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Whitesnake - Flesh and Blood - CD + DVD -

Price per Unit (stuk): €21.95

Ever since Whitesnake started recycling their cover art based on the theme of their most successful album from 1987, Mr David Coverdale has created albums in tandem with some fine guitarists, setting alight their finest riffs with eternal tales of ‘wine, women and song.’

After the wonderfully successful Sykes/Coverdale compositions of the classic ‘Whitesnake’ (1987) came the almost as successful Vandenberg/Coverdale compositions of ‘Slip of the Tongue’ (1989) and (eventually) the follow up ‘Restless Heart’ (1997). The Aldrich/Coverdale compositions of ‘Good to be Bad’ (2008) and ‘Forevermore’ (2011) followed after an initial ten year gap seemed to really spark in places and now we have the first album of the Hoekstra/Coverdale’ era in ‘Flesh and Blood’ (2019) an album that was announced in 2017, due in 2018 and now finally sees the light of day in May this year.

So 41 years in we have ‘Flesh and Blood’ Whitesnake’s 13th album, sporting a sparkling 13 tracks. The press release, as you might expect, promises “all killer, no filler”. The most interesting thing even before pushing ‘play’ though is that just six of the 13 songs here were co-written with ‘new’ guitarist Joel Hoekstra, breaking the usual pattern of David working with a single collaborator (save the odd song). It’s long serving guitarist Reb Beech, who has been on board since the 2002, just before the 25th Anniversary Tour, who co-writes a further five. The great news is that the competition seems to work wonderfully well here.

As well as Coverdale, Beech and Hoekstra, rounding out the line-up this time around are bassist Michael Devin (who played on ‘Forevermore’) and  drummer Tommy Aldridge, who has been with Whitesnake in one way or another for 30 of their 41 years so far. The keyboards this time are handled by Michele Luppi, who debuted on the 2015 ‘The Purple Tour’

Well let’s get to it then! You always wonder with a Whitesnake album,but from the off we seem to be on pretty safe ground – there’s real bite to the riff of opener ‘Good To See You Again,’ a dirty bluesy thrust and a nice big hook with Coverdale making the most of a lower register grittier growl that really suits both him and the song.

After that storming opening salvo ‘Gonna Be Alright’ immediately piques the interest, a mid-tempo rocker with an almost smoky feel reminiscent of some of the lighter moments on their 1987 release. There’s some nice melodies, an interesting vaguely hypnotic riff and a nice solo along with a few ‘Coverdale-isms’ for good measure. It’s a strange song in a way that doesn’t go for the throat but at the same time is strangely compelling.

It’s back to the 80’s in feel for the blustering ‘Shut Up & Kiss Me’ which surely you’ve all heard by now. It, like the other single ‘Trouble Is Your Middle Name’ (which has a cool almost Alice Cooperish thrust to its chorus) are both solid songs, certainly in line with what fans of the latter day band crave. Nether disappoints, but on an album that just might be the bands best since the nineties, there’s plenty more to come.

‘Hey You (You Make Me Rock)’ introduces a night fat groove and a ‘made for live’ chorus, and Coverdale provides a wonderful laid back vocal that simmers nicely against the dynamics and cut and thrust if the guitars. It’s another big tick.

‘Always & Forever’ is probably the most commercial song here and one that when I heard that initial refrain reminded me very much of a much older song by the band, but I’ll leave that potential connection to you. Whichever way you look at it, it’s beautifully constructed – a great riff, rich chorus, great backing vocals and it also sports my favourite solo on the record. If you’re a fan of Coverdale’s love songs this is ‘The Deeper the Love’ of ‘Flesh and Blood’.

With almost half the album down in truth this is looking like the unexpected comeback of the year. Sadly ‘When I Think Of You (Color Me Blue)’ is a slower number that whilst on face value ticks all the boxes (nice refrain, lush vocals, trademark dynamics, sweet chorus)  on the first few plays it was the one song that just failed to connect.

We’re quickly back on track though for the noisy ‘Flesh & Blood’ that sails through like a mash of Whitesnake, Thunder and Electric-era Cult. It’s a great song and another with a really hard edge that suits David’s wail so well. ‘Well I Never’ adds a nice mid-tempo bluesy groove and ‘Heart Of Stone’ takes it down further still with some smoke and real gravel in Coverdales’ voice as he almost talks through the verses before the lush build to the chorus, it’s like the best of the vintage band with accents of 1987 era. A wonderful song.

The album at thirteen tracks might have fallen into the trap of being overlong but I can honestly say this one doesn’t – it keeps on giving. Sure you could pick your nine or ten favourites and argue a better album but honestly there’s nothing here really (save that one track) I’d vote off.

The album closes out in just as fine style: ‘Get Up’ is another rousing Blues fueled Rocker, ‘After All’ a delightful light almost Folky ditty that though completely out of character with the rest of the music here is simply a beautiful song. More please.

We close with ‘Sands Of Time’ the longest song here at over six minutes and a real call to arms in the vein of past tracks like ‘Judgement Day’. A rousing way to close indeed. 

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