Even though most of us are familiar with the success of Whitesnake during the mid to late 1980’s, the roots of Whitesnake trace back to the late 70’s. Singer David Coverdale had been lead vocalist for Deep Purple since 1973 after answering an ad for auditions searching for a replacement for DP vocalist Ian Gillan. Coverdale had been with a local British band that had supported Deep Purple on tour in the past so all parties knew each other and he got the job. Unfortunately, Deep Purple members Ian Paice and Jon Lord would abruptly end the band in 1976, while at the same time Coverdale handed in a tearful resignation, each side cancelling each other out and leaving Coverdale at square one.
Not to be left idle, Coverdale began a budding solo career and assembled a group of players to back him up known back then as The White Snake Band. Two solo albums would be released; White Snake in 1977 and Northwinds in 1978. Later in ’78 he and his band would unite as one to simply be called Whitesnake, release an EP titled Snakebite, then their first full length album Trouble. The lineup of Whitesnake at this time consisted of Coverdale, guitar duo Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden, Bassist Neil Murray, former Deep Purple bandmate Jon Lord on keyboards, and Dave Dowle on drums.
|Whitesnake 1978. From left: Neil Murray, Bernie Marsden, David Coverdale, Micky Moody, Jon Lord, Dave Dowle|
The playing on Trouble is World Class. Elements of Hard Rock, R & B/Soul, Funk, Latin, and Jazz are fused together incredibly to make, in my humble opinion, a landmark 70’s Rock album. Standout tracks include Take Me With You, Lie Down (A Modern Love Song), Nighthawk (Vampire Blues), Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick (instrumental), Free Flight, and not to be left out is a stellar cover of The Beatles’ Day Tripper. The original, released as a single in 1965, is a great melodic pop rock song with a hooky guitar and classic Beatles vocal harmonies. Coverdale and Co. slow the tempo slightly and add a heap of bellbottom swagger. They kick it off with a syncopated funk drum beat first, then the guitars and bass come in unison with the hook. DC’s vocals are what you’d expect, but its the Talkbox that ices the cake. Pure funk throughout! For a song that’s been covered and sampled all or in part countless times, this version is one of the best. If you have never treated yourself to this era of Whitesnake, I invite you to do so. I myself did not discover it until the 80’s era had long gone. The material on these early albums holds up, with many of the songs still in the band’s live set.
As luck would have it, this line up would not remain intact forever. Drummer Dave Dowle would depart first after another year or two, with the rest dropping off slowly into the next decade with David Coverdale remaining the sole proprietor. The band has had over 35 members since its incarnation. Whitesnake toured through the Summer and Fall of 2013 while also releasing a box set titled Little Box o’ Snakes which contains remastered versions of their first 5 studio albums, 2 live albums and the Snakebite EP. Cheers!!