You Hear The
Call On Me
I Want All I Need
To Be Bad
Down Your Love
Fool In Love
What You Need
The End Of Time
April 22, 2008
Good To Be Bad
Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, Robert Plant, Ian Gillan and David Coverdale:
The five voices that, from the late sixties and early seventies
onward, defined the history and legacy of hard rock (and, par consequence,
metal). And they're still in the game in 2008 with only one of them,
Ozzy, turned into a real parody. What about Coverdale? The main
question I had upon listening to Good to Be Bad, the first Whitesnake
album in over a decade, was: 'Would it be credible?'
know, it's far too easy to state that these guys are too old to
rock and to sing about wild nights with scarcely clad women. Think
Gene and Paul, still singing about a sixteen year old girl that
has been around but that's still young and clean, know what I mean?
At a point, it becomes embarrassing. But no, it's unfair, because
it's what these guys do. And it's what they do best. What else is
there to do; Coverdale, switching to drum 'n bass, synth pop or
R&B? No thank you.
course there was one alternative road David Coverdale could've taken.
The road Robert Plant walks upon as we speak. Plant settles himself
nowadays in the rootsy corner of the Americana music, in the pleasant
company of bluegrass queen Alison Krauss. And he gains a lot of
success and positive reviews by doing so.
But no, Coverdale sticks to what he knows best: macho type rock
with a somewhat bluesy undertone. To make that clear the new album
opens with a track that could serve as a mission statement: "These
are truly the best years of my life", Coverdale bellows. What's
immediately striking is the production: clear, impeccable, powerful.
Three words that could also describe Coverdale's voice, mind you.
The man is still in good shape.
always had a knack for bringing out great guitar players; Steve
Vai and Dutchman Ad Vandenbergh to name two. I'm not a big connoisseur
of the contemporary metal scene, so the new guitarist Doug Aldrich
was not a household name for me. But in my opinion, he manages to
deliver, switching effortlessly between heavy Jimmy Page-like riffs
and long, soaring notes.
to the main question Is it still credible? The answer
is twofold. First, there is a 'No.' I must admit that at a few instances
I thought: not only I'm too old for this, but these guys are too.
Especially in the middle section, the album has some weak spots.
Take the title track with its trifle lyrics. 'Sometimes it's good
to be bad / Bad to the bone'
. C'mon David, you could've done
better than that. Act your age, not your shoe size, David. For the
same reason the very average rocker like 'All for Love' just doesn't
work. Third time our hesitation crept in, was with All I Want All
I Need, the first of the three ballads on the album. Of course Whitesnake
couldn't leave out some mellow spots, since those very songs provided
some of the classic hits for the band. Nothing against it, but All
I Want All I Need is simply too calculated. Coverdale pulls out
his most husky bedroom voice, and in time a nice Gary Moore-like
guitar solo to bring the song home, catering to the needs of FM
Rock, with the formula shining through all too clearly.
the answer to the credibility question is also, I'm glad to say,
a 'Yes.' The second power ballad of the album, 'Summer Rain', benefits
from a more gentle approach and is 100% believable. Coverdale's
vocal rendition is even reminiscent of the Whitesnake version Ain't
No Love in the Heart of the City, or of the ballads on the memorable
Ready An' Willin' album. It's a track that brings to mind that once,
long ago, Whitesnake had one leg firmly planted in the bluesy clay
of the Mississippi Delta. Remember, their biggest hit 'Fool for
your loving' was originally intended for
Equally convincing is Lay down your love. It's even the standout
track of the album, kicking off with an a cappella intro, followed
by a vintage Led Zep riff and switching to a chorus, fit for large
arena's and stadiums. To top it off, Aldrich provides some great
solos in the middle section.
Does 'Good to Be Bad' serve as an all time high in Whitesnake's
body of work? Probably not. Will it make my end of year list? Probably
not. Did I enjoy listening to it? Sure.
OVERALL RATING: 6
Good To Be Bad
Scott "Dr. Music" Itter
me, Whitesnake represents the continuance of a legendary time in
rock and roll. When David Coverdale joined up with Ritchie Blackmore
and Deep Purple near the end of 1973, he added a new dimension to
an already successful formula. He gave the band a rough and bluesy
attitude with his great range and tone. The songs were lyrically
rich as well as musically urbane. When Coverdale started his Whitesnake
project in 1978, he brought all of those elements with him. With
songs centered on Coverdale's love of the blues, but with a hard
rock feel, Whitesnake earned my respect as a legitimate force. As
the project moved into the 80's, the songs lost a lot of their blues
edge and started to move toward a hard rock, radio friendly genre
that was being stereotyped as "hair metal." I could never
see Whitesnake as a "hair metal" band. Poison, Bon Jovi,
..okay, Whitesnake, no. Whitesnake just had so much
more sophistication and pure talent than most "hair metal,"
it was very difficult to discuss them in the same forum, and it
new album contains all the elements I enjoy about Whitesnake, and
more. I can hear moments that take me back to the bluesy, early
years of the band all the way through the band's musical history
to fully embrace the more electric aspects of where we are now,
as a band." - David Coverdale talks about "Good To Be
For the most part, Coverdale's perception is pretty accurate. "Good
To Be Bad" is definitely not "Snakebite" or "Lovehunter,"
but it does have some of the same tendencies as those early records.
