Good To Be Bad


SPV, 2008

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


On April 22, 2008, the latest lineup of Whitesnake will unleash their first studio album together in celebration of the band's 30-year existence. I lost track of the band after Slip Of The Tongue, which featured the killer musical lineup of guitarist Steve Vai (who recorded all of the guitars on that release), bassist Rudy Sarzo, and Tommy Aldridge on drums. Along with the sultry vocals of David Coverdale, Tongue was as perfect a follow-up as could be expected after their self-titled commercial smash, released in 1987. So I expected perfection when I started listening to Good To Be Bad. I didn't get it.

Opening track "Best Years" relies too much on Coverdale informing the listener that "These are the best years of my life" without really describing why with any memorable conviction. Instead, "Can You Hear the Wind Blow" should have kicked off the release. This track features double-layered guitars from Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach and a riff that is stronger than “Best Years.” Shifting into a cut-time feel, the song then builds to a crescendo with lots of drum fills from Chris Frazier. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But after that starts the downhill slide. "Call On Me" is predictable, and non-drummers will be able to pick up the cymbal crashes the first time through because Frazier doesn't quite exude creativity. Meanwhile, the ballad "All I Want, All I Need" recalls the groove of "Is This Love" complete with heartfelt vocals when Coverdale sings, "I'll be your friend / By your side until the very end / You're all I want, all I need / So baby flow like a river to me." You shouldn't doubt Coverdale thinks that these are good lyrics because his career is full of comparable lines that ooze with clichés and/or head shaking awfulness.

Things pick up with the album’s title track, an aggressive rocker that is closer to the vibe of "Can You Hear the Wind Blow" and recalls the swagger of "Slow -n- Easy" from 1984's Slide It In. The groove is serious and delivers the nostalgia that fans who pick up this release have been craving. "All For Love" continues the old-school vibe with Aldrich and Beach providing plenty of fancy fretwork. Even the next track, the longest on the release with a run time of 6:15, "Summer Rain" seems able to adequately recall the glory days. Coverdale is reflective when he sings, "Lately I've been thinking / even though I'm miles away / I can feel your love around me / you're with me every day / and all the roads I've travelled and all I've been through / no matter where life takes me / I'm never far from you." He delivers the lyrics in a way that you can believe a live audience will sing out loud if the band plays this song in concert. But then it's back to the raunchy Coverdale when he demands, "Lay down your love / lay it down on me" in the next track, "Lay Down your Love.”

The burning question is: “does this material compare favorably to Whitesnake's legacy?" I answer, "Yes, it does." This is not the Slip of the Tongue II that I had hoped for or even Whitesnake II. Instead, this is Coverdale, older but still raunchy. I would have liked to have heard more cut-loose musical adventures as the material here is fairly safe. Following their world tour in support of this release, maybe Coverdale will call Vai, Sarzo, and Aldridge and give us Tongue II. In the meantime, this release will hold fans over until the real deal returns on a Whitesnake release.

Rating: C

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© 2008 Paul Hanson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of SPV, and is used for informational purposes only.