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It is what it is

whitesnake lovehunter album cover

Rolling Stone magazine is on a family tree streak with an in-depth profile of Neil Murray for their Unknown Legends series.

Was the cover of Lovehunter created to cause controversy? It’s pretty out there.
I guess to an extent. But it was really more of a management idea than anything to do with the band. I think out of anybody, I was the least in favor of it. It was kind of a bit too heavy metal and not representative of the music of the band, in my opinion. It’s a popular image for merchandise and stuff, but it’s rather adolescent, let’s put it like that.

In a way, it’s better than the next album, Ready an’ Willing, where they just took a bunch of photos from the back of the Trouble album, made them into silhouettes, and stuck a picture of Bernie in there from somewhere. I thought that was real cheap. No spirit at all.

There was another idea that came before that. I’m not sure if I saw it, but it was chucked out by David, I think. It was a kind of stopgap thing, anyway.

More to the point, the band and David’s lyrics and how he was onstage were getting criticized a lot. The rock press was very much post-punk, “let’s not be demeaning to women” kind of thing. David almost took that as a red rag to a bull. “OK, I’m going to do it even more because this is not to be taken seriously. This is how we are. Deal with it.”

Read more in the Rolling Stone. Seriously, go and read the whole thing. Yes, it is long. But that’s what makes it good — lots of great insight into the bands and people he’s been working with over the years.

30 Comments to “It is what it is”:

  1. 1
    Yvonne says:

    Neil Murray is one of the nicest musicians I’ve ever met. Definitely a ladies’ man. 😉 And so tall that you get a stiff neck when you talk to him. Whitesnake gigs with the three M’s (Marsden, Moody, Murray) were a real treat.

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    A brilliant, insightful and honest interview by a vastly underrated musician. Recommended reading.

  3. 3
    Paulo Glover says:

    Still on topic, but a little bit off.
    It’s just me or the snake tongue is something that looks like a penis? 🙂
    Not the long snake-tongue, but the part that is inside its mouth.
    I think it is because we have another well-known example of this (Come and get it).

  4. 4
    DeeperPurps says:

    Saw Neil Murray with Tony Iommi, Cozy Powell and Tony “The Cat” Martin during Black Sabbath’s Tyr tour in Innsbruck, Austria in October 1990. A great show and Murray’s playing was excellent. That particular Sabbath line-up, album and tour were vastly under-rated in my opinion.

  5. 5
    MacGregor says:

    A good interview with Neil Murray. I always felt for him when he was in Sabbath as he was out on a limb, so to speak. As he says, trying or ‘expected’ to nail down an impossible job in replicating Geezer Butler’s style & sound. A tough task indeed, still he gave it a good shot & as he also says, his bass sound was mixed down far too low on those albums. I wonder how his rig sounded in a live concert? Cheers.

  6. 6
    MacGregor says:

    DeeperPurps @ 4 – I was trying to remember who it was that said they had witnessed that lineup of Sabbath. How was Murray’s sound at the concert, hopefully heavy enough to plunder the masses? Cheers.

  7. 7
    MacGregor says:

    @ 4 -plunder is not the correct word to use? Hmmm, any way to blast into submission. That sounds better. Cheers

  8. 8
    DeeperPurps says:

    Hi MacGregor @ 6 & 7, I recall the combined sound of Murray’s bass and Cozy’s drums as being absolutely thunderous, especially on a song called the Sabbath Stones. I was up quite close, about 15 feet back from the stage, in between where Murray was on the left and Martin was at the centre. I remember feeling the vibration of the bass pulsating through me. The playing between Powell and Murray was very tight and the overall mix with the guitar & vocals was good. Tony Iommi was naturally charismatic, and Martin did a great job on vocals. I recall they played several classic Sabbath tunes from both Ozzy’s and Dio’s time, some from their new album Tyr, as well as the title track of Headless Cross. A great concert, one of the better ones I have attended.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I saw that line up too, Murray sounded like he always did when he played with Cozy, i.e. not as playfully nimble as with Dowle or Paice, but audibility wasn’t an issue. He didn’t sound like Geezer, but then no one does. Geezer’s sound is all his own, but also a nightmare for any monitor mix.

