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Whitesnake – Live in ’84: Back to the Bone [Review]


Whitesnake – Live in ’84: Back to the Bone
2014, Frontiers Records

Snakeskin Boots: The Best of the Bootlegs
1. Gambler
2. Guilty of Love
3. Love Ain’t No Stranger
4. Slow An’ Easy
5. Walking in the Shadow of the Blues
6. Ready An’ Willing
7. Guitar Solo
8. Crying in the Rain
9. Soldier of Fortune
Super-Rock Japan ’84
10. Love Ain’t No Stranger
11. Ready An’ Willing
12. Slow An’ Easy
Jon Lord’s Final Whitesnake Performance (Medley)
13. Gambler / Guilty of Love / Love Ain’t No Stranger / Ready An’ Willing

David Coverdale – Vocals
John Sykes – Guitar
Mel Galley – Guitar (Track #13)
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Jon Lord – Keyboards (Track #13)

Additional Musicians:
Richard Bailey – Keyboards (Tracks #1-12)

Producer: David Coverdale & Michael McIntyre

OH MY GOD. This is the fourth live Whitesnake album in three years. ENOUGH. I love this band, but ENOUGH. Just put out the new studio album already! Truth be told, Live in ’84 was released as a DVD/CD combo package but all I have to go buy is the digital version of the CD. The DVD features more performances than the audio version.

I’m not really sure what’s going on with this release anyway. Did we really need two live versions of “Guilty of Love”, “Slow an’ Easy”and “Gambler” along with THREE live versions of “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and “Ready an’ Willing”? I don’t get it. And there’s not much information about these tracks or this album in general other than they are bootlegs from 1984 that have been cleaned up by David Coverdale & Michael McIntyre.

From what I’ve pieced together by researching online, tracks 1-9 are random bootlegs (presumably the best) that Coverdale was able to track down from various dates of Whitesnake’s 1984 Slide It In world tour. Tracks 10-12 are from August of 1984 at a festival called Super-Rock, which was held in Japan. Bon Jovi, Scorpions, The Michael Schenker Group and Anvil also played at the festival. Tracks 1-12 feature the band as the four-piece of Coverdale, Sykes, Murray and Powell. Guitarist Mel Galley had broken his arm and sat out the rest of the tour while Jon Lord had already left the band. Richard Bailey toured with the band as keyboardist and played off-stage.

Finally, there’s track 13, which is a medley that features Jon Lord’s final performance in the band before rejoining Deep Purple.

This live version of “Crying in the Rain” is particularly notable. Despite the professional bootleg quality, it’s a much stronger sounding song than the studio version. Look, all of the music here is good. Live Whitesnake is always good. I just question their rapid-fire delivery of live albums and the repeating of songs on this DVD/CD. Seems like something more appropriate for a box set. Had the track list varied, I’d look more favorably upon Live in ’84. This is a decent album but I recommend it only to die-hards.

Highlights: “Guilty of Love”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “Slow An’ Easy”, “Crying in the Rain”

Rainbow – On Stage

Rainbow – On Stage [Remastered] (1999, Polydor Records)
Original Release: 1977, Polydor Records

1. “Kill The King” … 5:31
2. Medley: “Man On The Silver Mountain/Blues/Starstruck” … 11:15
3.”Catch The Rainbow” … 15:36
4. “Mistreated” … 13:07
5. “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” … 7:37
6. “Still I’m Sad” … 11:05

Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – Guitar
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Tony Carey – Keyboards

Producer: Martin Birch

This seems to be one of those live albums that everyone likes to point to as a live-album-gone-wrong. Not really sure why. I can understand some of the bitching about the track listing but Ritchie has always done whatever he’s wanted to — fans be damned. So I’m sure he had his reasons for not including “Stargazer”, probably just to tick people off. Whatever the case was, with only the debut and Rising under their belt, I think the collection of songs here is just fine. Especially when you factor in the band debuts “Kill The King” from the forthcoming Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll album, plays Deep Purple’s “Mistreated” and basically plays an extended version of the songs.

I’ve even read some state this album is boring, that is lacks energy. I just don’t see it that way. I’m one of those guys that LOVES going to a concert and watching guitar solos and drum solos and all of that stuff. I don’t see how anyone who truly appreciates rock music or music in general can say stuff like that is boring. Just listen to Blackmore and keyboardist Tony Carey as they duel together in the middle of the medley. Listen to that bit of blues played in that medley as well. That’s great and classic stuff. I love it whenever a band stretches out a song in concert and segues in and out of different songs and solos. The crowd obviously was having a blast because they started clapping to a beat while Ritchie fiddles around in the middle of “Mistreated”.

