The summer of 1987 was the best time of my life. It was the summer between my high school graduation and my first year of college. It was also the first time I saw Whitesnake.
If you were around back then you probably remember that summer too, that was when the band released the album Whitesnake, which became a huge success with hits such as “Here I Go Again” and the power ballad “Is This Love.” Whitesnake was the opening act for Motley Crue which, I admit, is how I happened upon them that year. Three times.
This is not to say I wasn’t familiar with them. A few years earlier I had been know to bang my head a time or two to “Slow And Easy.” Indeed Whitesnake had been around on and off since 1978. At one time or another it had counted such rock legends as Ian Paice and Cozy Powell among its members, not to mention guitar god, uber-hottie and one-time band mate of my sainted African brother Phil Lynott, John Sykes.
These days Whitesnake is celebrating its 30 year anniversary with a new album, Good To Be Bad, along with a new-ish lineup. Founder David Coverdale is still at it on vocals, along with Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach on guitar, Uriah Duffy on bass, Timothy Drury on keyboards, and Chris Frazier on drums.
Coverdale seems to have high hopes for the new project. “I’m thrilled with (the album) and can hardly wait to unleash it on an unsuspecting public!” he says. “If this is indeed the last Whitesnake studio record then I’m happy to finish it like this.”
Apparently these are the best years of Coverdale’s life, or so he tells us on the optimistic track “Best Years.” There is no shortage of love songs (“Call On Me,” “All I Want,” “A Fool In Love”). There are a few of the requisite power ballads (“Summer Rain,” “All I Want All I Need”) and even a bluesy throwback tossed in for good measure (“Fool In Love”).
Coverdale isn’t the only one with high hopes. I really wanted to love this album, for nostalgia’s sake if for no other reason. It’s too bad because it almost sounded like Whitesnake phoned it in. The songs are adequate, pretty much what you’d expect, but I wanted more than that. Good To Be Bad really brought me back, all the way to 1987. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. Is it too much to ask for something new? Something fresh? After all, we’re talking about a band that’s changed its lineup like I change my socks. The law of averages says that someone should come up with a new idea.
Really, David Coverdale is somebody’s grandfather. He really is too old to be singing such lyrics as “I’m gonna tear this place apart just to get close to you.” Been there, done that my friend. Good To Be Bad isn’t bad. If it were recorded 20 years ago Whitesnake may just have a couple of hits on its hands. Now it’s just, well, old.
I wonder what John Sykes is up to these days?