[hand] [face]
The Original Deep Purple Web Pages
The Highway Star

Buffet of all the sounds

David Coverdale; image courtesy of Frontier Records

David Coverdale spoke to the Metal Edge magazine, mostly about the ’87 self-titled Whitesnake album.

Coming out of Deep Purple, what was your vision for Whitesnake? And how have you expanded on that since the ’70s?

David Coverdale: It’s a buffet of all the sounds that I love. Some of the arrangements are symphonic because I adore classical music. You might not realize it, but concertos with three movements resemble a typical pop scenario. And having said that, I’ve always wanted Whitesnake to be like an orchestra. I never wanted it to be just one or two guitar players; I wanted an ensemble of people to facilitate the buffet of sounds I wanted to create.

You can work with great guitarists all day, can’t you? And, of course, I have. Just look at Jeff Beck, who could play amazing blues, but chose to make the guitar his own via his own identity. Jimi Hendrix and Edward Van Halen did so much with the guitar; I can’t imagine anyone doing what they did. So, I always sought to go after different sounds, and everyone who has been a part of Whitesnake has had their own identity and added that into the mix. It’s like, “Oh, here’s a nice six-pack of beer; I’ll have some of that,” or “Ah, some cheesecake; I’ll take some of that, too.”

Continue reading in Metal Edge.

Thanks to BraveWords for the info.

15 Comments to “Buffet of all the sounds”:

  1. 1
    Eitablepanties says:

    Nevermore would sound great with an orchestra.

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    “The early years of ‘Snake were slow-going, with murky production values hampering Coverdale’s powerhouse vision. What’s more, Whitesnake’s records seldom resonated with U.S. audiences. But all that changed with the arrival of young axe-slinger John Sykes, who came aboard in 1984 at the tail end of the Slide It In era.”

    Metal Edge writes the same blurb as everyone: “murky production”. What the hell was “murky” about Martin Birch’s production of the Snakebite EP to Saints & Sinners/Slide It In? You could hear every instrument and DC’s voice properly (Colin Hodkinson’s bass suffered on Slide It In, but unlike Neil Murray he found nothing noteworthy to play alongside Cozy in any case), no mean feat in a band with two lead guitars, a busy rhythm section (Murray/Dowle and Murray/Paice) and an even with WS still prominent in the mix (if not quite as prominent as with DP) Jon Lord.

    The 1987 steroid production is grand and larger-than-life in your face, but is it transparent? The zillion guitar tracks and the dramatic drums plus Don Airey’s omnipresent permeating synth layers (and keyboard bass evicting much of Neil Murray’s work) are made to overwhelm, granted, but high end Hi-Fi reference material this ain’t. It’s very much of its time and frankly a bit laboursome to listen to in one go – too much of everything.

    The old WS productions weren’t glossy, true, but at least functional and much less tiring on the ear. And certainly the opposite of “murky”, the Snakebite EP perhaps excepted.

  3. 3
    Leslie S Hedger says:

    I’ll take the pre 1984 Whitesnake any day of the week. I thought their production was spot on.

  4. 4
    Nicola Dolby says:

    Saw Whitesnake in concert in 1982, they were a fantastic band. The first time I heard ‘Still Of The Night’ I immediately thought, “here’s the new Whitesnake, a Zeppelin cover band!” Listening to the Coverdale-Page album shows John Sykes completely missed the point. 1987 was an attempt to break America, in the end it’s bland and the production is badly over-compressed. Slide It In was the last good Whitesnake album.

  5. 5
    McGregor says:

    It is that ‘biggest is best’ mentality with the over the top huge & also shallow sounding production. It is a bit like the ‘look at me’ scenario, I am bigger & glossier & now in your face etc. Woeful it is & I loathe it. Those early Whitesnake recordings are true to the sound of the band, not trying to be bigger etc than what it is. Strip away all that dross of the MTV era & what do we have, poor songwriting & more MTV rubbish. So many British bands fell for that in the 1980’s, is it a coincidence the quality of the compositions also fell away, I think not. Cheers.