This is one of the grandest and most epic live albums I have ever heard and not for one second was I bored with it. It’s like actually being there in concert. This is what you would have heard. Extended versions like these are where you really get to see a band act like a band and play off each other. It’s amazing. This a true classic featuring Ronnie James Dio and Ritchie Blackmore — two of the most legendary figures in the world of rock and metal. Essential listening as far as I’m concerned because the Dio era of Rainbow can really do no wrong.

Highlights: ALL!

BLACK SABBATH – Death Called ’89

Black Sabbath – Death Called ’89 (CDR bootleg)
Recorded: June 9, 1989 at the Manchester Apollo in Manchester, England

1. “Headless Cross” … 6:39
2. “Neon Knights” … 5:35
3. “Children Of The Sea” … 6:01
4. “Die Young” … 6:29
5. “Iron Man” … 5:08
6. “When Death Calls” … 7:07
7. “War Pigs” … 7:09
8. “Heaven And Hell/Paranoid/Heaven And Hell” … 14:27
9. “Cloak And Dagger” … 4:36

Tony Martin – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

A fantastic Black Sabbath live bootleg! I have such a fondness for Tony Martin’s run and a bootleg like this only helps to solidify the case that his time in Sabbath is extremely underrated. Taken straight from the soundboard, the quality is very good for a bootleg and Tony is in great vocal form and the rest of the band sounds like the accomplished musicians that they are. This was a great line-up and in 1989 Sabbath was on a creative roll having just released the excellent Headless Cross.

Of course, being that Sabbath has such a rich and popular history with Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio, Tony has to cover their material throughout most of the show. He does very well with the Dio material as there are similarities in their voices (even Dio himself has said that Tony Martin was ripping off his vocal style) but he falters when it comes to “Iron Man”, “War Pigs” and “Paranoid”. It’s not really his fault though. He’s too good of a singer to do those songs justice, if that makes sense. He sounds silly doing them just as Ronnie James or Ian Gillan always did. It just doesn’t work.

Other than that, really enjoyable live show and the crowd sounds fired up. Martin really shines on his songs “Headless Cross” and “When Death Calls”. Unfortunately those are the only songs of his own he gets to sing!

The final song on the album, “Cloak & Dagger”, is a studio track that was the B-side for the “Headless Cross” single.

This is a bootleg well worth seeking out and can easily be found online.

Highlights: “Headless Cross”, “Neon Knights”, “Die Young”, “When Death Calls”, “Heaven And Hell/Paranoid/Heaven And Hell”

Review of Black Sabbath’s Tyr updated

My copy of Tyr arrived in the mail today so I updated my original review a bit to reflect this version.


Whitesnake – Slide It In (1984, Geffen Records)

1. “Slide It In” … 3:20
2. “Slow an’ Easy” … 6:08
3. “Love Ain’t No Stranger” … 4:18
4. “All or Nothing” … 3:40
5. “Gambler” … 3:58
6. “Guilty of Love” … 3:24
7. “Hungry for Love” … 3:28
8. “Give Me More Time” … 3:42
9. “Spit It Out” … 4:26
10. “Standing in the Shadow” … 3:42

David Coverdale – Vocals
Mel Galley – Guitar, Backing Vocals
John Sykes – Guitar
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Jon Lord – Keyboards

Producer: Martin Birch

Slide It In is supposedly Whitesnake’s U.S. debut. I say “supposedly” because by 1984, they had already released six studio albums and one live album and while most of those came out under the EMI label in Europe, they were also released on Geffen which was the band’s U.S. label at the time. So either those albums were released alongside the European versions or Geffen dumped a lot of Whitesnake albums onto the American public in the mid to late ’80s!

Nonetheless, the U.S. version of Slide It In is mixed quite differently than the European version (that mix was criticized upon release in the UK). I have not heard that version but from what I’ve read about it, in the U.S. mix the keyboards and bass were lowered and the guitars and drums were put more up front at Geffen’s request. Also, by the time the album was to be released in the U.S., guitarist Mick Moody and bassist Colin Hodgkinson had left the band and their parts were re-recorded by John Sykes and the returning Neil Murray.

