Album review: WHITESNAKE – Flesh & Blood

WHITESNAKE - Flesh & Blood

Frontiers [Release date 10.05.19]

You have to hand it to Mr. Coverdale.  He could be forgiven, at the age of 67, for retiring to his Nevada estate contemplating his career and his royalty cheques.  But, no, even though this is the first ‘snake album since 2011′s Forevermore he doesn’t rest on former glories.  He’s got something to promote at this year’s Download and hopefully a UK tour to come later in the year.

In recent years, and in spite of a slew of live albums, we’ve had Doug Aldrich’s departure, vocal ups and downs when performing live, but we’ve never really doubted David’s staying power.

The first thing to say is that this album pulls no punches or contains any great surprises.  It’s a good solid offering that merely tops up the legacy rather than expands it.  There’s nothing that veers off the post-1980s template.  Even though the personnel may frequently change, the essentially melodic hard rock raunch remains.

Doug Aldrich’s departure was a little shocking as he’d provided great continuity as much as stage visibility, and it seems his one-time fellow guitar slinger Reb Beach has now stepped up to the plate in the songwriting department.

For the most it’s business as usual from the rampant blues rock opener ‘Good To See You Again’ to the urgency of ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’  via the driving ‘Gonna Be Alright’.  There’s some good riffage courtesy of Beach and Joel Hoekstra, even if the title track borrows an AC/DC vibe.  And resistance to a song like ‘Well I Never’ is totally and utterly futile.

In places you can’t help thinking this is almost hard rock by numbers.  ‘Hey You (You Make Me Rock)’ is fairly ordinary, ‘Get Up’ is fairly throwaway in a ‘Tiger Feet’ sort of way,  whilst ‘Always & Forever’ channels Coverdale’s inner Phil Lynott.  And ‘Sands Of Time’ is far too close to Led Zeppelin.  There’s nothing here with the majesty and durability of the song ‘Forevermore’.  And you can’t help thinking he’s had eight years to develop something equally as powerful.

The album is less convincing when the pace slackens although it does provide the necessary light and shade.  The crooning ‘When I Think Of You (Color Me Blue)’ is straight out of his (or anyone else’s) late-eighties AOR songbook whilst ‘After All’ provides the obligatory acoustic strum.

Lots to like though, not least the realisation that David Coverdale hasn’t quite hung up his tight trousers.   ****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 September 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 22 September 2020.

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