Review by Paul H Birch
When stories about your voice being shot are what now fill music gossip column inches rather than the prowess of your love gun, it takes a brave man (or one who’s also gone tone deaf?) to put out yet another live recording.
Then again, I’m not sure we ever really heard David Coverdale’s natural voice. Was there the northern richness of a deeper Eric Burdon there until Deep Purple tried to mould him into Paul Rogers? Since then he’s tried to hit the strangulated notes Glenn Hughes’ voice was made for and that’s taken its toll. When the old Middlesbrough trouser-fitter keeps within a certain range his voice is fine; there’s still personality and warmth, a few fluffed notes we can forgive, others less so.
There’s a genuine unexpected honesty about the two CDs that make up Made in Japan, I’ll give Whitesnake that. They’ve not tarted it up with overdubs; I’ve got ancient C90 cassette bootlegs in better nick than some of the stuff featured!
So what’s to like? Well, quite a bit actually, but you have to get the volume just right: too low and it makes any mistakes all the more obvious, too loud and it comes across as pedestrian, get it just right and it’s bold as brass blues metal boogie.
Recorded during the 2011 Forevermore tour, CD1 was initially aired on Japanese television (yes, there’s a DVD and Blue Ray edition available too) while CD2 features studio outtakes and acoustic versions thus we get two different versions of a couple of songs. Caught in the moment, the Made in Japan version of ‘Steal Your Heart Away’ ploughs through with a Zeppelin trademarked mega-country stomp while the second has a cleaner Foghat slide guitar approach. The ‘Love Will Set You Free’ renditions aren’t radically that different but in musically recalling the West Coast snake-eyed soul-soaked blues of Coverdale’s early solo albums show that a band with a lighter groove-based touch is needed to take the song to the heights it deserves.
It’s telling that ‘Fool For Your Loving’ and ‘Here I Go Again’ are played the most faithfully with Coverdale’s bluesy crooning aching well on them. However, that classic Whitesnake guitar sound of eagerly-amped B.B. King styled note bends has a tendency towards opting for a blitzkrieg of passing grace notes with more modern line-ups as in this case where they bludgeon their way through a strong meaty ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’.
‘Forevermore’ opens beautifully but in changing from acoustic to electric goes a little awry (guitars also veer out of tune in places) and solos in general capture the moment rather than elicit any unexpected excitement in the listener (I’m sure there are actually two drum solos on the collection, but my legs traditionally take me to the toilets upon hearing them). Most fans will opt for the DVD version of Made In Japan but a choice selection of the songs are worth repeated listening.
5.5 out of 10
- Best Years
- Give Me All Your Love Tonight
- Love Ain’t No Stranger
- Is This Love
- Steal Your Heart Away
- Six Strong Showdown
- Love Will Set You Free
- Drum Solo
- Fool For Your Loving
- Here I Go Again
- Still Of The Night
- Love Will Set You Free
- Steal Your Heart Away
- Fare Thee Well (Acoustic Version)
- One Of These Days (Acoustic Version)
- Lay Down Your Love
- Evil Ways
- Good To Be Bad (Acoustic Version)
- Tell Me How (Acoustic Version)
Well done Paul for having the balls to say it like it is and not pampering to past glories and be afraid to tarnish the Whitesnake legacy. Lets face facts as much as I love Whitesnake the last few times I’ve seen them live has not been the most memorable, it has for the wrong reasons. ‘Ere’s one for ya! Coverdale is a rock God, sadly God’s might and power is waning, time to hang up the chest wig and relax in Lake Tahoe.
Saw Whitesnake last night at The LG Arena. Enjoyed most of it but was left with the impression that this is just a bunch of hired hands and really they have only a handful of new songs worth a light, particularly Evermore. Sadly the great days of yore are gone. DC just tries too hard when he doesn’t need to. When he stops trying up scream the place down and settles into they familiar fruity bluesy croon he is still up there with the best so it’s a shame that he does not select the better material in his back catalogue which is so varied and contains so many strong songgs that are well worth hearing again.
I love Reb Beach’s guitar playing but the guitar solo slots were nothing more than warm up sessions so hardly inspiring. And as for the drum solo ?? Leave it out we hate them.
Paul is spot on in his assessment. The trouble I’d that this should be Whitesnake the band not David Coversion’s Whitesnake. I have no doubt so many will disagree with me but it’s really time for a change. You would be surprised how many would agree.
Journey on the other hand were their usual flawless selves delivering some killer songs only they know how. Also they are a band and Arnel is a true successor for Mr Perry as he really shows how much he is into it.
Comments are closed.