Whitesnake are currently something of a force to be reckoned with. On the back of two very well received albums – ‘Good to be bad’ and ‘Forevermore’, the band recently released the 2 CD/DVD/Blu Ray set ‘Made in Japan’ only for this second live release to follow hot on its heels thanks to endless requests made by die-hard fans of the band. Available on double CD, this twenty-five track effort almost puts the previous release in the shade with its wide-ranging track-listing and powerful performances of old favourites (not to mention a few well-chosen covers) neatly demonstrating how Whitesnake have managed to remain at the top of hard rock’s precarious pile over the years. Once again featuring the band members Reb Beach and Doug Aldrich on guitars, the monumentally talented (but sadly no longer part of Whitesnake) Briian Tichy and Michael Devin on bass, this supremely able line-up (surely the best Whitesnake has ever had) is capable enough, raw enough and passionate enough to turn in performances that burn out of the speakers, giving but a small indication of how powerful these performances must have been on the night. And then, of course, there is the ringmaster – the irrepressible David Coverdale who, to these ears, sounds utterly phenominal – just listen to his heartfelt and stunning performance on ‘Forevermore’s’ wonderfully emotive title track if you have any doubt at all.
Unlike ‘Made in Japan’, this particular release draws upon recordings from the entire 96 date / 35 country spanning world tour, and, following the completion of the aforementioned DVD, the dedicated trio of David Coverdale, Doug Aldrich and Mikey Mac sat down to the unenviable task of sifting through 130 hours of recorded material to find the best possible performances for this release. It’s a tactic that has paid off, because the result is a spectacular live album that captures Whitesnake at their very peak for each and every performance and yet, remarkably, sounds as a warm and intimate as a single show thanks to careful editing and the inclusion of David’s always engaging between-song raps. You can hear the roar of the crowd, feel the power of the musicians as they delve deep into the snake’s insanely brilliant back catalogue and revel in a track-listing that spans the entire history of one of hard-rock’s most consistently thrilling bands.
Unsurprisingly, as it comes from the same tour, the set list covers much the same ground as ‘made in Japan’, at least on the first disc (which is more or less identical) but where this release initially seems to re-tread familiar territory, disc two is a positive revelation, offering up a blistering twelve tracks not on the last release, thus guaranteeing fans who buy both efforts will be duly pleased with the variety of material available. It is these tracks – the rarely heard, the brilliantly rendered (by all musicians present) and the perfectly recorded – which will have you reaching for the disc in your local CD shop. David Coverdale has never been one to short change his fans and with this perfect opportunity to present the very best of Whitesnake 2013 he has dug deep to deliver what can only be considered a dream set list for the long-term ‘snake fan.
So, what does the second disc offer? Kicking off with ‘bad boys’ form the band’s eponymous album, it’s a wild and bawdy trawl through the band’s history. Hits such as ‘slide it in’ sit next to the insane guitar wizardry of ‘pistols at dawn’ whilst a rousing ‘can you hear the wind blow’ (from ‘good to be bad’) shows that David Coverdale and his merry band of miscreants have lost none of the fire that made them huge in the first place. Also worthy of mention is the acoustic led ballad ‘one of these days’, a track that neatly draws on David’s ability to pen a sincere, heart-felt ballad without making it sound trite. It is that skill that has kept Whitesnake alive over the years – that unfailing ability to draw upon an encyclopaedic knowledge of music that has kept David Coverdale at the top of his game, and as he unleashes that legendary roar you can’t help but feel the atmosphere of the gig surround you.
Overall there is no such thing as too much Whitesnake. Sure we got the ‘made in Japan’ album a mere six months ago, but in using the latest technology to stitch the very cream of each gig together what you get here is a nigh on perfect gig. David Coverdale is singing comfortably within his range and sounds better than ever, his rich tones always a pleasure and the current line up… well, hell, it rocks like the mighty beast we always knew Whitesnake to be. For fans this is a no-brainer – Whitesnake simply encourage (and deservedly so) the sort of adulation that most modern bands would kill for and for the uninitiated (surely no-one in the rock world could be??) then this is a taut, energetically paced selection that will see those yet to understand the power of the snake initiated with a vengeance. Power, poise and passion have always been David Coverdale’s stock in trade and ‘made in Britain’ is no exception – long live the snake!!!