Whitesnake – The Purple Album (Review)
According to David Coverdale, Whitesnakes new album “The Purple Album” is a re-imagination of classics from the MkIII/IV Deep Purple era. This represents a three year period in the life of Deep Purple which saw them release three studio albums (Burn, Stormbringer & Come Taste The Band) and which plucked a young and naive David Coverdale from obscurity in the North East of England and put him on the world stage.
Since the announcement that Whitesnake were to release an album of Deep Purple classics there has been great anticipation and speculation from fans across the globe. Opinion seems split on the merits of such an album. On the one side there are those who are excited by the prospect of a fresh take on these classics and on the other side are those who see little point in the release and would be far happier with new material from the band.
Well, after all the hype and much discussion the album is finally here. Or at least the Japanese version is. Fans elsewhere will need to wait until May 18th for its release by Frontiers Music srl.
This album is the first to feature new guitar slinger Joel Hoekstra who replaces Doug Aldrich. The rest of the band comprises of Reb Beach (guitar), Michael Devin (Bass), Tommy Aldrich (Drums) and of course David Coverdale of vocals.
The album starts with “Burn” and its unmistakable riff. While initially it doesn’t stray too far from the original, by the mid point of the song you begin to appreciate the effect that the two guitars bring to the table to help layer the and flesh out the sound and there is some meaty guitar work here.
“You fool No One” has a nice alternative intro and again some nice interplay on guitar with the solo work really sounding fresh and adding a new dimension to the songs. Its worth pointing out the the harmonies originally supplied by Glenn Hughes are adequitley covered (though there are very few compare to Glenn Hughes at his best in my opinion).
The riff to “Love Child” kicks in next and theres not too much different here. Coverdale is in good voice though the lyrics seem a little uneasy given Coverdale’s years, but hey ho, thats rock n’ roll.
The tempo drops with the introduction of “Sail Away” with a luscious acoustic arrangement. I’ve always felt that these bluesy ballads are where Coverdale shines.
The classics keep coming with “The Gypsy” (another good rendition, though I can’t help but feel the drums are far too prominent in the mix on this), “Lady Double Dealer” (with a nice little vocal harmony twist) and the stage favourite “Mistreated“.
“Holy Man” is up next and is an interesting inclusion because the original was sung by Glenn Hughes rather than Coverdale. The whole arrangement is quite different to the original with Coverdale’s version being less funky. Hoekstra shines again on acoustic and its good to hear Coverdale’s take on what is one of my favourite Purple songs.
There are more fresh approaches to “Might Just Take Your Life” and “You Keep On Moving” which keep things interesting followed by “Soldier of Fortune“, another long time favourite of mine treated to more gorgeous acoustic guitar work and Coverdale sounding as soulful as ever.
“Lay Down Stay Down” picks up the pace again before the iconic “Stormbringer” keeps up a storm (pun intended). There’s the obligatory bonus track on the Japanese release which is an alternative mix of the afore mentioned “Soldier Of Fortune“, which seems something of a cop out. I’d have been far more interested to hear a Coverdale take on “This Time Around” in a similar way to how “Holy Man” was tackled.
Its amazing to hear how well these songs stand up after 30 years and they sound as fresh and relevant as they did back then. Of course comparisons will always be drawn against the originals and I often feel you can’t beat the original version of a song. I have to admit I was leaning towards the nay sayers on this release, however, I’ve surprised myself how much I enjoyed it and in fact I haven’t stopped playing it since I got it and have found myself replaying the originals again.
If your on the fence, or even if you’ve written the idea of entertaining this album off altogether I recommend giving it a try. You might just be surprised.
01 – Burn
02 – You Fool No One (interpolating “Itchy Fingers”)
03 – Love Child
04 – Sail Away (featuring “Elegy For Jon”)
05 – The Gypsy
06 – Lady Double Dealer
07 – Mistreated
08 – Holy Man
09 – Might Just Take Your Life
10 – You Keep On Moving
11 – Soldier Of Fortune
12 – Lay Down Stay Down
13 – Stormbringer
14 – Soldier Of Fortune (Alternate Mix) *
* Japanese Bonus Track
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