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David Coverdale - White Snake & North Winds

Label: Eagle
Format: CD
Released: 2011
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 5/ 10, 7.5/ 10


The initial pair of solo outings from then post-Deep Purple singer David Coverdale. Issued in ’77-’78, in retrospect it’s almost inconceivable (given the future status of Coverdale’s band Whitesnake) that he was unable to support a tour for the initial album, but such was the nature of the punk infused (particularly in Britain) music biz at the time! In addition to remastered versions (from the original tapes), both discs feature a pair of bonus tracks and history/photos that take up several panels of the CD booklets. Given that both never received proper vinyl distribution Stateside (Canada did see the debut released, via Attic), to say nothing of CD, this marks a great opportunity to hear where it all began.

 

Somewhat confusingly, "WhiteSnake" (the moniker he would ultimately choose for his solo band) is the debut, yet still retaining David Coverdale for sophomore effort, "North Winds". From the opening, bluesy and brass horns accented ‘Lady’, the debut has an Eagles/Cali vibe about it ("Peace Lovin Man"), rather than the sounds for which Coverdale is associated. Motown horns and female backing singers can be heard on the funky "Goldie’s Place" and original disc closer "Celebration". The piano accompanied "Blindman" is more on the mark, slow blues drawl. The song ‘Whitesnake’ (one word, as it would come to be universally spelled, as opposed to this album’s two word title) employs the squawk box effect so popular in the 70s. "Sunny Days" has a Rod Stewart/Small Faces sensibility (again with female back-up). Like opening any time capsule, some things are neat nostalgic pieces, others simply induce a round of head scratching.

‘Keep On Giving Me Love’ opens the second disc, now a bona fide classic, but it certainly signaled a change in direction from the debut. There’s still a few stylistic carry-overs from the early disc, horns, back-up singers and the odd Eagles (who had issued Hotel California by this time) influence, especially the title cut and electric piano ballad ‘Time & Again’. ‘Queen Of Hearts’ is another Snake classic, imagine penning two tracks so intimately associated with the band (for over three decades) even before it existed. The soulful, strings embellished ‘Only My Soul’ along with the bouncy proto-New Wave Of British Heavy Metal ‘Breakdown’ also became big live numbers for the band, amazing. Dio alert! The late great singer (and his wife) add backing vocals to ‘Give Me Kindness’ along with keyboardist Jon Lord’s missus. Of the two bonus tracks, ‘Shame On The Devil’ is another stab at Motown horns/female singers and wacka wacka basslines, while ‘Sweet Mistreater’ is pop.

 
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