Anyway, this album starts the band’s commercial rise in the United States and maybe what old school Whitesnake fans would say is their musical decline. In my opinion, Slide It In is a fantastic album that acts as a bridge between the band’s early ’80s blues-based hard rock and their late ’80s commercial pop-metal sound. “Slide It In”, “Slow an’ Easy” and “Love Ain’t No Stranger” are a lethal three song line-up. Many albums have a great opening one-two punch but a one-two-three punch ?! Classic Whitesnake songs that are three of my all-time faves from the band.

How about these lyrics? Prime Coverdale. What did you think “Slide It In” and “Slow an’ Easy” would be about? What about “Spit It Out”? It’s obvious what he’s talking about there: “you took my love in the palm of your hand an’ showed me what a woman could do…” It’s awesome and I say that with no sense of irony. I love it.

By the way, check out this Whitesnake line-up. Coverdale has always done a great job of keeping Whitesnake stocked with top players. Sometimes I think Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Deep Purple and Rainbow had some type of musician exchange going. Maybe they held drafts every year.

Slide it in slow an’ easy then spit it out if you don’t like it!

Highlights: “Slide It In”, “Slow an’ Easy”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “Gambler”, “Spit It Out”


Black Sabbath – Forbidden (1995, IRS Records)

1. “The Illusion of Power” … 4:54
2. “Get a Grip” … 3:59
3. “Can’t Get Close Enough” … 4:28
4. “Shaking off the Chains” … 4:04
5. “I Won’t Cry for You” … 4:48
6. “Guilty as Hell” … 3:28
7. “Sick and Tired” … 3:31
8. “Rusty Angels” … 5:00
9. “Forbidden” … 3:49
10. “Kiss of Death” … 6:09

Tony Martin – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Ice T – Vocals

Producer: Ernie C

Forget what you’ve heard — this is NOT a bad album! Listen to this album with an open mind like I did when I first heard it — chances are, if you’re a fan of Tony Martin Black Sabbath, you’ll enjoy this album. It isn’t best from that period, but I like it. I’m not sure where I would rank it though with the other Martin albums. Quite possibly, I would put it on level, or maybe even above Tyr (Headless Cross, The Eternal Idol and Cross Purposes being my top three).

People like to focus on Ice T and Ernie C being involved with this album, it’s an odd choice, sure, but it’s not quite as serious as some people like to make it out to be. Ice T shows up on “The Illusion of Power”, during the middle of the song, says a few words, then leaves. THAT’S IT. There is not a drop of rap-metal or rap-rock here at all. Ice T doesn’t even rap, he’s really just talking.

To this day, the album continues to be blasted, right down to the cover art (which I think is kinda cool). Give me a break! The album continues to see Martin in fine form and Iommi is busting out some great riffs.

As for Ernie C, I’m not sure why Iommi chose him. He and Ice T were in the rock band Body Count together at the time, but I think Ernie was already signed up as producer before Ice T came along.

This was one of the other Black Sabbath CDs I had ordered used from an seller and it never arrived even though the seller said they sent it. Thankfully, my metal brothers are looking out for me as a message board buddy was able to snag me a used copy from his local music store (thanks Shiney!!).

This album quickly followed 1994’s Cross Purposes as a way for Iommi to finally be free of his deal with IRS Records. According to whichever source you listen to, Iommi also had his eye on reforming the original Sabbath group long before the completion of this album as well. Only time will tell if this will be the last Black Sabbath album… Given that history is so prone to repeating itself, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of falling out with Dio and then Iommi turning to Martin once more!

Highlights: “The Illusion of Power”, “Get a Grip”, “I Won’t Cry for You”, “Sick and Tired”, “Forbidden”, “Kiss of Death”


Black Sabbath – Tyr (1999, EMI/IRS Records – UK Import)
Original Release: 1990, IRS Records

1. “Anno Mundi” … 6:12
2. “The Law Maker” … 3:53
3. “Jerusalem” … 3:59
4. “The Sabbath Stones” … 6:46
5. “The Battle of Tyr” … 1:08
6.  “Odin’s Court” … 2:41
7. “Valhalla” … 4:42
8. “Feels Good to Me” … 5:44
9. “Heaven in Black” … 4:05

Tony Martin – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Producer: Tony Iommi & Cozy Powell

Finally I own a copy of this album. I actually thought I did own it for a bit thinking that Headless Cross was the only Tony Martin album I was missing, but then I discovered my mistake and quickly tracked down a used copy online for $15. Pretty good deal in my opinion because the album usually goes for $20-30. I knew this album had a few different reissues but when I ordered my copy, it didn’t list which version I’d be getting. I assumed it was the original release but it turned out to be the 1999 reissue from EMI that was a part of the “Classic Rock Series”. “Classic Rock” meaning the England-based music magazine. The magazine gives away freebies with every issue but I never knew they actually had put their name on reissues at one point. Of course I would have preferred the 1990 edition but I’ll take what I can get. There’s some nice liner notes about the making of this album anyway. The album cover is slightly altered with a white border going around the album’s original green border.

