Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Whitesnake - Forevermore (Deluxe Edition)

Forevermore (Deluxe Edition)
Frontiers Records

When Whitesnake made their return to the hard rock scene with their ‘Good To Be Bad’ album back in 2008, few were anticipating much from the album. But to almost everyone’s surprise, the album was a huge return to form for the band (Especially given where the band last left off back in 1997 with the rather patchy ‘Restless Heart’), and proved that there was still plenty of venom in group’s bite. Three years on, and Whitesnake are back. And while the band has undergone a bit of a line-up change in that time (Group founder/vocalist David Coverdale, lead/rhythm guitarist Doug Aldrich, lead/rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Reb Beach and keyboardist Timothy Drury remain from the last album, with ex-Lynch Mob bassist Michael Devin and ex-Billy Idol/Pride & Glory drummer Brian Tichy joining the band this time around), Whitesnake remain as strong as ever with the release of their eleventh and latest studio release ‘Forevermore’.
The band comes out with all guns blazing on the opening track ‘Steal Your Heart Away’, which combines their trademark mix of the heavy hard rocking blues (The use of harmonica and slide guitar) and classic rock, wrapped in a production that allows the guitar work of Aldrich and Beach to take centre stage. Coverdale too is as impressive as ever, with his vocals sounding strong, even if his range isn’t as high as it once was.
‘All Out Of Luck’ maintains the loose blues based rock sound of the opener, while the incredibly catchy ‘Love Will Set You Free’ (The first single/promotional video clip lifted from the album), the modern sounding ‘Tell Me How’, the classic ‘I Need You (Shine A Light)’ and the guitar heavy ‘Love And Treat Me Right’ keep the album moving with enough guitar driven anthems to keep any Whitesnake fan convinced of their ability to deliver quality hard rock in spades.
Like any Whitesnake album, ‘Forevermore’ isn’t short of a few ballads. But unlike some of their previous efforts, the ballads on the latest album are easily some of the strongest songs the band has written in some years. ‘Easier Said Than Done’ is fairly typical of Whitesnake’s slower tempo kind of numbers, and could have easily slotted on 1987’s self-titled album without sounding too out of place. But it’s the acoustic based ‘One Of These Days’ where the band really shows their willingness to try their hand at something a little different and riskier, and with considerable success.
But as strong as the two previously mentioned songs are its ‘Fare Thee Well’ and the title track ‘Forevermore’ where the band really shines. The former is a melancholy and heartfelt song that features some great guitar work and a great vocal performance from Coverdale, and really shows the song writing strengths of Coverdale and Aldrich (Which rival Coverdale’s glory years alongside guitarist Adrian Vandenberg). The latter however is an absolute epic classic, with its gentle acoustic ballad-like start, its gentle keyboard orchestration and all out rocking tail end, the song is nothing short of a stunning closer to the album.
As part of the deluxe edition, the album comes with an alternate mix of ‘Love Will Set You Free’ and the ‘My Evil Drums Mix’ of ‘My Evil Ways’, both of which are interesting, but differ little from the originals, which means their ultimately unessential. The acoustic version of ‘Forevermore’ on the other hand is definitely a worthwhile bonus, with the song standing up surprising well despite the absence of abundance of keyboards and guitars heard in the original version. As they say, the sign of a strong song is when it can be transferred acoustic guitar without losing any of its power and magic.
On the D.V.D. side of things, the eleven and a half minute documentary ‘The Making Of ‘Forevermore’’ and Coverdale’s eight and a half minute ‘Track By Track’ commentary are insightful and entertaining, and definitely worth checking out.
Also included is the promotional video clip for ‘Love Will Set You Free’, as well as a ten and a half minute making of documentary (Which is again, another worthy addition to the D.V.D.).
Although a little long (‘Dogs In The Street’ and ‘My Evil Ways’ could have perhaps served better as bonus tracks), ‘Forevermore’ is another strong album for Coverdale and co., and a definite candidate for one of this year’s strongest classic rock releases.

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© Justin Donnelly