A couple months after releasing ‘Lovehunter’ in October 1979, the band was back in the studio by December to start recording the follow-up, ‘Ready an’ Willing’. The band finished up recording in February under the hand of returning producer Martin Birch who has handled all the Snake albums up to this point.
By the time they were back in the studio, drummer Duck Dowle was out and former David Coverdale and Jon Lord bandmate, Ian Paice, was in the band. That now made 1/2 of the band as former Deep Purple members. And if I am not mistaken, the press played that up which didn’t quite sit well with a couple of the band members.
The album cover for this one was a much more toned-down cover after the controversy the band received for the naked woman straddling a snake (side note: one of my favorites). This was a simple black & white drawing of the band with the Whitesnake logo. Nothing fancy and quite bland. Now, that wasn’t the only controversy the band had. Their lyrics were blasted as well for their whole “cock rock” style and womanizing. And I am not sure this album would not help them in that matter. Oh well.
The inner album sleeve gave us the songs from each side along with the lyrics. It also included who had each solo on the songs which I love that fact. There was no winding snake from one side to the other, instead we get pictures of the band with Coverdale, Lord and Murray on the front and Marsden, Moody and Paice on the back.
The album was the first one to see any real success for the band. They reached #6 in the UK and actually finally charted in the US at #90 thanks in part to the first single which we will discuss shortly. The band was finally starting to break outside the UK which is what they wanted, but it would still be a few more years before they became one of the top acts in the world.
The band’s first single and first hit outside the UK was the song “Fool For Your Loving”. Yes, Whitesnake fans that came on board in the late 80’s know this song from the album ‘Slip of the Tongue’. However, this was the original and first release of the song which went to #13 in the UK and #53 in the US. The song was written by Marsden (who had the riffs and the verses), Moody (who wrote the bridge) and Coverdale (who did the lyrics). The funny thing about the song is that it was originally written for BB King, however, they soon realized the song was too good to pass up…and they were right.
This version of the song is more bluesy and has a nice groove and not as rocking as the hair metal version, but that is okay. You have Bernie belting out a great solo that is so different than Vai’s version. Since I grew up with the ‘Slip of the Tongue’ version, this version feels like a demo to me and I am actually turn to which one I like more. This fits the sound of the band at this point in their career and the other fits that version of the band. Tough choice…I will let you decide.
The next track is “Sweet Talker” which was only released in the US as a single, but didn’t really do anything. This is another song with rather suggestive lyrics and would not stop the controversy on their womanizing lyrics. As a teenager, this would have been great. it is a fun rocking track and it has Jon Lord delivering something he does best…massive keyboard solos. And I don’t want to leave out the great slide guitar work of Micky Moody, always love his slide guitar. This to me is a classic sounding Whitesnake song and one of my favorites on the album…one of many.
The title track, “Ready an’ Willing”, has such a driving groove to it. The blues feel in David’s vocals and lyrics and the sonics of the song, make it a memorable song and why it was released as the 2nd single. Moody handled the solo which was short and perfect for the song. Although the single didn’t do that well, it is still a beast of a track on the album.
Then we get to “Carry the Load” and I have to say I am not real thrilled with this one. Too generic and falls very flat for me. This song feels more like one of David’s solo songs and could have been on ‘Northwinds’. It feels out of place here.
Another favorite on the album is the song ‘Blindman’ which is a re-work of the song from David’s first solo album called ‘Whitesnake’. In what could be David’s best performance to date as he brings so much more emotion and pain in his delivery, this song is the gem in a album full of them. It has a slow groove and is another blues track which has the band at its best. Bernie’s understated solo was what the song needed. It fit perfectly with the vibe. The song was great on the solo album, but taken to another level here.
First up on Side Two is “Ain’t’ Gonna Cry No More” has David singing along to the acoustic guitar before Jon Lord comes in with some soft sounding keyboards in what is starting out as a beautiful ballad. That is until Ian Paice brings it up a notch with his drums and it turns in to pure rock & roll beast with the help of Micky Moody on the solo. The album is quickly becoming my favorite of the Whitesnake albums so far with songs like this.
“Love Man” is a more traditional blues song with a foot stomping beat and some gritty slide guitar. It was what I know and love as blues. Lyrically, it is pure and utter cheese and David delivers it as such, however, I kinda like it. It grabs you and pulls you in whether you want to or not.
“Black and Blue” feels like you are at a honky tonk with the whole live, bar-band feel to it including some piano playing by Jon Lord. Adding the cheering bar crowd to the mix made it feel right at home in the bar. It is a fun, good time track.
And the album ends with “She’s a Woman”, which opens with Lord on the keyboards and then gets turned up a notch when the drums and guitar riffs kick in. Now the highlight is that Jon Lord turns in the best solo of the album. He goes to town and takes you on a magical keyboard journey. Although not the best song on the album, it highlights Lord and that is good enough for me.
- Fool For Your Loving – Keeper
- Sweet Talker – Keeper
- Ready an’ Willing – Keeper
- Carry Your Load – Delete
- Blindman – Keeper
- Ain’t Gonna Cry No More – Keeper
- Love Man – Keeper
- Black and Blue – Keeper
- She’s a Woman – Keeper
The track is a wonderful 8 out of 9 tracks are keepers or 89%. The songs are the strongest yet of the Whitesnake albums so far. There are some Essential Whitesnake songs on here, more so than the others and this album gets better with every listen. The album was missing some dual guitar solos with Marsden and Moody which I think adds to the songs. The album was also lacking a Bernie Marsden lead vocal song…okay, it really isn’t missing that I guess. Overall, this is a killer album and I will rate it a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars. As much as I love it, there are some I like better but this is near the top.
Up next…Whitesnake – ‘Live…in the Heart of the City’.
The David Coverdale Series:
- Deep Purple – Burn
- Deep Purple – Stormbringer
- Deep Purple – Come Taste the Band
- Deep Purple – Made in Europe
- David Coverdale – Whitesnake
- Deep Purple – Last Concert in Japan
- David Coverdale – Northwinds
- David Coverdale’s Whitesnake – Snakebite
- Whitesnake – Trouble
- Whitesnake – Lovehunter
- Whitesnake – Ready an’ Willing
Other David Coverdale Albums reviewed – (Box Sets and Bootlegs):
- Whitesnake – 1987 (30th Anniversary Edition) – Box Set
- Whitesnake – Slide It In (35th Anniversary Edition) – Box Set
- Whitesnake – Unzipped – Box Set
- Whitesnake (Snake) – Still of the Night Live in Battle Creek, Mich. July 26, 1987 (Bootleg)