By Simon Saradzhyan
The Moscow Tribune
Oh, you older Eves of Moscow, weep and tremble!
Whitesnake is sleuthing into this autumn town to lure you and the local Adams into partaking of their evergreen and eternally tempting tree of soft rock knowledge.
Yes, girls, no one but David Coverdale himself will dawn on you at Luzhniki’s Malaya Sportivnaya Arena on Saturday and Sunday nights, courtesy of Rusintershow.
You may not know it, but this ageless master of tear-jerking ballads iscurently roaming the world in what Whitesnake promoters claim to be his band’s Final Tour.
We at [i]The Tribune[i] believe this claim as much as Ozzy Osbourne fans showing up for his yet another farewell world tour. But wouldn’t it just be a perfect example of Murphy’s Law if it really were the Whitesnake’s last tour and you never got to see David Coverdale strut his stuff on a Moscow stage for the very first or very last time?
I just don’t understand how teenagers today can avoid succumbing to the vocal verve of this self-described “rock’n’roll preacher, not a Sunday school teacher” who lured so many female souls to the kingdom of Whitesnake back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I, myself, have never left this land of heavy rattle and utter sadness ever since I heard Deep Purple’s third line-up.
This Goliath of British hard rock recruited young David in a rather painstaking way after kicking rather painstaking way after kicking out the rebellious Ian Gillan in 1973. The already extremely popular band placed an anonymous classified advert in British press, welcoming demos from hard-rock oriented singers.
Most of the demos drove Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore to tears because of the attempts to imitate Gillan’s trademark screams. Only one audio bid stood out from the rest— a recording of drunken moaning periodically interrupted by swift sonic ascents to dizzy-making heights.
Ritchie and the gang hie and the gang invited the owner of the voice for auditioning, which lasted more than four hours. A wide-eyed David, who couldn’t believe he was singing for his idols, more than proved his vocal guts making Deep Purple veterans forget about his lack of stage experience and facial skin problems. The latter were swiftly taken care of with help of intense medication, which when prescribed jointly with alcohol intoxication, transformed “the ugly duckling into a rock prince of sorts,” as the BBC Russian service’s rock herald Seva Novgorodtsev once put it.
After the fateful auditioning, only a few months passed before the new album, “Burn,” hit music stores, starting a new era in Deep Purple’s hard rock quest. Much to the chagrin of female fans, the new singer’s sex appeal was obscured by the album cover, which pictured the faces of the new line-up as blurry burning candles.
They did appreciate, however, all pros and cons of the dual between Coverdale and bassist-vocalist Glenn Hughes both in the powerful speed-chasing opener [i]Blenn Hughes both in the powerful speed-chasing opener [i]Burn[i] and bluesy [i]Might Just Take Your Life[i]. The vocal stand-off between our hero and funk-crazed Hughes became even more audible with Deep Purple Mark III’s next album, which featured the lyrical revelations of [i]Soldier of Fortune[i] and [i]Holy Man[i].
Apart from these slow tracks, the songs remained the same, much to the die-hard joy of conservative fans back in the good old hippy year of 1974.
Dubbed “Stormbringer,” this gold LP did in fact bring a storm into the relations between Blackmore and the rest of the band. Soon enough, the moody guitar wizard was replaced with American jazz guitarist Tommie Bolen. Surprisingly enough, Bolen, a currently deceased, formerly cheerful, then-cheerful heroin addict, decided to join the vocal battle between Coverdale and Hughes, which turned ugly in Mark III’s eclectic bunch of swan songs released in 1975, dubbed the “Come Taste The Band” album.
Having tasted enough of domination from Deomination by Deep Purple’s founding fathers, Coverdale finally went solo with his first album called (what else) “Whitesnake.”
One year after this 1977 release, Coverdale founded Whitesnake the band, which played less sophisticated tunes than Deep Purple but sounded tempting enough to draw keyboard player Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice.
These two ex-Deep Purplers joined their ambitious colleague in 1980. Unfortunately, this re-union didn’t last long enough to see the band achieve the peak of its commercial succesl success in 1987 with “1987.”
In this album, the ninth of a total of 11, David finally found what dazzling sale his high-pitched vocals could produce if juxtaposed against the literally singing guitar of John Sykes. This binary weapon exploded right during the heat of British soft metal invasion, into ears of teenage girls across the world. Indeed, what could the son of a steel smelter do better than melt down the hearts of young women?
Unfortunately, Sykes left in yet another band reshuffle, but Coverdale continued his battle for our ears with the help of another wonderboy of modern guitar playing—Steve Vai.
“Why Vai?” one might have asked after hearing the “Slip of the Tongue” that came out in 1989.
Welelel Well, because only the world’s fastest and most creative guitar surfers can keep up with the great tidalwave of Coverdale’s voice. And that’s why uninventive Vai was dumped when Coverdale disbanded Whitesnake to team up with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.
The two, however, did not engender any lasting chemistry, although the slow tracks of “Coverdale/Page” did enter my Rock Ballads Hall of Fame. Coverdale himself has denied his Whitesnake works have even fallen under Led Zeppelin’s influence, but the latteer can be traced in “Judgment Day” from “Slip of the Tongue” which reminds some somewhat of Robert Plant’s [i]Cashmere[i].
Having called it quits with Page, Coverdale reconvened his Whitesnake to record yet another sad, but soul-gripping self-exploration dubbed “Restless Heart.”
I know, folks, it is a bit old-fashioned to try dig the depths of soft metal, but trust me, there is nothing like seeing and hearing a live reptile coil up. So I’ll see you girls and others suckers for a sad white soul at Luzhniki on Saturday and Sunday night.
By Simon Saradzhyan