WHITESNAKE - The Purple Album (Review)

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Lady Double Dealer
Holy Man
Soldier Of Fortune
You Fool No One
Produced By: 
David Coverdale, Michael McIntyre, Reb Beach
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Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
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Whitesnake return with their latest lineup (adding the fresh blood of Joel Hoekstra on guitar and the return of old ‘Snake Tommy Aldridge on drums) for this new album of classic Deep Purple material.
But not any old Purple tunes – the classic songs of the David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Richie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice lineup, known infamously as the Mk. III and IV lineups. Mk IV was the one album Come Taste The Band featuring Tommy Bolin in place of Blackmore.
Fans seem split into two very distinct camps on this one. There’s the older fans who grew up with Deep Purple who are calling for Sir Coverdale’s head for committing the sacrilege of taking on these tunes; then there are the newer, generally younger fans that are not as familiar with the legacy of the Purple ones and don’t have the same reverent ownership or knowledge of these 70s classics.
Me? At the risk of getting splinters in my ass, I’ve got one foot in both camps. I love Deep Purple. There’s simply no band like them and they remain one of the founding artists of this whole genre.
If one loves the history of rock music, you can’t help but to have discovered Deep Purple somewhere along the path. And I also love Whitesnake. Even more so. I’m of the age that I grew up with the 80s Snake. Slide It In, the monumental 1987 and those records that followed.
So with my fanboy credentials for both aspects of this release established and my admiration of current guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra, it’s onto the music at hand.
First of all – the production is huge. Loud, big, rocked up into a more obvious Whitesnake guitar driven feel over the more guitar groove/Hammond organ sound of the originals.
Hoekstra and Beach play all over this record, adding new solos in a couple of parts and their own take on the dynamics of what Deep Purple would sound like under a duel guitar attack.
The biggest issue and perhaps the one that many are tiptoeing around is the vocal capacity of Mr. David Coverdale – Lord of the Snake and truly one of the finest vocalists in rock history.
His dulcet tones are still unrivalled. That deep, sultry voice is every bit as enticing as ever.
The same can’t be said of his higher range and the trademark Coverdale scream. Both have weakened considerably over the years, but fair play to David for doing a still commendable job at the grand age of 63. Yes, 60-bloomin-3!!! I can’t envision half the people of this world doing what David does at age 30, let alone 63.
So the vocals are hit and miss on occasion, but that’s not getting in my way of enjoying this album.
Burn simply rips your ears to shreds. As it should. Heavier than the original (as are all tracks on the album), the Snake version covers the same ground as recent rocked up versions by Glenn Hughes. It remains one of the greatest hard rock songs ever.
You Fool No One and Sail Away are silky smooth; while The Gypsy keeps one foot on the brake before Lady Double Dealer sees the pedal to the metal.
A seven minute Mistreated is as epic as is required while the fabulous Holy Man retains much of the original’s spirit.
On the downside, Might Just Take Your Life drags a little while You Keep On Moving fails in comparison to the Glenn Hughes versions.
The Joel Hoekstra constructed acoustic guitar delight of Soldier Of Fortune is much better as is the authentic 70s groove of Lay Down Stay Down.
The controversial Stormbringer closes the album with a raucous flurry of guitars and rhythm, but the vocals are so far back in the mix, they are almost washed out. I can see why purists were up in arms over this one and there’s far better within the album.

The Purple Album is a long record. It took me a few listens to better appreciate it and some songs were more instant than others, but if you are going to do a tribute album, you may as well do it well.
Not everyone is going to appreciate this album, but it is by no means as bad as some have made it out to be. I’m sure we’d all prefer an all-new studio album, but this will keep many fans happy while we wait.