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Whitesnake 30th Anniversary 

I’ve been listening to the 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of the 1987 self-titled album from Whitesnake since it hit Spotify on Friday.

The whole deluxe version is available for streaming, so kudos to David Coverdale for not punishing Whitesnake fans who prefer to stream. From time to time, bands release deluxe editions however they only put part of the release on a streaming service, withholding the rest for the physical edition with the hope people would go out and buy it.

So the original album kicks off the 30th anniversary edition. It’s still a solid album from start and finish. Coverdale might have racked up a $3 million plus debt recording it, but I am sure Geffen Records recouped their investment and Coverdale got to make some coin himself.

Then again, Sykes was hired in 84 with a million dollar sign-on fee. I would presume that also came from Geffen, which would then turn out to be another amount Coverdale had to pay back. Because, you know, labels recoup everything before they start to pay anything out.

The original LP version I have is the North American edition, which has a different track list.

1. Crying in the Rain ’87
2. Bad Boys
3. Still of the Night
4. Here I Go Again ’87
5. Give Me All Your Love
6. Is This Love
7. Children of the Night
8. Straight for the Heart
9. Don’t Turn Away

And to be honest, I prefer the above better. I guess John Kalodner would have had a say on how the album was sequenced. I also purchased the European version because it had the two extra tracks not on the North American version. And then I purchased some of the 7 inch singles like “Give Me All Your Love” and “Is This Love” and 12 inch singles for “Still Of The Night” and “Here I Go Again” because they had tracks from earlier albums on em. Then I purchased the CD of the album. What else was I going to do with my money?

There is no denying the knock out punches in the above track list. But I also like how they have “Straight For The Heart” in the middle on the 30th Anniversary edition. That’s where it belongs.

The album track order on the 30th Anniversary Edition goes like this.

1. Still Of The Night
2. Give Me All Your Love
3. Bad Boys
4. Is This Love
5. Here I Go Again ‘87
6. Straight For The Heart
7. Looking For Love
8. Children Of The Night
9. You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again
10. Crying In The Rain
11. Don’t Turn Away

The live tracks from a gig in Tokyo that followed the album were disappointing. Live shows are about selling an experience. If you record a live gig, it’s riddled with errors. Most live albums from the past that I enjoy like, “Live After Death” and “Tribute”, well they had some things redone in the studio to make em sound better. In saying that, I like how Coverdale gets the crowd involved in a sing-a-long. Apart from seeing the artist in the flesh, the “sing-a-longs” and the “extended jams” are the experiences the live show sells.

But the Evolution demos are gold. Pure Gold.

The way Coverdale has edited them together to demonstrate the evolution of each song is excellent. It just shows how a good chorus or a vocal melody evolves into a song. In some of the demo’s Coverdale is lost for words, but he’s hearing the melody and he repeats the same lines so he has something on tape to go back to later on.

Sykes on those jam versions; solo’s and riffs like hell. He’s unrefined and spontaneous and just trying stuff out, seeing what sticks and connects. The beauty of demos are the mistakes. There are no maps but the artist sort of knows where they are going. So they try and try and try until they get there. Coverdale is pure evidence of trying out vocal melodies and vocal phrasings.

But once they establish the hook or the chorus or the verse riff or just a groove, they start to map it out. That’s the beauty and rawness of music.

For example, in “Still Of The Night”. In the first minute, Coverdale is drumming on his legs, singling and adlibbing while Sykes is playing a riff over the normal F#5 chord. Then the phone rings and the next bit you hear from the minute mark to 1.45, I believe is from another song writing session. Then it evolves into a band rehearsal. And it just keeps on evolving from there. It’s edited to show an evolution. And of course, Sykes is shredding like a maniac in the band rehearsal. So originally, I believe the expectation was to have an up-tempo lead break which then morphs into the solo riff. At the 4.48 minute mark it evolves into another band rehearsal session, which this time showcases the embryo of what would become the moody interlude and how the outro came to be.