Songs like "A Fool In Love" and "'Till The End Of
Time" have blues-based melodies that are very reminiscent of
early Whitesnake. Most of this record is set in the late 80's, though.
Coverdale surrounds himself with a stellar lineup that includes
guitarists Doug Aldrich (Dio, Lion, Hurricane) and Reb Beach (Winger,
Dokken, Night Ranger), bassist Uriah Duffy (Christina Aguilera,
Travers/Appice), keyboardist Timothy Drury (Don Henley, Stevie Nicks),
and drummer Chris Frazier (Steve Vai, Edgar Winter). To hear Coverdale
describe the album, "It's a very solid, muscular, melodic rock
record with a couple of fine ballads, so there's a little tenderness
when the moment calls for it, and of course the ballads help balance
out the chest beaters! I find it a very complete piece of work,
actually. It covers a lot of musical ground, a positive chapter
in the Book of Whitesnake." Again, I would agree with this,
for the most part. The first three tracks of the record, "Best
Years," "Can You Hear The Wind Blow?" and "Call
On Me" are excellent hard rockers that maintain a serious attitude
and reflect the integrity of the band's talent. And, the first ballad
of the album follows these three rockers, and it's a real beauty.
With a great hook and a sensational guitar melody and finely crafted
solo, this just might be the band's best ballad.
As the record returns to its hard rock purpose, we get the rambunctious
title cut. There's a nod to the "Slide It In" record here
with the "to the bone" line that was so effective with
that record's hit, "Slow An' Easy," but this song doesn't
come close to delivering the same wallop. This song flexes the instrumental
muscle that the band sports, but it lacks the lyrical integrity
that I look for in a great Whitesnake song. The following track,
"All For Love," is also one that just about any decent
"hair metal" band could've written. These two songs aren't
horrible, but they play into the hands of the "hair metal"
stereotype a little too nicely.
The second ballad of the record, "Summer Rain," is one
that coasts softly and has some nice guitar structure, but it's
really nothing to get too excited about. It almost plays out as
a simple diversion from the songs that surround it. It does break
up the monotony of having one heavy tune after another, but it really
doesn't do much as a standalone track. It does serve as an usher
to one of the better hard rock tracks on the record though. "Lay
Down Your Love" has the reckless vocal abandon that I love
to hear from Coverdale. It has the big sing-along refrain, and it
has a nice funk groove to it. It's lyrically shallow, but it packs
so much punch that it really doesn't matter.
"A Fool In Love" follows, and as I stated before, this
is a slight return to the Whitesnake of the 70's. This is a strong
song that needed to be heard a bit sooner, and a bit more often.
This is what Whitesnake was born from, and I think returning to
those roots more often is beneficial to the integrity of their music.
As I say this, the worst track on the album pops up. "Got What
You Need" is a lightning fast rocker that steals its melody
directly from the classic AC/DC song "Let There Be Rock"
and it thrashes about like a bad 80's L.A. band wearing too much
makeup. This song, and songs like it, cheapens the majesty that
should encompass the Whitesnake legacy. And oddly enough, the track
that follows is another return to the classic, blues based sound.
"'Till The End Of Time" has a very traditional blues structure
that is made into a dark and moody ballad. The song isn't terribly
exciting, but it is an arrangement that represents the band well.
I have mixed feelings about this release. It has been 11 years since
the last Whitesnake release, which was "Restless Heart,"
an album that remains unreleased in the U.S. The last U.S. release
was "Slip Of The Tongue" in 1989. Either way you look
at it, this album is a long time coming. With that kind of time,
I feel that there should be some better material, and perhaps more
of it. There are 11 tracks here - that's an average of one track
per year. That's not exactly prolific. Now I might feel differently
if I loved everything on this record, but I don't. Most of these
songs are good, but when there are only 11 tracks and you can do
without 4 of them, it's hardly a recipe for success.
Don't get me wrong, this is a record that shows us a singer in fine
form. Coverdale gives an impressive performance, and sounds like
he did in the band's heyday of the late 80's. The band is one that
is perched at the top of the talent tree, also. There are solid
performances all the way around. It's the shallow songwriting on
a few of the tracks that keeps this record around average. And,
as a U.S. citizen, after 19 years between releases, I expect slightly
better than average.
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