Tyr is a bit of a step down from the two previous Sabbath albums, but it features another great band line-up. Between the first Dio era and the second Ozzy era it was a game of musical chairs, but Iommi always kept top notch musicans in the band. Here, we get bassist Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore)  joining. Neil and drummer Cozy Powell had previously worked together in Whitesnake and Neil also played on Powell’s three solo albums from the early ’80s.

If the Gillan era is referred to as “Purple Sabbath”, what is this line-up? White Sabbath? Blacksnake? Maybe Black Powell (c’mon, you know that’s funny)?

I’m not sure what was going on with this album. It’s good, I do like it, but it doesn’t hold a candle to The Eternal Idol or Headless Cross. Those two albums rode the line between hard rock and AOR quite well, but this album seems to lean more towards the melodic side of rock and is heavy on the keyboards. I guess that’s not surprising though because the half & half concept of Norse mythology and Christianity behind Tyr was something Martin was pushing for and Martin’s background is melodic rock and not heavy metal.

I’ve read comments from Iommi where he didn’t really seemed to be too impressed with the album’s themes, but I guess you can’t really complain when you refuse to help write the lyrics.

“Feels Good to Me” was the band’s unapologetic attempt at getting a hit single. It doesn’t really fit the rest of the album, but I still like it.

Tony Martin would re-record “Jerusalem”, giving it an even more AOR sound, on his 1992 solo album Back Where I Belong.

Highlights: “Anno Mundi”, “The Law Maker”, “Jerusalem”, “Valhalla”, “Feels Good to Me”

BLACK SABBATH – Headless Cross

Black Sabbath – Headless Cross [Mini LP Edition; Japanese Import] (2010, Universal International)
Original Release: 1989, IRS Records

1. “The Gates of Hell” … 1:05
2. “Headless Cross” … 6:32
3. “Devil & Daughter” … 4:45
4. “When Death Calls” … 7:00
5. “Kill in the Spirit World” … 5:13
6. “Call of the Wild” … 5:21
7. “Black Moon” … 4:08
8. “Nightwing” … 6:43
9. “Cloak & Dagger” … 4:36

Tony Martin – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Cozy Powell – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Brian May – Guitar solo on “When Death Calls”
Laurence Cottle – Bass

Producer: Tony Iommi and Cozy Powell

This is one of my favorite albums of all time and I’ve been trying to track down a copy of this out of print album down on CD for quite some time, but the prices are just too high for even a used copy ($30-40). I’ll have to wait until some miracle arrives and in the meantime, I’ll settle for this CD-R copy.

When I heard this album a few years ago, it was the one that made me stand up and pay attention to Black Sabbath. It wasn’t Ozzy, it wasn’t Dio, it was TONY MARTIN that made me a Sabbath fan. There’s been a lot of criticism over this era of Sabbath going in an AOR/eighties hard rock direction, but it doesn’t bother me in the least because it’s quality music. This album does such a great job in carrying on the dark and “evil” vibe that Sabbath was stereotyped for, yet uses a more commercial form of hard rock. The first two Tony Martin albums were so good that I truly do believe if Iommi was able to release these records under his own name or give this group an entirely different band name the story would’ve been much different and these albums would’ve been successful.

For the sake of doing something different, let’s go song by song:

“The Gates of Hell” – I’ve really enjoyed the instrumentals put on the Sabbath albums in the ’80s. They’re usually pretty creepy and evil sounding and the intro track “The Gates of Hell”, as short as it is, is no different.

“Headless Cross” – Along with “The Shining” from The Eternal Idol, this is one of the signature songs from the Martin era and it also stands out of a great Sabbath song, period. Fantastic mid-tempo number with great vocals by Martin.

“Devil & Daughter” – The pace picks up for this song. Like “Digital Bitch” from Born Again, I’ve heard this was about Sharon Osbourne (and her father ex-Sabbath manager Don Arden) but who knows.  It would have easily just been another random batch of evil lyrics. It was originally called “Devil’s Daughter”, but was changed because Ozzy had a song being released of the same name.

