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Music Review: Whitesnake – Slide It In / Slip Of The Tongue Anniversary Special Editions

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Twenty five years since Slide It In was released! Never. But somehow it has been a whole quarter century since my second favourite Whitesnake album was released. Of course, I didn't think that at the time, what with lineup favourites like Bernie Marsden, Neil Murray, and Ian Paice having been given the axe. But once I'd bought the "honest 12 inches" as it was advertised at the time, I was hooked. I wasn't to know that it would be the last Blues rooted release from Whitesnake for over twenty years.

Some of the best ever Whitesnake songs are tucked away on this release with "Gambler", "Love Ain't No Srranger" and "Standing In The Shadows" amongst their finest. But then it got really silly as David Coverdale rejigged the lineup even before the album was released. And then the new band re-recorded the guitar and bass parts for the US issue, which came out with a new mix and running order. Which meant the big hair and 1987 was just around the corner.

However, this remains an absolute pearl, and the 25th anniversary has been celebrated properly, despite the US issue being the main portion. It's just wrong! "Slow An' Easy"' should always be at the start of Side 2 (in old money), not pushed up to track three. But as most of the four million people who bought this in America, it probably makes sense, even if the running order here is actually wrong.

Although you'll find eight of the ten original recordings appearing as bonus tracks as well as their cover of Little Willie Johns "Need Your Love So Bad", which was a bonus track on the original cassette issue, as well as the B-side of the "Give Me More Time" single, although for reasons unexplained this is actually a later version. Add in the Starkers In Tokyo acoustic version of "Love Ain't No Stranger" and a DVD with seven videos including promo clips, a Top Of The Pops appearance and some live cuts, and this is just about essential. Now if they'd just managed to squeeze in the whole UK album, then things would have been perfect.

Slip Of The Tongue is probably the most reviled album in the Whitesnake catalogue, so you'd think they would be sweeping this under the carpet but, no, here it is packed out as a 20th anniversary edition. And although time has been kinder to it than you might imagine, there are still some absolute clunkers here.

The metallised version of "Fool For Your Loving" remains a sin, and no-one should have to hear "Kitten's Got Claws" or "Slow Poke Music" ever again. But look again, and there are a few songs here that are good as anything Sir David and his Whitesnake have ever done. It's not surprising that they turn out to be ballads, as Lord Coverdale has always excelled at them, and I'll defend "Now You're Gone", "The Deeper The Love" and "Sailing Ships" to the end.

However, some of the Steve Vai guitar work is execrable and Coverdale comes close to admitting that in the liner notes when he says about the Adrian Vandenberg demos "I know we lost some of that ballsy, soulful feel on the finished album". Shame then that we don't get to hear any of them as the bonus tracks include a couple of irrelevant remixes alongside the B-side "Sweet Lady Luck", and a couple of tracks from their 1990 Castle Donington Monsters Of Rock set. Don't go looking for the track listed, Live…In The Shadow Of The Blues visit to "Judgement Day", though. It's not on the early editions, although you can swap it for a proper one over at the Whitesnake website!

Over on the DVD, there are the promo clips to "Fool…", "Now You're Gone", and "The Deeper The Love" along with "Deeper…" and "Sailing Ships" from the Starkers In Tokyo DVD, the video to the missing "Judgment Day" and the Monsters Of Rock clips. Of all the anniversary sets we've had and will be getting, this remains the least of them, but reappraise some of the songs, and you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.

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About Stuart A Hamilton