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

ws_live_cover_dvd

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

Band:
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”

Snakecharmer [Review]

SNAKECHARMER cover

Snakecharmer
2013, Frontiers Records

1. My Angel
2. Accident Prone
3. To The Rescue
4. Falling Leaves
5. A Little Rock & Roll
6. Turn Of The Screw
7. Smoking Gun
8. Stand Up
9. Guilty As Charged
10. Nothing To Lose
11. Cover Me In You

Band:
Chris Ousey – Lead Vocals
Micky Moody – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Laurie Wisefield – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Harry James – Drums, Backing Vocals
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards, Vocals

Produced by: Snakecharmer

Snakecharmer is next in the line in a number of groups that have been put together by small number of former members of Whitesnake. First there was The Snakes, which was started up by former Whitesnake guitarists Bernie Marsden & Micky Moody. Then that became The Company of Snakes featuring Marsden and Moody with the addition of former ‘snake bassist Neil Murray. Then that became known as M3. Now, Moody & Murray have started up Snakecharmer with other notable musicians such as Monroe/Heartland vocalist Chris Ousey, Wishbone Ash guitarist Laurie Wisefield, Magnum/Thunder drummer Harry James and current Ozzy/Black Sabbath keyboardist Adam Wakeman (son of Rick Wakeman).

Given all of the names involved, Snakecharmer is what you’d expect: melodic & bluesy classic rock. If you enjoyed what Marsden, Moody and/or Murray were doing in their previous Whitesnake-inspired bands, you’ll like Snakecharmer. That said, Chris Ousey (as good as he is) is no David Coverdale. A number of tracks definitely sound like early Whitesnake though. “A Little Rock and Roll” and “To The Rescue” are shining examples of songs that could’ve been recorded by that band’s earliest line-up. Another standout is “Stand Up”, which kind of reminds me of something Rainbow would’ve done during their more commercial years.

Snakecharmer is a solid album full of professionals who have faithfully been playing in this style for decades. Though it openly draws comparison to them, this album is not on the same level with Whitesnake earliest releases. What it is is an enjoyable release and fine stand-in for anyone who wishes Coverdale would take Whitesnake back to their earliest & simplest sound.

Highlights: “My Angel”, “Accident Prone”, “Falling Leaves”, “A Little Rock and Roll”, “Stand Up”, “Nothing to Lose”

http://www.snakecharmer.org/
http://www.facebook.com/QEDG.snakecharmer

Buy the album at Amazon.com

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

Band:
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”

www.blacksabbath.com

WHITESNAKE – Whitesnake

Whitesnake – Whitesnake (1987, Geffen Records)

1. “Crying in the Rain” … 5:37
2. “Bad Boys” … 4:09
3. “Still of the Night” … 6:38
4. “Here I Go Again” … 4:33
5. “Give Me All Your Love” … 3:30
6. “Is This Love” … 4:43
7. “Children of the Night” … 4:24
8. “Straight for the Heart” … 3:40
9. “Don’t Turn Away” … 5:07

Band:
David Coverdale – Lead Vocals
John Sykes – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Aynsley Dunbar – Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Don Airey – Keyboards
Bill Cuomo – Keyboards
Adrian Vandenberg – Guitar solo (“Here I Go Again”)

Producer: Mike Stone & Keith Olsen

And with this, my Whitesnake collection is complete. I held off on getting this album for years because I knew the whole album by heart since I had owned the cassette since 1996 or so. Out of boredom, I finally plunked down a couple of bucks online to pick this one up.

Despite being the band’s most successful time, this really began the worst era for the band (which even Coverdale himself now admits). Released 3 years before this album, Slide It In was a perfect blend of their old blues-rock sound and pop-metal sound of the day but this cheesy album went overboard with the pop-metal and commercial rock sound and it has a high filler quotient as a result. Sure, there are a few classics here like the epic “Still of the Night” and the monster hits “Here I Go Again” and “Is This Love” but the blues influenced is basically gone and in its place is a lot of generic ’80s hard rock. At least Coverdale puts on another fine performance but the songs don’t really call for him to show off his voice too much.

This is one of Whitesnake’s worst albums but that said, it’s still an okay album that used to get a lot of play from me. I would rather listen to anything before or after this album and Slip of the Tongue though.

