are back and better than ever. Songs like “Lady Double Dealer”, “Soldier of Fortune” and “Sail Away” are given a new energy in the very capable hands of the current Whitesnake lineup featuring David Coverdale on vocals, Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra on guitars, Michael Devin on bass and Tommy Aldridge on drums.
The Purple Album is a re-imagination of classic songs from David Coverdale’s time as the lead singer for Deep Purple’s Mark 3 and Mark 4 studio albums. “It’s a tribute. A homage. It’s a huge thank you from me to Deep Purple for the opportunity I was given over 40 years ago,” state’s Coverdale. “As I said to Ritchie, you guys set me on an incredible journey that continues today and I couldn’t have asked for better teachers. The University of Deep Purple was an extraordinary, amazing school to learn from. We can’t wait to play these songs in concert!”
As for the voice? Well, if you’d been singing like Mr Coverdale for over 40 years don’t you think that your voice would change substantially? Sensibly, the arrangements have included key changes to suit the more mature range of his voice and if people mention occasions when the other vocals are louder than his – check out Whitesnake at Donington in 1990 or, for that matter, Purple when Glenn Hughes’ voice would cut through and over DC’s. Like I said, he really can’t win with some people – but perhaps they might just change their minds when they actually hear the album?
By David Wilson