  6. 6
    Andy says:

    Martin Birch did a great job on the early Snake albums, although Snakebite was a bit flat. David’s remixing of his later catalogue has been a mixed bag. Some are good, some leave me wanting to hear the original. I’m not a fan of adding musicians who where not on the original track to make contributions. That’s too revisionist for me. On the otherhand, Hungry for Love on the Slide It In Box, sound great remixed.

  7. 7
    john says:

    @3 I absolutely agree
    @4 “Slide It In was the last good Whitesnake album.” I would add “Restless heart”. Lotta blues there, it recalls the good old (great) ones, specially Slide it in.

  8. 8
    Daniel says:

    Coverdale is the new Jimmy Page. Non-touring artist only coming out with repackaged and in Coverdale’s strange case, rerecorded versions of old albums. He has the right to curate his catalog of course but he’s hardly an active artist anymore. That job is left to the living, breathing Deep Purple and Glenn Hughes.

  9. 9
    Georgivs says:

    I blame the fact that the ‘1987’ crime happened squarely on DP Mk II guys, and Jon and Ritchie in particular. By releasing ‘Perfect Strangers’ and selling it by millions, they effectively incited DC to depart from his blues roots and make a squarely commercial album. Just imagine a guy at the end of his wits and 3 million in debt. Think about his mental state. What went through his head, when three of his old pals, not half as sexy as him and actually older, went back to the top of the charts. Geez, thought he, ‘if they could make it work with their outdated ’70s stuff, I can make it with a little more production. I can actually outdo them!’ Let us not forget that Jon left DC out in the cold, when he rejoined DP, adding insult to injury. And, as the final proof of DC’s innocence is the dark role that Don played in the process. He may not be forthcoming about it these days, but we, old musicologists, never forget. I fully absolve David.

  10. 10
    MacGregor says:

    @ 9 – I doubt that DP reforming in 1984 would have given Coverdale any impetus to cash in on the ‘Stardom’ MTV thing in the USA. From my memory he was fantasising about the USA is THE place to be recognised properly thing for quite some time before DP reformed. I could be out a little with my memory of the timing but he would have been well aware of that dream of sorts much earlier. I also don’t think Jon Lord left him out in the cold at all. People come & go & Coverdale wasn’t actually treating certain musicians in the band with respect it seems. A live by the sword scenario it was. Cheers.

  11. 11
    Leslie S Hedger says:

    Lord certainly didn’t leave Coverdale out in the cold. Coverdale said Lord left with his blessings.

  12. 12
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Father Georgivs, you’re one disturbing priest let me tell ya!, before you absolve David any further, let’s not rewrite history too much!

    – David wanted to capture America from day one with Whitesnake. The line-up changes, getting John Kalodner in as an A&R advisor, and the US-remix of Slide It In by Keith Olsen all happened long before Perfect Strangers entered the charts. Slide It In (the US remix version) was released in April 1984 and reached a respectable #40 in the Billboard charts (and not a note had yet been recorded by the reassembled Mk II line up), Perfect Strangers came out at the end of October the same year (it reached a good, but not stellar #17 in the Billboard charts, it was the US tour that followed that was a mammoth success).

    – Like any other Whitesnake member ever, Jon Lord was a hired hand with Whitesnake, an employee of David Coverdale. All the record deals ran and run strictly only with David. So Jon was on a wage and not exactly enamoured of the fact that Cozy Powell received more (as he eventually found out).

    – By 1983, Whitesnake were not a happy camp for Jon anymore (he has said as much in an interview according to which a long earlier happy phase with WS was followed by one which he described as “hard work”): The original line-up, people Jon had rated as people and musicians, had been obliterated, including his buddy Little Ian. The new line-up wasn’t working out. Moody was eventually banished from the fold and Jon’s recommendation for a bassist, Colin Hodkinson, dismissed as well. And Raputin Kalodner says something not quite reassuring like: “Jon can stay, he’s not doing any harm.”, while the new guitar Wunderkind Sykes is being poached from a dying Thin Lizzy. Then Galley and Sykes walk in drunken stupor over German car roofs after a night out at a carnival, Mel trips, John crashes into him, voilà nasty broken arm for the former from which he never recuperates fully (he had to wear a brace for the rest of his life to play guitar, Coverdale did not want him to perform with that – mind you, not every band is a Def Leppard as regards cohesion …).