Highlights: “Crying in the Rain”, “Still of the Night”, “Here I Go Again”, “Is This Love”, “Don’t Turn Away”

www.whitesnake.com
www.myspace.com/whitesnake

THE COMPANY OF SNAKES – Burst The Bubble

The Company of Snakes – Burst The Bubble (2002, SPV/Steamhammer Records)

1. “Ayresome Park” … 0:59
2. “Labour of Love” … 4:06
3. “Ride, Ride, Ride / Run, Run, Run” … 4:46
4. “Burst the Bubble” … 4:23
5. “Sacrificial Feelings” … 4:28
6. “What Love Can Do” … 5:40
7. “Little Miss Happiness” … 4:09
8. “Hurricane” … 5:23
9. “Kinda Wish You Would” … 4:04
10. “Days to Remember” … 5:51
11. “Back to the Blues” … 4:26
12. “All Dressed Up” … 4:15
14. “Can’t Go Back” … 5:07
15. “She” … 3:59
16. “Ayresome Park – Reprise” … 1:00

Band:
Stefan Berggren – Vocals
Bernie Marsden – Guitar
Micky Moody – Guitar
Neil Murray – Bass
John Lingwood – Drums

Producer: Rainer Hansel

The Company of Snakes were formed in 1998 by former Whitesnake guitarists Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody. A year earlier, a previous version of the group was known as The Snakes with a then-unknown Jorn Lande on vocals. Is it just me or does that seem like a really odd combo? In both groups, former Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray was a participant and ultimately the band would once again shed its skin and become known as M3 with Marsden, Moody and Murray still at the core.

This particular version of the band once had former Bad Company singer Robert Hart in its ranks and then later Michael Schenker Group vocalist Gary Barden. Barden got as far as to record the live album Here They Go Again with the band (which was the group’s recorded debut as The Company of Snakes) but left the band before its release so the group’s THIRD singer Stefan Berggren filled in on vocals in the studio and all of Barden’s vocals were deleted. Rainbow/Whitesnake/Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey was also briefly a member but left before the recording of this album.

As you might expect for a band that featured three of Whitesnake’s original members and played virtually nothing but early Whitesnake songs in concert, this album sounds like Whitesnake. There’s some AOR thrown in for good measure (“What Love Can Do”, “Hurricane”) but more or less Burst The Bubble displays much of the same bluesy hard rock that the early Whitesnake albums did. Heck, I can even take it a step further and say that “Kinda Wish You Would” sounds like what would pass for modern day country music. It’s a down-home rocker that would sound right at home playing in a country western bar somewhere in America’s heartland.

The obvious missing ingredient to all of this is David Coverdale and that’s very much a key ingredient in my opinion for this kind of blues-based hard rock. Berggren does a decent job on the album but he’s no Coverdale and lacks the power and charisma of David. Maybe Berggren himself thought the same because he left the band shortly after this album was recorded!

This isn’t an album I’ll be reaching for often but being a huge Whitesnake fan, I wanted to hear what some of the original members were up to and they turned in a solid effort. Similar hardcore Whitesnake fans will probably find this album of interest as well, especially if you like the early years.

I think the album art is pretty cool and it seems very much like an early Whitesnake cover. Seems like a cross between Lovehunter and Come an’ Get It.

Highlights: “Labour of Love”, “Burst The Bubble”, “Hurricane”, “Kinda Wish You Would”, “All Dressed Up”, “Can’t Go Back”

Review of Black Sabbath’s Tyr updated

http://metalexcess.com/2009/10/11/black-sabbath-tyr/

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

WHITESNAKE – Trouble

Whitesnake – Trouble (1978, Geffen Records)

1. “Take Me With You” … 4:44
2. “Love to Keep You Warm” .. .3:43
3. “Lie Down (A Modern Love Song)” … 3:14
4. “Day Tripper” … 3:47
5. “Nighthawk (Vampire Blues)” … 3:40
6. “The Time is Right for Love” … 3:27
7. “Trouble” … 4:48
8. “Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick” … 3:25)
9. “Free Flight” … 4:05
10. “Don’t Mess with Me” … 3:18

Band:
David Coverdale – Vocals
Micky Moody – Guitar
Bernie Marsden – Guitar, Vocals (“Free Flight”)
Neil Murray – Bass
Dave Dowle – Drums
Jon Lord – Keyboards

Producer: Martin Birch

Though it isn’t the first album to bare to Whitesnake name, Trouble is the first full-fledged group effort because Snakebite (released earlier in the same year) featured a handful of David Coverdale solo material that was recorded before Whitesnake was formed.

