Saturday, 26 February 2011

CD Review: Slip Of The Tongue, by Whitesnake (1989)

All change again as the revolving door of membership in Whitesnake continues to twirl at a dizzying rate. Steve Vai and Adrian Vandenberg take over guitar duties, although the latter did not participate in recording the album due to injury. Rudy Sarzo is the new bassist and the steady and experienced Tommy Aldridge has a go behind the drum set, the third different drummer in as many albums.

Despite Vandenberg not playing on the album, his influence on the music is significant. He co-writes every song with Coverdale, and the ones that work have a depth, maturity and complexity well beyond the reach of most of Coverdale's earlier efforts.

Coverdale started seriously searching for his inner Zeppelin on Still Of The Night from 1987's Whitesnake. On Slip Of The Tongue, and with Vandenberg's help, he finds it. Two of Whitesnake's all-time best tracks lurk towards the back end of the album, with Judgment Day and Sailing Ships both channeling Led Zeppelin's DNA.

Judgment Day is almost a straightforward reworking of Kashmir. Coverdale and Vandenberg do enough with it, and Vai delivers the guitar goods, to make sure that it works as a powerful and memorable composition. Artistically it's equivalent to Kashmir Part 2, and that is a well-earned compliment. Sailing Ships is more about emotional acoustics exploding into power metal: the Zeppelin origins are more subtle but nevertheless well-entrenched.

Derivation can often be disastrous, but credit to Coverdale and this version of Whitesnake for producing two excellent tracks that demonstrate and celebrate Zeppelin's long shadow over metal's history and evolution.

But this is still Whitesnake, which means the album is undermined with tracks titled Cheap An' Nasty, Kittens Got Claws, and the gag-inducing The Deeper The Love, Coverdale unable to let go of his worst habits. At least on Slip Of The Tongue, the garbage is counterbalanced to an extent by the title track, as well as a recreated Fool For Your Loving (which first appeared on 1980's Ready An' Willing) and Wings Of The Storm.

Whitesnake were creatively never able to join the top league of metal bands; but within the limitations of the Whitesnake catalogue, Slip Of The Tongue is a better effort.


David Coverdale - Vocals
Steve Vai - Guitar
Rudy Sarzo - Bass
Tommy Aldridge - Drums

Note: Adrian Vandenberg (Guitar) credited as a non-playing (due to injury) band member .

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Slip Of The Tongue - 8
2. Cheap An' Nasty - 6
3. Fool For Your Loving - 9
4. Now You're Gone - 6
5. Kittens Got Claws - 6
6. Wings Of The Storm - 8
7. The Deeper The Love - 5
8. Judgment Day - 10
9. Slow Poke Music - 6
10. Sailing Ships - 10

Average: 7.40

Produced, Engineered and Mixed by Mike Clink and Keith Olsen.
Mastered by Greg Fulginiti.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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