    – Jon’s Hammond position was coming under fire within WS. Slide It In already saw him relegated to more of a background position with fewer solos and more synths at the expense of Hammond sounds. He had been admonished by DC to cut his live solo spot shorter and please refrain from citing Deep Purple riffs in it. And John Sykes came from a band where the keyboarder, Darron Wharton, provided contemporary 80ies synth layers, not percussive Hammond playing with neoclassical runs.

    It was only decades later that DC realized while remastering and remixing his past work how much Jon’s Hammond had enhanced WS. In 1984/85, however, his comment to Perfect Stangers was a sour “It’s nice to hear Jon Lord play something other than a Hammond for once.” with upstart John Sykes contributing inanely “That Hammond sound dated us ten years.”

    In truth, I believe DC was happy to see Jon leave for Purple pastures in 1984, it was an elegant win-win situation for both, you don’t really want to edge a Jon Lord out of a band unless you really have to. Jon didn’t fit into the new image either. Impressed by Ozzy’s line-up and presentatiom, DC wanted an uncluttered four-piece look on stage, hence the introduction of an off-stage keyboard player (a nadir in WS’ history) following Jon’s departure.

    Try telling Jon Lord to play off-stage!

    – “Jon left DC out in the cold, when he rejoined DP, adding insult to injury. And, as the final proof of DC’s innocence is the dark role that Don played in the process.”


    Fact: When in 1981, Billy Squier (whose ‘Don’t Say No” album was selling like hot cakes in the US, top five on the Billboard album chart and remaining on the chart for over two years/111 weeks!) opened for WS on the European Come And Get It Tour (I saw Billy Squier give WS a VERY hard time in Mannheim or Heidelberg, he and his band were shit-hot and tight with an energetic performance and immediately catchy material), the management of Billy made a very lucrative offer to Jon Lord and Ian Paice to join him for his coming US mammoth tours (he would have loved to have Purple royalty with him as he was a dedicated fan), Jon turned it down (as did Little Ian who didn’t want to do all the touring away from home). That much for supposed lack of loyalty to merely an “employer”.

    And what blame/”dark role” is supposed to lie with poor Don Airey? When Jon left WS, Richard Bailey (of Magnum, Trapeze and Alaska pedigree) became the new (off-stage) keyboarder with them

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9DhtFP-Y3Q ,

    he was a hired hand, just like Jon before and Don Airey after him. When Don was asked to help with the recording of the 1987 album, he had already cemented his reputation as the go-to-synth-player-for-heavy-acts due to his (credited) work with Rainbow and Ozzy as well as his (uncredited) keyboard playing on Judas Priest’s Defenders Of The Faith (released in early 1984). Had Jon been still around with WS when 1987 was recorded, he would have observed to the request of playing mostly synths on the record with a puzzled: “Excuse me, but why do you then need me to do that?” Jon played synths for occasional embellishment, but they were never his main instrument. With Don it was the other way around, he only became a full-fledged Hammond player again when he took Jon’s seat with DP. (And it actually took him a while to master the instrument as fluidly well as Jon had.)

  13. 13
    Georgivs says:

    You guys don’t like having fun with a bit of revisionist history, do you? 😉

    I was thoroughly having fun reading the last three comments, though. In fact, laughing like hell.

  14. 14
    Mathias says:

    Thanks to Uwe for putting things “straight” (again…)!

    I just love reading his/your more than profund comments (content and language wise ;-)) here for many years (or even decades) as they sometimes have more content than the actual posts that got our attention in the first place, ha ha.

