'Here I Go Again': Whitesnake, Doors, Plant

By Tom Von Malder | Mar 02, 2018
Photo by: Rhino Records Whitesnake back in 1987.

Owls Head — Whitesnake: Whitesnake 1987: 30th Anniversary Edition (Rhino/Parlophone, 4 CDs, 3:57:15, + DVD, 73 min.). It probably had been two decades since I last listened to Whitesnake, one of those hair bands whose big heyday was in the 1980s. Quite frankly, I had forgotten how good they were. This is a 30th anniversary box-set reissue of the band's seventh, eponymous album, also known as "1987" in some areas of the world (Europe, Australia) and as "Serpens Albus" in Japan. Among its positives are the power ballad, "Is This Love," and the chart-topping hit, "Here I Go Again." "Still of the Night" is very good as well. The album, which went multi-platinum, has been remastered for this release.

The band was, and still is, led by singer/songwriter David Coverdale, formerly of Deep Purple. On the recording, the band consisted of Coverdale, guitarist John Sykes (from the final version of Thin Lizzy, he co-wrote 7 of the 9 tracks with Coverdale), drummer Aynsley Dunbar (Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, Journey, Jefferson Starship) and bassist Neil Murray (later Black Sabbath). Don Airey and Bill Cuomo were brought in to record some keyboard parts, and Dutch guitarist Adrian Vandenberg played the guitar solo on the re-recorded version of "Here I Go Again." (That song and "Crying in the Rain" had previously been recorded with a different band lineup and released on the album, "Saints & Sinners," in 1982.) By the time of the live tour (disc 2), Coverdale had completely changed the band, adding guitarists Vandenberg and Vivian Campbell  (ex-Dio), bassist Rudy Sarzo (ex-Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne) and drummer Tommy Aldridge (ex-Black Oak Arkansas, Pat Travers and Ozzy).

The 1987-88 live disc seems to have been mostly recorded in Tokyo, as the Japanese city is mentioned in three songs. This "Snakeskin Boots" disc of all previously unreleased material  includes seven songs from "1987," a guitar solo piece featuring both guitarists, as well as the title track, "Guilty of Love," "Slow an' Easy" and "Love Ain't No Stranger" from the previous "Slide It In" album (1984). There also is a cover of the 1974 Bobby "Blue" Bland hit, "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City." It is a solid performance.

As is usual with this extended box sets, there is a disc of demos and rehearsals, which give a fascinating aural peek into the song-making process. Taken from Coverdale's personal collection of tapes -- from various sources, so the sound quality is uneven -- the 56-minute disc presents the whole album in alternate form, except that a second, rough mix of "Crying In the Rain" replaces "Here I Go Again." This disc, especially, is for guitar junkies, and, uniquely, has different stages of each song's development stitched together to make a whole progression. The fourth CD is called "1987 versions," but actually starts with 2017 remixes of "Still of the Night," "Is This Love," "Give Me All Your Love" and "Here I Go Again 1987." The disc also contains the 1987 Japanese mini-album with "Standing in the Shadows," "Looking for Love," "You're Gonna Break My Herat Again" and "Need Your Love So Bad." (Both "Looking for Love" and "You're Gonna Break My Heart Again" were extra tracks added to the European version of "1987.") Finally, disc four includes the radio mix of "Here I Go Again" and the single version of "Give Me All Your Love."

The DVD includes the four classic MTV videos (25:54), namely "Still of the Night," "Here I Go Again 1987," "Is This Love" and "Give Me All Your Love," as well as a video memory of the making of the album (30 min.), a Purplesnake video jam of "Here I Go Again" (4:28) and a 1987 tour video bootleg (12:25) of "Crying in the Rain," the band introductions and "Still of the Night."

The set also comes with a lyric booklet, including reproductions of hand-written lyrics; a poster; and a 60-page, hardcover book, with rare and unseen photos, and a lengthy essay based on new interviews with Cloverdale. For those not wanting to spring for the whole box set, there are three other versions available: a Deluxe Edition available in both 2-CD and 2-LP versions, each including the newly remastered album expanded with a selection of unreleased bonus recordings; and a single-disc version of the newly remastered album. Grade: A-

The "Whitesnake 1987" box marks the first release under a newly signed catalog deal with Whitesnake and Rhino Entertainment, the catalog division of Warner Music Group. This new deal includes both the North American and Japanese rights, marking the first time a substantial amount of the Whitesnake catalog will reside under Warner Music Group worldwide.

