For My Sunday Song #201, we are kicking off the next set of 10 songs with this batch from Whitesnake to celebrate as I am coming to the end of my David Coverdale Review Series which started back last August. To kick it off we are going all the way back to the first release of the band on the album ‘Snakebite’ with the song “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”.
One of the first songs Whitesnake did was actually a cover song. It was a cover of Bobby Bland’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” written by Michael Price and Dan Wise. The song is now a signature Whitesnake classic as they are still known to pull this one out and play it live all thanks to the live version from ‘Live…in the Heart of the City’, but this is about the studio version recorded a few years earlier. Before Whitesnake became this hair metal giant, they were more a rock & soul band that loved the blues. This was a shining example of that passion.
This love song is down and dirty, a blues infused rock song slowed down into a beautiful ballad full of soul. Between Micky Moody’s hook that is filled with sorrow and along with a little funk filled groove from Bernie Marsden’s guitar and Neil Murray’s bass you are treated to what made early Whitesnake so magical. Oh, and the solo…wow! It fit the song so well and pulled out even more emotion if that was even possible. Now, let’s not forget David Coverdale’s vocals as the tone he is able to pull out as he sings is so well suited for some soulful blues. There is just enough character and maturity to grasp the emotional feel of the song and give you everything the song needs.
After David Coverdale finished recording his last solo album, ‘Northwinds’, he found that his touring band was already trying out new songs and ‘Northwinds’ hadn’t even come out yet. The album finally came out in March of 1978, but by this time, David had already figured that his current touring line-up was already a band and needed to record its own album, which it did in March and April of 1978. By June 1978, the band released a four song E.P. titled ‘Snakebite’. It was listed as David Coverdale’s Whitesnake and it was the start of something amazing.
By September 1978, the album was released as an 8 song double E.P.. That is the copy I have and I will be reviewing. If I ever find an original ‘Snakebite’, you can bet your ass I will be grabbing it.
The 8 song double E.P. has the 4 original songs plus it steals 4 tracks from David’s last solo album ‘Northwinds’. It took the 4 best and now we have a pretty smokin’ album.
Since this was now a band, let’s see who was in it at this time.
David Coverdale – vocals
Micky Moody – guitar
Bernie Marsden – guitar
Neil Murray – bass guitar
Dave Dowle – drums
Pete Solley – keyboards
Yes, it is a quite a lethal combo on guitars with Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden. That double guitar work is what makes Whitesnake so incredible. This line-up changes again for the next album, but by only one person and that person makes a huge difference. That is a little teaser on what is to come with the next review.
The insert I have for the vinyl sleeve is still in tact and has the lyrics to all the songs and writing credits. And I think my album might have been a promo or on a cut-out sell as the bottom right corner has a nice slice out of it.
Okay, enough chit chat, let’s get to the heart of the matter…the music.
The first song is “Come On” written by David Coverdale and Bernie Marsden and right away you can hear how big the guitar sound is. The song is a pure rock song with a great groove and a blistering solo. A great opener and I love the fact that David has two Deep Purple references in the song…“Soldier of Fortune” and “Gypsy”.
Then we get into the Coverdale penned “Bloody Mary” which opens with a piano and Pete slamming the keys. Jump up and dance and feel the music. It is pure joy and magic and two songs in and I am already loving every minute of it.
David goes back to his blues roots as he covers Bobby Bland’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” written by Michael Price and Dan Wise. This love song is down and dirty, a blues rock song slowed down into a beautiful ballad. Oh, and the solo…wow! It fit the song so well and pulled out even more emotion. Not even an original, this song is a signature Whitesnake classic as they are still known to pull this one out and play it live.
The last song from the original E.P. is “Steal Away”. The writing credits on this one are for everyone in the band which is nice to see. The opening riff on the slide guitar is nothing short of spectacular. The song is gritty and a dirty and I love the blues rock feel. David’s vocals are spot on and for me this is my highlight on the whole album.
Side two has 4 songs from ‘Northwinds’ as I mentioned earlier. The first one up is “Keep on Giving Me Love”. It has a funkalicious guitar riff by Moody that could have come from Glenn Hughes playbook. “Keep on Giving Me Love” has a great groove and is a rocking opening track and excites me as what is to come. Coverdale’s vocals have an edginess to it and Moody rips through a nice solo.
“Queen of Hearts” is full of pianos and there is a nice bass thump before the song slams into gear and really gets going. A groovy and bluesy song that becomes a banging good time.
“Only My Soul” is a fantastic rock ballad with a great soulful feel to it in the guitars playing. This has Whitesnake all over it. Alan Spenner, on bass, lays down a nice groove with the keyboards playing along with it during the musical interlude before David comes back and brings it home.
The final track is the most rocking song, “Breakdown”. It is pure Whitesnake. Moody & Coverdale hit it out of the park with this one and they rock it out like nothing else. The song is about the downfall of Deep Purple. The 4 songs pulled off ‘Northwinds’ were the most rocking tracks and 3 of the 4 were written by Moody and Coverdale. When he writes with the guitarists, we tend to get the most kick ass tracks.
Come On – Keeper
Bloody Mary – Keeper
Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City – Keeper
Steal Away – Keeper
Keep On Giving Me Love – Keeper
Queen of Hearts – Keeper
Only My Soul – Keeper
Breakdown – Keeper
Track score is easily a 100% with 8 out of 8 tracks being keepers. As far as the albums overall score, I will break it down in to two scores. As a 4 song E.P., this is easily a 5 out of 5 Stars as those 4 songs on Side One are spectacular. What a slamming introduction to the band. Now, as an 8 song double E.P., I will ding it a little as I think only two of the extra 4 songs are Whitesnake contenders and the other two are just good songs, but not necessarily Whitesnake material. For that, I give the version I have a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars which is still pretty freaking great!! This is a an absolute must have for any Whitesnake fan.