CD Review of Good to Be Bad by Whitesnake
Recommended if you like
Dokken, Winger and Rainbow
Good to Be Bad

Reviewed by R. David Smola


ere David Coverdale, the man who flirted with being Robert Plant (and actually was for a moment in 1993, when he released Coverdale/Page with iconic Zeppelin/Yardbirds guitar slinger Jimmy Page), dusts off Whitesnake and churns out the band’s first new material since 1997’s underwhelming Restless Heart. Coverdale deserves some real credit for his musical path. At the very tender age of 22, he auditioned and became the voice of Deep Purple after Ian Gillan departed. At that time (1973), Purple was one of the biggest bands in the world, so it was a very big deal. Burn and Stormbringer are important albums to the Purple legacy, and Coverdale’s soulful and powerful voice is an integral part of those records. The last Purple record to feature Coverdale (and Glen Hughes) was the Tommy Bolin-for-Richie Blackmore record, Come and Taste the Band, which is a very interesting album from many perspectives. Whitesnake’s macho hard rock and hitmaking of the ‘80s also can’t be ignored or dismissed because Tawny Kitaen (when she was scorching) was catting around in a variety of provocative poses in videos for the power ballads “Here I Go Again” and “Is This Love.” The music, as clichéd and testosterone-fueled as it was (the band is called Whitesnake… get it, Beavis…huh, huh huh), still holds up in the “crunchy riffs and memorably songs” category. Who didn’t rock out to “Slide It In?”

 Like the 2008 Detroit Tigers, this seemed like a winner on paper; but the execution, the end product, falls short. This album is not as disappointing as the Tigers (who at the time of this writing sit double-digit games out of first place), but it doesn’t live up to what it should have been, either. Joining Mr. Snake (Coverdale) is an impressive roster of players: guitarist Doug Aldrich (Lion, Dio), guitarist Reb Beach (Winger, Dokken, Night Ranger), bassist Uriah Duffy (Travers/Appice), keyboardist Timothy Drury (Don Henley, Stevie Nicks) on keys, and drummer Chris Frazier (Steve Vai). Beach and Aldrich are excellent players with an established body of work, and the others are no slouches, and the songs like “All for Love” and “Best Years” have moments, but as a whole, they’re generic hard rock songs, long on the riffs and short on the hooks.

This is a muscular version of the band. It is a heavy record with a small element of the bluesy style from the past and several nods to Deep Purple, like “Can You Hear the Wind Blow” and “All for Love” – but for the most part, nothing jumps out of the speakers. There is nothing here that stands with their best work. Ten of the 11 tracks clock in at over five minutes, giving the guitarists plenty of time to noodle away. The guitar playing is excellent, but the songs as a whole zip in and out of the ear without leaving the need to listen again. “Summer Rain,” a power ballad, is the best track on the record, featuring layered harmonies by Coverdale and some restrained but effective guitar soloing. Longtime fans will enjoy the record, but breaking into a new audience won’t be accomplished here. If this is the last Whitesnake record, it would be disappointing, because this lineup is capable of much, much more. It ain’t bad, but neither is cotton candy – and I never, ever have a taste for that.

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