"It gives me great joy to finally have so much of my Whitesnake catalog all under the same roof with the Warner family and I'm thrilled to be now working with this tremendous team on a worldwide basis," said Coverdale in a press release. "I have great memories of being with Warner back in my days with Deep Purple, then when I was with Geffen, when they were distributed by Warner, so it feels like coming home to now have Whitesnake there. This elaborate reissue is the perfect project to kick off the new relationship."

Whitesnake: The Purple Tour (Live) (Rhino, CD + Blu-ray, NR, 80 min.; also CD/DVD or 2-LP or single CD). This loud, but entertaining releases features the 2015 version of Whitesnake, which recorded "The Purple Album," recordings of 13 songs singer David Coverdale recorded while with the third and fourth iterations of Deep Purple. Coverdale co-write all of the songs, 10 with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. The current edition of the band then took the songs on the road, along with other gems from the lengthy Whitesnake catalog. The band includes Coverdale on vocals, Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra on guitars, Michael Devin on bass, Tommy Aldridge on drums and Michele Luppi on keyboards.

Coverdale joined Deep Purple in 1973, when he was 21 and a relative unknown British singer. He recorded three albums in two years with the band. Deep Purple songs covered here include "Burn," "The Gypsy," "Mistreated," "You Fool No One" and "Soldier of Fortune." The band also rocks through the first half of "Whitesnake 1987," including "Bad Boys," "Still of the Night" and "Here I Go Again." The crowd often sings along, particularly on "Give Me All Your Love" and their cover of "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City." The band is muscular, with the guitarists working well together, and Coverdale can still hit most of the notes. Because of the Deep Purple material, Luppi's keyboards are mixed more to the front of the sound. It appears at least part of the show was recorded in Birmingham, England.

My only quarrel with the Blu-ray is the director's random shifts to black-and-white. Blu-ray bonus content includes the promo video for "Burn" (8:13); bassist Devin interviewing the two guitarists (17:43), surprisingly informative despite Devin's insisting on getting bacon into the conversation; and bonus audio of four songs (23:25), including Deep Purple's "You Keep on Moving," "Lay Down Stay Down" and "Stormbringer."

Coverdale, in a separate press release, said there was never any intention to compete with the original recordings. "We just wanted to play the damn songs. Each member of the band brought their incredible individual talents and a real band identity to this music," he said. "We've all done the best we can with this project with respect to the music, and the legacy of Deep Purple Mk3 and Mk4." Grade: A

The Doors: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 (Eagle Vision, Blu-ray + CD or standard DVD + CD, NR, 66 min.). This was the third-to-last concert by the original Doors and the last one filmed. Singer Jim Morrison, facing felony charges of lewd and lascivious behavior and several misdemeanors from a March 1, 1969 show in Miami, charges that caused a 2-city U.S. tour to be cancelled, would soon move to Paris, France, where he would die on July 3, 1971, less than a year after this show, at age 27. Despite this being one of the biggest rock shows in history -- some 600,000 attended, causing the British Parliament to pass a law banning festival crowds on the Isle of Wight until 2002, but then only allowing up to 10,000 attendees -- The Doors' performance, while solid musically, was rather subdued, with Morrison hardly moving. Also, the band went on at 2 a.m. and only had a single red spotlight for illumination, as they were not told they needed to provide their own lights.

The film crew was directed by Murray Lerner, who documented the Newport Folk Festival in 1967's "Festival" and has made concert films on The Who, Leonard Cohen, The Moody Blues, Jimi Hendrix and Jethro Tull and an upcoming one on Joni Mitchell, each centered on their performances at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. Lerner also made the 1995 documentary film, "Message To Love: The Isle of Wight Festival." In addition, Lerner conducts the new bonus interviews with the then-surviving guitarist Robby Krieger, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore and original Doors manager Bill Siddons in the 18-minute featurette, "This Is the End." Manzarek died in 2013.

During the featurette, Morrison's former bandmates point out that he had just seen the Living Theatre in California, a troupe that used a lot of nudity, and was probably trying to recreate that atmosphere. They insist, however, that Morrison never exposed himself and, as proof, point out that no photo evidence has ever surfaced. In fact, 40 years later, an appeals review led to all charges against Morrison being dropped.

"Our set was subdued but very intense," Manzarek later stated, according to a press release. "We played with a controlled fury and Jim was in fine vocal form. He sang for all he was worth, but moved nary a muscle. Dionysus had been shackled."

