Flesh & Blood
When vocalist David Coverdale embarked upon a solo career following the disillusion of the Deep Purple 'Mark IV' line-up, many wondered what lay ahead for the often charismatic frontman. Fortunately for all parties involved, the Saltburn-On-The-Seas, Yorkshire-born vocalist wasted no time responding, issuing the woefully-underrated David Coverdale's Whitesnake (1976) and Northwinds (1977) with rapid-fire succession. Officially emerging in 1978 with the Snakebite EP and their full-length debut Trouble, the group soon earned a reputation as a bona fide creative and commercial force. While initially far more popular in Asia and Europe, the group would ultimately achieve international success with the release of the John Sykes-fueled Slide It In (1984) and the multi-Platinum-encrusted behemoth best known as 1987. Now, the improbably long-running group has once again returned with a vengeance courtesy of Flesh & Blood, their first all-new studio recordings in eight years. On the stellar Flesh & Blood (2019), an expertly assembled thirteen song collection of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the swaggering, slide guitar-infused “Good To See You Again”, and the delightfully self-explanatory 'throwback' “Hey You (You Make Me Rock)”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Wisely attempting to capitalize on the tidal wave of momentum initiated with the release of The Purple Album (2015), the group drives home each key focal point via a thunderous array of soaring vocals, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms. Scoring major points early and often by offering material that maintains a precarious balance between stylistic variation and key elements their classic tonalities (most notably the high-gloss sheen once personified by Keith Olsen and Mike Clink), the group reminds us of their sparkling, hairspray and mascara-encrusted yore.
Continuing with the relentlessly pummeling--albeit impossibly hook-laden--“Trouble Is Your Middle Name” and the emotionally-overwrought Power Ballad “Heart Of Stone”, the airtight combination of ex-Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale, guitarists Joel Hoekstra (Jeff Scott Soto, Michael Sweet, Night Ranger) and Reb Beach (Dokken, The Mob, Winger), bassist Michael Devin, keyboardist Michael Luppi and drummer Tommy Aldridge (Black Oak Arkansas, Ozzy Osbourne and Yngwie Malmsteen, among others) steamrolls ahead with a well-rehearsed ease. Effortlessly easing into the comfortable, familiar territory without borrowing too heavily from their prototypical past, the group reasserts their once ironclad dominance of the genre. Re-capturing (or perhaps simply continuing) the refined spirit of their post-Restless Heart (1997) era, the group seethes with a pent-up rage that belies both their Blues-based formative years and later-day Glam/Hair Metal/MTV tendencies.
Co-Produced by Beach, Hoekstra & Michael McIntyre with Mixing duties being 'handled' by the acclaimed Christopher Collier (Korn, Lita Ford and Winds Of Plague, to name only a few), other standouts, including the smoldering, acoustic laden “After All”, and the equally impressive closer “Sands Of Time”, offer a staggering wealth of further sonic evidence in support of the sextet's sprawling legacies. Most definitely not for everyone (particularly those without a genuine and sincere interest in re-living the not so recent past), the end results of the group's most recent variation rings refreshingly true. Achieving consistency despite a near-constant array of line-up changes, they deliver the proverbial goods with a passion that has personified much of their storied past. However, what ultimately separates Flesh & Blood--and, as a result, the improbably long-running group itself--from their few legitimate contemporaries is their ceaseless dedication to honing their already razor-esque chops.
But is it really that good? Absolutely. Although it's seemingly unlikely that the group will ever re-capture the chart-topping chemistry of yore (i.e. the previously-mentioned 1987 and the Steve Vai-propelled jewel Slip Of The Tongue, 1989), the majority--if not all--of the decidedly ear-pleasing wares contained herein are seemingly guaranteed to leave even the most hopelessly pessimistic of would-be enthusiasts only wanting for more. Even if the group's once pioneering hybrid of Blues-inflected Hard Rock and Heavy Metal somehow still leaves you less than enthralled, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire their ability to realistically succeed amid a less than hospitable commercial climate. Accordingly, if you've once again found yourself in search of a trip down memory lane that doesn't involve openly embracing a morbidly obese amplitude of spandex-clad Velveeta, then this, my friends, might be the high-octane cure-all for whatever ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
Flesh & Blood (2019)
The Purple Album (2015)
Good To Be Bad (2008)
Restless Heart (1997)
Greatest Hits (1994)
Slip Of The Tongue (1989)
Slide It In (1984)
Saints & Sinners (1982)
Come An' Get In (1981)
Ready An' Willing (1981)
Live...In The Heart Of The City (1980)
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