“When Death Calls” – Starts out slow and haunting, then builds in pace and peaks with an Iommi solo. Have I mentioned yet how great these songs are to sing along to?

“Kill in the Spirit World” – Very AORish at points, with touches of the continuing hauntedness. Initially, I didn’t appreciate this song much, but I’ve grown to love it. The idea behind it is interesting — what happens when the already dead do bad? Why, their spirits are killed, of course! Nice solo by Brian May of Queen!

“Call of the Wild” – I’ve never liked this title. C’mon, what, are they talking about going to the bathroom? This was originally called “Hero”, but was also changed because Ozzy beat them to the punch. I love the chorus and this is a great tune while working out in the gym!

“Black Moon” – Originally released (in a different key) as a B-Side to the single “Eternal Idol” from The Eternal Idol. Somewhats sounds like Ozzy Sabbath, but it just doesn’t work me. Not horrible, just average.

“Nightwing” – I once read a quote from Tony Martin somewhere that this song was about “things that fly… bats and stuff”. Good to see he put so much thought into it. I think he tried too hard with song lyrics sometimes, just writing what he thought he should write and not necessarily what he wanted to or had a passion for. Though I think this is the weakest song on the album, I’ve since changed my initials thoughts and enjoy this song very much.

So there you have it– the best Tony Martin Sabbath release and easily one of Sabbath’s best! Even though the band didn’t have a bassist at the time (hiring Laurence Cottle to play on the album but not to join the band), this is probably the best lineup of the Martin years. Ex-Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell and longtime keyboardist Geoff Nicholls made some great contributions to the group when they were in (more than they were ever given literal credit for).

UPDATE 7/23/10:

I finally got my hands on a legit copy of this album. Thanks to Manny for pointing me in the right direction on eBay! I bought a sealed copy of this Japanese reissue from someone in Russia! I’m becoming a fan of these mini LPs. This particular mini LP is pretty cool and very well done. There’s a cool band photo when you open up the album and then there’s the “slip” for the CD (which is made up to resemble the original vinyl release of this album) that has all the lyrics and then there’s also a mini-poster featuring the album cover and in Japanese there’s another booklet talking about the history of Black Sabbath. Wish I could read it!

Much to my surprise, “Cloak & Dagger” was included as a bonus track. It’s not listed on the back of the album but is mentioned on the cover and on the Japanese booklet. It was the B-side to the “Headless Cross” single and previously had only been a part of the album on the picture disc version. I really like the song, it’s a bluesy number that sounds a bit like Whitesnake. Martin even seems to emulate Coverdale some on this song.

Highlights: Oh, who am I kidding? The whole thing is a classic!

RAINBOW – Down to Earth

Rainbow – Down to Earth [Remastered] (1999, Polydor Records)
Original Release: 1979, Polydor Records

1. “All Night Long” … 3:49
2. “Eyes of the World” … 6:39
3. “No Time to Lose” … 3:41
4. “Makin’ Love” … 4:36
5. “Since You Been Gone” … 3:16
6. “Love’s No Friend” … 4:51
7. “Danger Zone” … 4:27
8. “Lost in Hollywood” … 4:51

Graham Bonnet – Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – Guitar
Roger Glover – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Don Airey – Keyboards

Produced by: Roger Glover

Don’t get me wrong, I like Dio-era Rainbow, but it’s their more AOR/commercial-minded efforts that I enjoy most. I’ll put the slick mainstream hard rock of “Since You Been Gone”, “Street of Dreams” and “Stone Cold” against anything they did when Ronnie James Dio was in the band.

And Dio wasn’t the only Rainbow member to exit the band: Bob Daisley and David Stone were replaced by former Deep Purple bandmate Roger Glover and keyboardist Don Airey. With journeyman Cozy Powell on the drums, this is an incredibly strong line-up.

It’s a shame things didn’t work out with Graham Bonnet (this is his only Rainbow album) because he’s a fantastic vocalist turning in some great performances on “Makin’ Love”, “Eyes of the World” and “No Time to Lose” especially.

The sound is different from the medieval so-called “dragon rock” of the Dio years, but as far as I’m concerned this is another classic release and is fantastic from start to finish it… even if my woman said she didn’t like it and “they should like they’re trying to be KISS”.

I love the album’s cover. It’s so very 70s and happy thanks to the use of the cosmic rainbow. =-) It would be the last Rainbow album to feature a rainbow on the cover though. =-(

Highlights: All of it

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