The film starts with The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" playing over images of the festival, including people tearing down barriers and crashing gates to gain access to the event. The band then performs "Back Door Man," "Break on Through (To the Other Side)," "When the Music's Over" with Manzarek's long keyboard intro, "Ship of Fools" with more general festival footage, a 14-minute version of "Light My Fire" with a lengthy instrumental portion -- and Morrison cigarette break -- after the first verse, and closing with a nearly 16-minute version of "The End." Grade: A-

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters: Live at David Lynch's Festival of Disruption (Eagle Vision DVD, NR, 56 min.). This concert was recorded Oct. 8, 2016 before a relatively small theater audience. Plant, the vocalist/co-songwriter for Led Zeppelin, has been performing with the Sensational Space Shifters since 2012. The group blurs the lines between rock, blues, folk and world music, with particular emphasis on African rhythms, such as on the opening "Poor Howard." The show also includes re-imagined versions of four Zeppelin classics.

The bluesy rocker, "Turn It Up," follows "Poor Howard," then the band launches into Zeppelin's "Black Dog," with an electronic start. The familiar guitar riffs pop up in little doses, and the guitarists are having fun, but an extended coda adds a one-string fiddle (known as a ritti or nyanyero) and foreign vocals by Juldeh Camara, a Gambian blues musician. "The Enchanter" again features Camara, while four band members, including Plant, play hand-held pan drums as the band shifts into "Rainbow." For the next Led Zeppelin number, "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You," there is an acoustic guitar start and later lots of guitar soloing by Liam "Skin" Tyson (ex-Cast). The then-new "Little Maggie" follows, again with an electronic start, but it is based on Appalachian music, with Tyson playing banjo and Justin Adams mandolin.

The rather short show begins to wind down with a medley of "Hoochie Coochie Man," Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and "Mona." The encore is Led Zeppelin's "Going to California," very nicely played, with Tyson on acoustic guitar and Adams again on mandolin. The music is both adventuresome and entertaining. The bonus material is a series of short lectures by filmmaker Lynch on creativity and unified fields (8:57), meditation (8:50) and music (4:53). The release is an effort to raise funds for the David Lynch Foundation "to heal post traumatic stress among veterans, survivors of domestic abuse, and at-risk children through Transcendental Meditation." Grade: A

OneRepublic: Live in South Africa (Eagle Vision Blu-ray, NR, 85 min. + 33 min. documentary). I probably was not as familiar with OneRepublic as I should have been. I knew the hits "Apologize" and "Counting Stars," but not who the band was. Now I do know, after this very nice package that includes a wonderful concert film and an entertaining documentary about the band and singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder. The show was recorded in Johannesburg, South Africa in the final stages of the band's Native World Tour. "Native" was the band's third album and featured the hit "Counting Stars," which topped the charts in 54 countries. The tour included 154 cities in 26 countries and took two-and-a-half years.

This show, in front of some 18,000 fans, contains 18 songs. Several feature Zach Filkins' violin -- I just love a violin used in a rock band -- including "Secrets" and "All the Right Moves," with the latter being opened by a filmed children's choir. "Stop and Stare" is a solo voice and guitar performance by Tedder at the start and finish, with the band joining in during the middle. Tedder opens "Apologize" by himself at the piano, then the violin joins in. "Apologize" is the start of a more intimate section, with the band grouped closely together out on the catwalk. The section also includes "Preacher," about Tedder's grandfather, and "Good Life" for a strong middle to the show. (The moments with the vast crowd creating lights with their cell phones made me realize how long it has been since I have been to a major concert, as I have never experienced the cell phone moment in real life.")

Prior to "Counting Stars," there is some nice Spanish guitar soloing. Other highlights include the slower "Can't Stop," "Feel Again" (during which Tedder interacts with the crowd offstage) and "I Lived." Tedder is very active, running and jumping, during the first encore song, "Love Runs Out," which also has pyrotechnics. The cover of "What a Wonderful World" brings out another sea of cell phone lights and the show closes with "If I Lose Myself," which has several band members banging on very large drums, a la Imagine Dragons.

The 33-minute documentary, "Don't Look Down," starts with Tedder's early days in music -- he got to know Filkins while in high school --  and then his struggles to find footing in the music business. Victory in an MTV music contest -- he performed an original song -- led to an internship with Timbaland, but no record deal.  While there was success as a songwriter for others, including Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," a recording deal with Columbia fell through, despite a strong performance at Coachella. It was the Myspace success of "Apologize" that led to a record deal with Interscope, and Timbaland's remix of the song helped make it a worldwide hit.

An additional bonus is a live performance of "Wherever I Go" in Sydney. It is another of the band's stronger songs. Grade: B+

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