    Paulo@3: I think you’re reading sexual connotations into that innocent cover that simply aren’t there. It depicts a female herpetologist with her pet. As someone who keeps iguanas, monitor lizards, skinks und gekkos, I can assure you that cross-class sexual interaction between mammals and reptiles is vastly overrated and not to be recommended.

    I always thought that the hand of that woman looked weird, like that of an old witch, as if the snake was a fountain of youth for her. The painting of the snake is fine though there is no such thing as a snake species with a frilled neck (or horns). The artist created a frilled lizard-horned chameleon-fantasy serpent, he was probably doing drugs.

    Incidentally, have the snake and/or the woman sued the Whitesnake members yet? Nevermind, I hear it’s all the rage these days.

  10. 10
    sidroman says:

    Saw Neil with Sabbath on the Forbidden Tour in 95. Him and Cozy were awesome, Geoff Nicholls, Sabbath’s keyboard player was also given a space on the stage for that show rather than offstage. Sadly, Tony Martin as a singer was average at best, he sounds better on the studio albums.

  11. 11
    MacGregor says:

    DeeperPurps @ 8 – sounds like a very good concert, your lucky to have witnessed that era of Sabbath, we never had a chance out here in Australia. I always enjoyed the Tyr album & played it a lot during the 90’s along with Headless Cross & Cross Purposes. The Battle of Tyr, Odin’s Court & Valhalla, The Sabbath Stones & a few others are great tracks. The rhythm section of Murray & Powell would have been monolithic indeed live in concert! Thanks for the concert review. Cheers.

  12. 12
    MacGregor says:

    Talking of Tony Martin era Sabbath, I forgot to mention Eternal Idol, a wonderful album! The Shining, Ancient Warrior, the title track, Nightmare, that wonderful little acoustic instrumental Scarlet Pimpernel, Lost Forever & a few other tracks also. That little acoustic instrumental reminds me of an old folk tune or something from centuries gone by. I heard decades later the original Ray Gillen vocal tracks online somewhere. I do prefer Tony Martin, but that could also be because of what we have known for so long from the original album. Cheers.

  13. 13
    Ivica says:

    Great musician. Best in the best Whitesnake song of all time(by me) “Fool For You Loving” (1980). Incredible bass line, one of the best in hard rock. Also in the second WS classic “Don’t Break My Heart Again” Neil line is dominant .Exciting bass line in “Take Me With You” Live In The Heart Of The City.

  14. 14
    MacGregor says:

    @ 10 – agree regarding Martins vocals. He was losing it on the Cross Purposes tour. When I purchased Forbidden that appalling album cover should have been a warning not too. Martins vocals were terrible on that album, really strained, so I can only imagine what he would have been like singing in a live setting! He pushed himself too hard during the Headless Cross & Tyr era. He sounds really hoarse during the mid 90’s, unless he was dealing with a throat medical issue or something. Cheers.

  15. 15
    sidroman says:

    I think the big problem with Tony Martin was the shoes he had to fill. Ozzy, Dio, Ian Gillan, even Glenn Hughes have an image or persona. Tony Martin doesn’t have one. Tony Iommi said in his book that at certain shows Martin would stage dive into the audience, which greatly annoyed Iommi. In recent years, I bought the deluxe version of Eternal Idol, which has a second disc of the original album recorded with Ray Gillen, and I admit I prefer Gillen’s vocals to Tony Martin’s.

  16. 16
    Georgivs says:


    Yes, that probably was the issue that Sabbath heritage with Ozzy and Ronnie et al. turned into baggage that was dragging Tony Martin down. It was dragging down even Iommi himself. Record companies thought that they would sell more records under the Sabbath moniker, but in the fact, most likely the opposite would have been true. Had Iommi called that lineup ‘Dark Monday’ or something and presented it as a brand new band with a young hotshot singer, it could have been a different story altogether.

    I would disagree, though, that Tony does not have an artistic persona. His musicianship is his persona and fans know that. They value singers for more than just dead bats and devil horns. And in terms of vocal skills, Tony is very good. I think the ‘Idol’ and ‘Cross’ are great albums. ‘Tyr’ is a bit boring, though.