    I consider myself quite well informed about the DP-universe (I deliberately discovered DP in the early 80’s. Independently/parallel I started to tickle the ivories/learn to play organ at that time, so I preferred to follow Whitesnake/JL more concentrated) for decades from various sources (it can no longer be named just a family), but Uwe always manages to open new horizons even to me!

    I wanted to write this off my chestfor a long time.

    I wish there was a function here to extract the comments of individuals concentrated, it could/should fill entire books 😉

  15. 15
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Oh my, danke for all the accolades, Mathias! Will you do the obituary at my funeral?! ; – )

    I started reading about Deep Purple in 1975, it was the Rolling Stone introduction of the then new Mk IV line-up, I had no idea who Tommy Bolin was, CTTB hadn’t even come out yet. Around the same time they also reviewed the Rainbow debut – and panned it! But no matter, ever since then I have devoured anything on DP and its members, bad reviews too. And there was a time when these were in the vast majority because DP was – probably rightfully – regarded as a corporate dinosaur worthy only of derision; you learn something from everything. In the second half of the 70ies, liking DP, Rainbow and Whitesnake was deemed decidedly uncool. You were supposed to like Mink De Ville (nothing wrong with that band) or Talking Heads (nothing wrong with them either, but they didn’t write Burn!). But being a contrarian by nature, I stuck to my guns.

    I always explain it with the fact that my parents let me watch as much TV as I liked as a kid in the sixties and earliest seventies (we then went to Africa and didn’t have a TV at all for three years). It didn’t matter to them whether it was a film with sex scenes, a horror or war movie, a concentration camp documentary, the news or some political magazine. It wasn’t like they didn’t care about me, but they formed the opinion that TV informed about the world at large and can’t do any harm if you put it all into context. And with me at least, it didn’t (yes, my kids could watch whatever they wanted as well!), but it sharpened my sense of visual and acoustic memory. I can easily remember decade(s)-old quotes (verbatim or “along the lines of”) or visual scenes whether they happened in real life, TV or in a movie (my parents also let me watch whatever movies I wanted to see if the cinema would just let me in – and in our small town cinema the owners didn’t give a rat’s ass about age recommendations, when you were able to pay, you got in!). Or interview and other magazine contents for that matter. (I also stated reading newspapers and magazines – lefty-liberal ones of course – from an early age, you should have seen me, around 5th grade or so I could win any political argument in my class, teachers included!)

    As a litigation attorney in my later life, that kind of quasi-photographic memory for things other people tend to forget quickly came in handy (btw: I’m really crap at memorizing numbers or people’s names). So Mom & Dad: Thanks for all the TV + DER SPIEGEL + Stern + Frankfurter Rundschau (the holy trinity of lefty media in Germany). And thanks to my nine years older brother for one day , in 1970, bringing home an album with a noteworthy pop art cover that showed Mount Rushmore with five long-haired young men. The music was sheer noise to a 9-year-old at that time (I liked the Beatles and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich as a kid), but man that cover stuck with me forever and come adolescence and my – then impressive – Airfix 1:72 WW II model airplane collection caving in to the fairer sex, I decided to revisit In Rock. (That said, I can still write a treatise what made the Focke-Wulf 190 A & D the superior aircraft to their Messerschmitt Bf 109 E to K contemporaries!)

    So it’s basically the long time I’ve spent “researching” DP + Family coupled with my inability to ever wipe my biological hard disk that enables me to draw from different sources. Add to that how I’ve always been fascinated by causation. What makes people do what they do?

    Still, I have glaring failures in my research. To this day, I haven’t found out where Rod Evans is. Last I heard, he has turned conservationist and was seen in the deep woods of North America. Needless to say, I have proof.


Add a comment:

Preview no longer available -- once you press Post, that's it. All comments are subject to moderation policy.

||||Unauthorized copying, while sometimes necessary, is never as good as the real thing
© 1993-2024 The Highway Star and contributors
Posts, Calendar and Comments RSS feeds for The Highway Star