“Give Me All Your Love” was interesting to hear. It’s basically an embryo of what the song would become. At 1.38, I believe it evolved into a different take. This time we hear the Chorus we know and the tempo is a bit quicker. Then from 3.17 it evolves into a band rehearsal and the tempo again is just a bit quicker. This time we get a Chorus and some lead improvisations from Sykes. At 4.12 it evolves into another band rehearsal. With each evolution, the song is getting closer to the version we all know and love. This time we get the Chorus again before the lead break and Sykes again is improvising. At 5.20 it evolves into another band rehearsal.

“Bad Boys” original demo is to a drum machine. Yep that massive pedal point riff is played a lot slower to a drum machine. But Coverdale and Sykes had the Chorus melody from the outset albeit with som different words. From 1.39 the song morphs into a different song writing session (with the drum machine going again). This time we get the Chorus again, very similar to what we know and the riff is getting closer to being the metal pedal point monster we know. Then at 2.49 we get a band rehearsal version. This kicks in at the lead break section which is very different to the one committed to tape. Then at 3.25 it evolves into a different band rehearsal and the riff is there as we know it. The tempo is also quicker. Maybe a bit too quick.

“Is This Love” version starts off with the words;

“This is the Chorus to take over the world”

Coverdale and Sykes had the hook. They repeated it over and over again and over again because it was that good. And then they built the song around it. I am pretty sure from 1.37 when the verse riff is played it’s from a different song writing session. Then from 2.01 the song is performed with a drum machine. Again, the chorus is repeated over and over again.
I can go on and on and on about these “Evolution” versions. It’s best to invest time and check em out yourself. 

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8 thoughts on “Whitesnake 30th Anniversary 

  1. Great write up Dude!
    Agreed to hear the songs in the demo form are awesome!
    Crying In The Rain Sykes just lifts off on the solo and the Lil Mtn version is wild as there is no solo which is cool to hear two different versions of the song…..
    The live stuff is alright though to me as I have a thing for live shows but Aldridge does not have that Powell groove on the Slide it In material…
    Heard this show years ago on a bootleg but Coverdale has beefed up the sound which is nice!
    For a deluxe this one was done right!

    • It was a great combination of artists at different stages of their career that delivered an album with top notch performances. One of the other comments mentions how Aynsley Dunbar doesn’t get the credit he deserves. And that’s 100% true. He was born in 1946 (compared to Coverdale 1951, Sykes 1959 and Murray 1950) and older than the rest of the guys and more rooted in jazz fusion than hard rock/metal. But man he could groove and really pound those skins

    • You know it’s funny you mention the DVD documentary. From other bands I have so many deluxe editions and I still haven’t watched the footage on the bonus DVD… the last one I watched was a Dream Theaters reality TV documentary for Portnoy’s replacement

  2. Curtis R Olson says:

    Great thoughts. I have followed your work and know you are a Sykes and Whitesnake fan. I am looking forward to listening to the 30th. Whenever the topic of the Whitesnake recording comes up, I am surprised at what little note Aynsley Dunbar receives. Powell may have been the longer term backbone of Whitesnake, and while Aldridge is awesome live, his studio work has never been well documented or as electric (post peak Whitesnake, Ozzy, a bit of Pat Travers, and BOA). Aynsley plays his signature back beat strong and hard through the entire album. He was an elder statesman of rock by then at the ripe age of 41 or something. But, he brings a unique and fresh drum sound as does Sykes guitars. It’s a pity that line-up blew up after only one recording. None of them ever reached those musical heights again.

    • Curtis R Olson says:

      Further… hearing Aldridge, Vandenberg, Sarzo, and Campbell play the music from that recording only pisses me off. While monster musicians and showmen, those guys have made a career out of playing other people’s stuff. Watching Vandenberg’s clownish performance of Still of the Night on the MTV music awards is crushing.

      • I agree on the MTV music awards performance and the whole fake violin bow thing for the interlude before the solo section. And from memory I do believe they mimed it to a backing tape..
        for the live tracks, they are what they are.. the fact that the lead breaks changed was just too much for me..

    • You’re 100% right. Dunbar doesn’t get his dues at all. Like Kerslake before him (who Aldridge also replaced), they are unsung heroes of great albums who never really got to bath in the spotlight of those albums.

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