  17. 17
    Dr. Bob says:

    #3. I am a professional herpetologist (the study of amphibians and reptiles). While the image of the snake is being used as a phallic metaphore and seveal aspects of its anatomy (horns, frills, etc.) are artistic choices that are not representative of real snakes, the structure in the mouth depicts the actual anatomy of snakes. The opening to the windpipe of snakes is at the end of a tube that lies on top of the tongue. It allows them to breath during the slow process of swallowing their prey whole.

  18. 18
    MacGregor says:

    @ 15 – Tony Martin stage diving, that is definitely not Sabbath at all. I used to own the Cross Purposes VHS live concert back in the 90’s, enjoyed a lot of that performance, however Martin did look out of place somewhat on stage. Like he wasn’t sure what to do when not singing. I have noticed that also on other live performances. He did have a hard act or three to follow whilst trying to be himself, a difficult position to be in! Still can’t believe the stage diving though, I mean I believe it, it is just that I have never heard that before & it leaves me thinking, well what I just previously stated regarding on stage presence or lack of it. Cheers.

  19. 19
    MacGregor says:

    That Whitesnake cover is still not nearly as erotically visual as Uriah Heep’s Demons & Wizards cover. Cheers.

  20. 20
    Buttockss says:

    will be cancel cultured soon enough.

  21. 21
    Uwe Hornung says:

    MacGregor, most disturbing @19: Huh? What was “erotically visual” about the Demons & Wizards cover


    unless (which in the forlorn solitude of the Scottish Highlands is definitely a possibility) “bearded male seers in animal fur and with butterfly wings” are your thing? Tell me, what did escape me with that cover in my wasted adolescence while I was transfixed by Suzi Quatro and The Runaways posters? I just want to fit in with the crowd!

    The mind boggles.

  22. 22
    sidroman says:

    @ 18 I saw them on the Cross Purposes tour also. At the time, I was thrilled just to be seeing one of my favorite bands. But Cross Purposes and Cross Purposes Live I can’t listen to. Again IMHO, the weak link is Tony Martin, the band of Iommi, Butler, Rondinelli, and Nicholls is great, but Tony Martin just doesn’t cut it live. My favorite Martin album is Tyr, I like the Norse mythology and the power ballad Feels Good to Me, the only bad track to me is Heaven in Black, it sounds out of place on the album, like a leftover from Headless Cross.

  23. 23
    MacGregor says:

    Uwe @ 21 – Left side middle to top. I had that pointed out to me a long time ago, From my older cousin who’s record collection ‘corrupted’ my innocent youth. I have never been the same since, still innocent though! He, he, he! Male & female genitalia image, allegedly. Cheers.

  24. 24
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Genitalia@23: Oh my, I see it now, my eyes … It must be my sheltered upbringing. I never saw the fellatio depiction in ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery image either.


    You’re all …


  25. 25
    MacGregor says:

    @ 24 – well there is a surprise, I have never noticed that before with that ELP album cover. Just reading about it, they had to tone it down for obvious reasons on other releases etc. The things we learn about each day. I have never owned a copy of BSS, only Trilogy, Tarkus & Pictures at an Exhibition. Have always liked that imagery & certain songs on that album though & we all remember Alien the movie. Cheers.

  26. 26
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Thinking about it, I always found that Alien monster kind of obsessive with its “reverse fellatio” antics. It probably had a lisp too.


    Or maybe the poor thing just couldn’t help it and only its artistic creator, Herr Giger, was orally fixated.

  27. 27
    MacGregor says:

    I had forgotten about that, yes indeed it is a hideous creature indeed. Not the sort of friend you would want coming around for dinner. I wonder if Giger came up with that idea first or was he influenced from a previous artist. I will dig around a little online. Cheers.

  28. 28
    MacGregor says:

    H.P. Lovecraft, enough said, classic. ‘That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.’ Cheers.

  29. 29
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Between Alien und Predator, I lean towards the latter. The Alien monster was initially kind of insect dumb and all instinct (it became more motherly and vertebrae’ish as the franchise progressed), but the Predator guys had immaculate cool from day one!

  30. 30
    MacGregor says:

    The thing I liked about the original Alien creature was that is was a creature, not ‘human’ like, meaning not upright with 2 arms, 2 legs & a head, no resemblance to a human form. Different I suppose & realistic to a degree, as you would know the natural world does have it’s dark side in certain designs. I suppose because it was the first real despicable beast to show that nasty horrific out of this world look & behaviour, if you know what I mean. Cheers.

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