Whitesnake – The Purple Album
Frontiers Records (May 2015)
Reviewer – Stephen Brophy
There has been an awful lot of chatter about this release for the last couple of months. Yes this is Whitesnake doing an album of Deep Purple songs, the initial idea to work with Jon Lord never came to pass, but as with all albums I take it at face value and what we get here is an enjoyable romp through a specific period of Purple’s history while David Coverdale was at the helm as lead singer.
Honestly I thought the lead off track from this album was poor, and although I like the original version of ‘Stormbringer’, there is something about the reworking on this album that just doesn’t sit well. Personally I feel it just seems to have too many effects on it that distract from the song itself, but that’s not something that should stop you from giving the album a go. After all it’s only one out of thirteen tracks and you may well like it anyway.
So The Purple Album kicks off with the iconic ‘Burn’ which is a track I’ve always loved, having experienced it both on album and live from a number of singers. Coverdale handles it with ease and for me at least there’s always something different and generally better hearing the original singer delivering the song. And of course there are some great tracks on here, how could they not be, they are classics, such as ‘Sail Away’, ‘Holy Man’ and ‘Soldier Of Fortune’. The arrangements are all really good, but for me they haven’t been able to achieve the impossible and make a great flow through the album, it’s such a very hard thing to do with a collection of songs like this, but there are definite high points and the playing throughout is superb, some wonderful guitar work from Joel Hoekstra certainly helps to add a Whitesnake slant to a number of the songs.
There is bound to be some divided opinion about The Purple Album, and after all you can never please all of the people all of the time, but sometimes you just need to put up the volume, sit back and let it blast, take ‘You Fool No One’ for example, it manages to really rock along, retaining touches of classic and modern, with the ability of sounding fresh, there’s nothing wrong with being torn a bit by an album, but you need to give it a fair shake before dismissing it out of hand, something that is all to do in modern times, as I type this the huge grooves of ‘Love Child’ are bouncing around my head.
This is essentially a covers album, but it’s also a reworking, and in places an attempt to modernise some of the originals, and it’s a good job, but for a couple of tracks that don’t quite hit the mark for me. Having said that to hear Coverdale working on some of these classic tracks again is a joy in itself. This of course would have been a hugely more valuable project had the wonderful Jon Lord survived to play on it and I’d like to think he would have really enjoyed it too. Will be interesting to see how these tracks are received in the live arena, for me a lot of these tracks will suit Coverdale’s voice a lot more now, and that could be a very interesting mix with the Whitesnake standards that will be demanded by the fans. This was never going to be the best Whitesnake release, would be amazed were it intended to be, but it’s interesting, well made and contains all of the musical pieces of the puzzle, take a listen through this archive and make your own mind up.