Album review: WHITESNAKE: Made In Japan

Whitesnake - Made In Japan

Frontiers Records [Release date: 22.04.13] 2-CD/DVD, DVD and Blu-ray

The big question with Whitesnake in recent years is the quality of David Coverdale’s voice or lack of it.  In spite of vigorous reassurance that ‘the voice’ is intact – from Coverdale himself – it has been plainly obvious that things are amiss in the live arena.

Cue ‘Made In Japan’,  a live update ahead of the band’s arena tour in May with Journey and recorded in October 2011.  Do we really need another live release given Coverdale’s voice situation?  Should we not just return to ‘Live In The Shadow Of The Blues’ (2006) or even earlier, ‘Live In The Heart Of The City’ (1980)?

This succeeds as a document of the band’s live work in 2011-2 but that’s all.  More critical gig-goers will bemoan that recent sets have consisted of a lot of call and response (and the crowd helping on the chorus) and a lot of guitar – here personified on ‘Six String Showdown’ which is frankly awful grandstanding and takes up six minutes whilst Brian Tichy gets the seven minute ‘Drum Solo’  – barely bearable even if you were there soaking up the atmosphere.

Coverdale is best now on the less strenuous songs, so ‘Forevermore’ from the latest studio album just about works.

Overall, the guitar quotient is cranked up in the mix: no problem, Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach are two wonderful players.  The former’s thick tone connects with the bluesier sound of the ‘Snake canon and he takes centre stage whilst Beach is always a sonic match but more of a rock player if here somewhat subservient.

A bonus CD (not supplied for this review) includes sound check versions and several acoustic renditions including ‘Fare Thee Well’, ‘One Of These Days’ and ‘Tell Me How’ whilst the DVD/Blu-ray doesn’t deviate from the CD tracklisting but with a couple of bonus “fan videos”.

If you can accept a more crooning version of the Coverdale vocal and more backing vocal assistance – and maybe there isn’t anything wrong with that as long as there are no ‘David Cover-ups’  (I shall watch the DVD with interest) – this is a reasonable live souvenir.  Although it reminds us that Whitesnake are still pretty formidable in front of a baying audience regrettably it also reveals the ravages of time and the classic set-pieces like  ‘Fool For Your Loving’ and ‘Still Of the Night’ (both included here) have sounded much better. ***

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

Recorded live at their 2011 Loud Park Festival appearance in Japan, Whitesnake are about to release ‘Made In Japan’ on CD and deluxe edition with DVD. Featuring what may be the best Whitesnake line-up to date, and the with a set list made up of a hefty mix of old and new material.   I thought the call-to-arms ‘Tokyo, you can do it..’ might suggest David Coverdale can’t, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Yes, the keys have been dropped to accommodate his voice these days, which gives the songs a heavier and more modern feel- but just have a listen to the vocal on the acoustic version of ‘Good To Be Bad’ and you will find that DC is still bang on the money.

‘Best Years’ is the perfect set opener and ‘Give Me All Your Love Tonight’ literally turns back the years, as does it’s guitar solo, ‘Steal Your Heart Away’ is reminiscent of Coverdale’s work with Jimmy Page in the mid-nineties whilst ‘Forevermore’ has a nice acoustic opening that gives way to a Led Zep style masterpiece.

‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’ sounds exactly like every time I have heard it live, ‘Fool For Your Loving’ is drop key heavy, ‘Here I Go Again’ is priceless and, of course, ‘Still Of The Night’ is a highlight – more than that, it is downright essential. ‘Love Will Set You Free’ is another great live track, as is ‘Is This Love’- how many songs do you need in one set with love in the title?!!

Brian Tichy gets a customary drum solo and he will sorely be missed on the band’s upcoming tour, although long time Whitesnake cohort Tommy Aldridge returns to the drum stool, and then there is ‘Six String Showdown’ a guitar dual between Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach.

The second disc is made up of eight tracks recorded in sound checks and acoustic versions, these include a great run through ‘Lay Down Your Love’, ‘Love Will Set You Free’, ‘Evil Ways’ and ‘Steal Your Heart Away’ plus the Rod Stewart like ‘Fare Thee Well’. Coverdale’s vocals on the acoustic versions of ‘Good To Be Bad’ and ‘Tell Me How’ are simply stunning and his banter with the band in the sound checks is brilliant- very funny and not at all staged.

Whitesnake tour the UK later this month and I for one cannot wait. Here’s a song for ya…  *****

Review by Nikk Gunns

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In this two hour special David Randall plays a selection of the GRTR! reviewer choices for ‘Best of 2019′ and announces the results of the popular poll. First broadcast Sunday 22 December 2019.

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One Response to Album review: WHITESNAKE: Made In Japan

  1. Pingback: Gig review: JOURNEY, WHITESNAKE - Manchester MEN, 23 May 2013 - Get Ready to ROCK! Reviews | Interviews | Blog

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