Album review: WHITESNAKE – Slip Of The Tongue

WHITESNAKE - Slip Of The Tongue

Rhino (2LP) [Release date 04.10.19]

After the success (and continued line-up shake-ups) of 1987’s Whitesnake album, which when eight times Platinum in the US alone, former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale took the band’s look and direction a stage further for 1989’s Slip Of The Tongue. I was at university when this album came out, and it’s hard to believe it’s 30 years old now.

There are several editions available including a multi disc CD that features Coverdale’s track commentary only previously available on the promo only LP “Wagging Tongue version”. Nice. Here we get a lovely package over 2LPs with some bonus tracks and a nice gatefold sleeve. The vinyl has a solid heavy feel and it sounds pretty bloody good too. So we’re off to a great start.

As a stand alone album, this is a fantastic set, but was always in danger of living in the shadow of 1987. The image if a highlight fuelled perm with drawn-in cheeks seems a prerequisite for the line-up of Coverdale, guitarists Steve Vai and Adrian Vandenberg, bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Tommy Aldridge. The sound had more in common with an over polished Led Zeppelin than Whitesnake’s own blues roots, and it divided fans, the Stateside success drawing in more new fans than it lost.

Although credited, Vandenberg (who, like Vivian Campbell, came in to replace Sykes when the band went American) does not play on the album due to surgery on a hand injury, so Steve Vai was brought in to complete all the guitar parts (Vandenberg did co-write several sons).

The 5 minute title track opens and is a classic slice of big hair rock/metal, giving MTV a blast, the album also features more balladic tracks like ‘Sailing Ships’. Although crunchy at times, Vai’s guitar is fluid, and while the flamboyancy is a pleasure to listen to, it doesn’t necessarily suit the music. The rhythm section is solid enough, driving the songs along well. It’s what this kind of music required, but lacks the feel and melody of the original Paice/Murray era.

‘Now You’re Gone’ and ‘The Deeper The Love’ are fine tracks, and Don Airey’s keyboards add a nice touch. Classic radio material.

Additional work was recorded by keyboard player David Rosenthal and backing vocalist (and former Deep Purple bandmate Glenn Hughes), but much of this didn’t make the final cut.

The change in the band’s sound is highlighted on the reworking of ‘Fool For Your Loving’. A great listen, better if you don’t know the original.

While it is a good album, and successful too, as I said it’ll forever be in 1987’s shadow, and in the big picture it’s not Whitesnake’s best. But definitely worth celebrating this release does that well. The wonderful and essential packaging bolsters the score. On this double LP the original album is spread to two and a half sides, and there are 7 bonus b-sides and remixes.

To paraphrase Dame Coverdale: “Here’s a reissue for ya”. ****1/2

Review by Joe Geesin

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