It’s amazing how well put together the sound and direction of this band was right out of the gate. Trouble sets the tone for the rest of the group’s blues-rock era. But could we really expect anything less given the talent involved? Coverdale delivers his typically wonderful vocal performance throughout (though he would get even better on later albums), Jon Lord’s keys dance delicately and enhance the songs instead of bogging them down and the guitar duo of Moody & Marsden is quickly becoming one of my favorites and has convinced me I really need to buy those Company of Snakes albums. Neil Murray also puts in a fine performance as does drummer Dave Dowle.

There’s a number of notable songs on this release, even if upon first listen, none really stuck out to me. The band takes The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” and gave it a blues-rock feel to pretty cool effect. Dig that voice box! “Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick” is an awesome instrumental and no offense to Mr. Coverdale, but it’s one of the best songs on the album. Then there’s “Free Flight” which features the vocal talents of Bernie Marsden. Again, it may be missing Coverdale but it’s a great number.

Now that I’ve heard this album about eight or nine times all the way through, I enjoy all the songs to one degree or another. There’s no immediate “hit” but this is great 1970s hard rockin’ blues.

Picked this one up used on Amazon.com for only a few bucks.

Highlights: “Take Me With You”, “Day Tripper”, “Trouble”, “Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick”, “Free Flight”, “Don’t Mess With Me”

www.whitesnake.com
www.myspace.com/whitesnake

WHITESNAKE – Slide It In

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

Band:
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”

www.whitesnake.com
www.myspace.com/whitesnake

BLACK SABBATH – Forbidden

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

Band:
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 Amazon.com 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”

www.blacksabbath.com
www.heavenandhelllive.com
www.myspace.com/heavenandhelllive
www.tonymartin.net
www.myspace.com/officialtonymartin

GARY MOORE – Corridors of Power

Gary Moor – Corridors of Power [Remastered] (2002, Virgin Records – UK Import)
Original Release: 1982, Mirage Records

1. “Don’t Take Me for a Loser” … 4:17
2. “Always Gonna Love You” … 3:56
3. “Wishing Well” … 4:06
4. “Gonna Break My Heart Again” … 3:19
5. “Falling in Love with You” … 4:52
6. “End of the World” … 6:53
7. “Rockin’ Every Night” …  2:48
8. “Cold Hearted” … 5:12
9. “I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow” … 7:47
BONUS TRACKS
10. “Falling in Love with You” (Remix) … 4:10
11. “Falling in Love with You” (Remix instrumental) … 4:24
12. “Love Can Make a Fool of You” … 4:06

Musicians:
Gary Moore – Vocals, Guitar
Neil Murray – Bass
Ian Paice – Drums
Don Airey – Keyboards
Tommy Eyre – Keyboards
Jack Bruce – Vocals (“End of the World”)
Bobby Chouinard – Drums (“End of the World”)
Mo Foster – Bass (“Falling in Love with You”)

Producer: Jeff Glixman

Gary Moore surrounded himself with some fine musicians for this one– Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath), Ian Paice (Deep Purple, Whitesnake) and journeyman keyboardist Don Airey (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Ozzy, etc, etc, etc…)

This is my second Gary Moore purchase and it isn’t quite as good as Victims of the Future, but it is still an enjoyable listen. Victims of the Future was the follow-up to this one and that album displayed Gary Moore in full-on hard rock guitar hero mode, but this album sees him straddling the line between hard rock (the great opener “Don’t Take Me for a Loser”) and pop (the guilty pleasure slice of cheese balladry that is “Always Gonna Love You”).

My favorite song from this album is “End of the World” which starts off with two minutes of Moore showing of his incredible skills and this hard rocker would have easily fit on Victims of the Future.

This one has been reissued a number of times with varying bonus tracks, most interesting to me is a 2000 reissue with a seven minute version of “Empty Rooms”. Would’ve been nice to have that one instead of three variations of “Falling in Love with You” on one album.

Highlights: “Don’t Take Me for a Loser”, “Always Gonna Love You”, “Wishing Well”, “Gonna Break My Heart Again”, “End of the World”

www.gary-moore.com
www.myspace.com/gmooremusic

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