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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whitesnake – 'Live at Donington 1990' album review

Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990 album review
Released through: Frontiers records. Release date: Available now

Whitesnake, the 'David Coverdale Band,' for all intents and purposes, since the musicians surrounding the main man seem to have changed so much over the years - Since 1977 - just as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow used to do.
The line up that took to the stage in 1990 was the line up that recorded the ‘Slip of the Tongue’ album with the exception of the keyboards, although in fact Adrian Vandenberg was not present on the recording sessions due to a wrist injury, so new recruit Steve Vai actually completed all the album’s guitar parts.
The ‘Live at Donington 1990’ album featured David Coverdale (Of course!), Steve Vai, Adrian Vandenberg (Back on board), Rudy Sarzo (Bass), Tommy Aldridge (Drums) and guest keys man, Rick Serate.
This was Whitesnake’s third appearance at Donington’s Monster’s of Rock festival and their second time as headliners there, playing to around 100,000 rock hungry British fans.

They opened the show with the title track of the ‘Slip of the Tongue’ album and possibly the whole emotion of the event, was initially too much for Coverdale as seems to struggle a little to be honest on this opening number. Vai is just soloing like crazy and the band is simply a powerhouse and wall of sound!
‘Slide It In’ is up next and it’s a real treat for the Donington crowd and Coverdale is belting the tune out, much like the opener.
No wonder he finally endured throat problems in 2009, guessing the old vocal chords can only handle so much and he’d already had problems before in 1986 where it looked as though he may have been finished, but as always, the man keeps coming back!

Next up is ‘Judgement Day’ which starts huge and then eases back before getting into that almost (Led) Zeppelin like groove and again Vai is all over the song and his performance overall the whole performance is basically fitting as many solo’s into the show as is humanly possible!
Coverdale in some parts again seemed to really have pushed himself too much as he’s almost straining at times here.

‘Slow and Easy’ actually sounds great as it opens and the guitar tone is presently a little differently from its original format and it comes across very well. That said in the main guitar solo part, it almost seems as though Vandenberg and Vai are a little at cross purposes, as when Vandenberg is trying to play his solo and Vai takes the rhythm part, he has trouble trying to contain himself … You’ll see!

‘Kittens Got Claws’ next is a pure riff fest for both players, the song itself was always perhaps a little throwaway, but a fun number nonetheless, expressed by Coverdale at the start, with his introduction of, ‘Here kitty, kitty,’ and Vandenberg and Vai just let loose!
When it comes to the solo though it’s weird as it almost hits a Van Halen like bridge section, then with the solo both players are kind of all over each other.

Next it’s Adrian Vandenberg’s solo spot and it's kind of reminiscent of the intro to Michael Schenker’s ‘Lost Horizons’ live, in his piece ‘Adagio for Strato’ which then leads into ‘Flying Dutchman Boogie.’ Loads of widdly, widdly stuff here, where he’s now accompanied by the rest of the band.
‘Is This Love,’ possibly now the bands best know song next and I think that Vai seriously over plays on this one, while for Coverdale, it’s a tune that really suits his voice and kind of gives the guy a breather, compared to all the other songs he’s really belted out.

It’s back to the cheesy song titles next with ‘Cheap An’ Nasty,’ and sure enough prior to the solo, there another sub-Van Halen type bridge with ol’ Coverdale even adding the ‘Mmmm yeah, just to the left a bit … Don’t talk with your mouth full …’ innuendo and then the solo just rips it up.

‘Crying in the Rain’ closes the first disc here, clocking in at just under fourteen minutes, with it’s extended intro, then Tommy Aldridge’s drum solo in the middle and various other bits and pieces. A great song that is seriously exaggerated here though, with extended solos everywhere.

Disc two is slightly shorter than the first, opening with the modern version of ‘Fool For Your Lovin’,’ very different from it’s original incarnation on the ‘Ready and Willing’ album of ’80.
With Adrian Vandenberg back in the band after his wrist issues, it does seem a lot of the time on this recording that both players are fighting for the spotlight. I do recall in a more recent interview Coverdale was asked about the addition of Steve Vai to the band and he said, he was kind of ‘persuaded’ to ‘go with it’ for extra clout, but in hindsight, as much as he’s an excellent player that Vai really wasn’t a fit for Whitesnake.

Next up, Steve Vai gets to perform his elaborate style, with two tracks from his ‘Passion and Warfare’ release in ‘For the Love of God’ and ‘The Audience is Listening.’ All very good stuff, but a little overboard for a Whitesnake gig, I mean come on … The guy gets just over eight and a half minutes playtime, which was certainly more than Mr. Vandenberg. I’m sure it was written into the contract!

‘Here I Go Again’ is next brings back loads of great memories of just how fantastic the ‘80’s were for some killer songs.
It’s a rich and lush track, whether you hear the original version from 1981 or the re-recorded version on Whitesnake’s ‘1987’ album, then this version too. Anyway you look at it, the crowd always loved it!
Another number from the ‘Coverdale / (John) Sykes’ era of writing is next in ‘Bad Boys’ again, milked for all it’s worth by Mr. Vai.

The ultimate song for all British Whitesnake fans was always ‘Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,’ for pure crowd participation value.
Ironically, this was never carried over for US audiences, as I guess it came from that earlier ‘unknown’ period of Whitesnake for US audiences, which is a shame, as US fans have missed out on some great rockin’ blues inspired tunes from the album’s ‘Trouble' (1978), ‘Lovehunter’ (1979) and the previously mentioned 'Ready and Willing’ (1980).
Coverdale does sound here like he’s struggling at times, bit of a shame, but after presenting the newer more American driven Whitesnake numbers from ‘Whitesnake (1987)’ and ‘Slip of the Tongue,’ it kind of rips his voice up a hell of a lot.

Last number on here is ‘Still of the Night’ which at the time of its first release had the band accused of ripping off Led Zeppelin, in its structure.
To be honest, however you look at it; it’s a killer tune that so many old and newer fans alike really loved.

It’s not a bad live album at all, OK, in places there’s a lot of overplaying but it was – musician wise – a killer line up of players, who all in their own right knew how to present themselves live on stage. I’m sure the DVD is very good indeed and personally I’d rather have reviewed that here, as I’m sure it has a lot more value to it than this.

By the way, don't forget, this is also available on DVD, which I wish I had, as I'm sure that would be a treat to review!
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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