Thursday, September 9, 2010

HAIR METAL CLASSICS: The Whitesnake Album

  I discovered heavy metal in 1986 thanks to close friend and neighbor, Dave Windsor. Before Dave, I considered MTV a nuisance, the main reason former babysitters ignored me (boy what I wouldn't give for 1986 style MTV know, when they played videos).

  Dave always had music television on.  You couldn't help but be sucked in by the channel's shameless promotion of music with powerful hooks and awesome looking rock women with hair to the ceiling. Regardless of how times and styles have changed, to me, that look remains classic hot.
  I became infatuated with artists like Nikki Sixx, who dressed how I wanted to dress, and performed songs that, without the loud and crunchy guitars, could have appeared on Michael Jackson's Thriller. Since then, pop metal or "hair metal" has had a firm grip on this soul.  However, it's not easy waving the hair metal flag in 2010 when everyone you know makes fun of you only to turn around and sing their hearts out as "Pour Some Sugar On Me" comes on the radio.
  "Hey lemmings!! Def Leppard has released 6 albums since then, and if any of it had came out in 1987, you'd all be singing that too!!" 

  One evening, back in April of 1987, a particular video by a new band' named Whitesnake, caught my attention.  It wasn't the hot redheaded chick that drew me in, although you'd be hard pressed to find a better example of 1980's rock beauty than Tawny Kitaen. And, it definitely wasn't the band's look, as most people assume is the reason for hair metal success.
  It was, quite simply, a great song.
  'Here I Go Again' had hooks and melody, yet didn't sound like anything I had heard prior or anything our parents had listened to. I instantly made a decision. I would ask Mom and Dad to purchase my very first "Hair Metal Classic"...on cassette no less.
  'Whitesnake' was released in the Spring of 1987, when I was in the 6th grade at Douglas Elementary in Garden City, Michigan. By Christmas, I was ravenous to own the album and the parents were all too aware.  Well, Mom was., Dad kinda checked out of the present business after risking life and limb to obtain a He-Man "Castle Greyskull" when they were the must-have toy of a previous holiday season.
  By Christmas, the other videos in the 'Hot chick Trilogy, 'Still Of The Night' and 'Is This Love' were in heavy rotation on MTV, and I simply had to own this Album.

Christmas 1987

  There's no disguising a cassette tape. Unless you try putting it in a different box and really, who the hell, wants to go through that effort...certainly not my parents. But, on Christmas Day, 1987, there it was in all it's "Zeppelin ripoff" glory.
  Yeah, we can all admit it's derivative to Led what, so is a lot of stuff. Remember Kingdom Clone, I mean Kingdom Come ?  I've had several discussions with the founder of this site about the merits of both bands and I'll stack Whitesnakes self-titled genius up against most of Zeppelin's legendary catalog.

  Crying In The Rain: Killer opener and one of two reimaginings on this album. This and 'Here I Go Again' already appeared on the 1982 album 'Saints & Sinners' albeit in a more bluesy form. Great song to lipsync to in front of the mirror. What? boys did that too. I once performed an entire 'Appetite For Destruction' concert in front of my mirror. Mom would have loved 'Rocket Queen'.
  Bad Boys: Only in the late 80's could a grown man get away with howling like a wolf without a hint of irony. But, man, I loved this tune!! Coverdale's voice rocks...whatever positive adjective you want to use, it applies. The Man could scream with the best of them and he may have picked up where Robert Plant left off but Plant didn't sound as good at 60 as Coverdale did and still does.
  Still Of The Night: Their incredible first single which ignited the Led Zeppelin 'Kashmir' comparisons. Zeppelin wished they wrote a song this heavy. It's got every heavy metal cliche in one amazing song. It's qualifies as Epic, clocking in at almost 7 minutes. The guitar solo, including Adrien Vandenberg's violin bow, melts your skull...not sure why Coverdale fired guitarist John Sykes (who later founded Blue Murder) after completion of the album. And of course there's the sleaze which DEFINED 80's metal.

In the shadow of night, I see the full moon rise
Telling me what's in store
My heart start aching, my body start a shaking
An' I can't take no moreeee . .

Subtle, Dave...

  Here I Go Again: THE most recognized track on the album. It introduced Whitesnake to a broader audience with the song itself and it's iconic video. It just goes to show that long after the hair withers away, a good song is a good song and this one still holds up. I could see a modern "artist" having just as big a hit with this song. By the way, that's not an invitation.
  I'm looking at you Kings Of Leon.
  Give Me All Your Love: Typical rock song that I loved then and still do today but it pales in comparison to more well known works like "Still Of The Night" & "Here I Go Again". Just doesn't age well as a classic. '87 me would probably give it a 10 though.
  Is This Love?: In the 80's there was a formula. You hit 'em with the hard rocker to make your fans happy ("Still Of The Night") and then you slow it down with the "Power Ballad" so your fans get laid and they bring the ladies to the concerts too. Band more than likely got laid with these songs just as much if not more. It's right up there with "Home Sweet Home" as a "How To" with creating a song that will soak the panties faster than Thunder Cannon (Thats right, it's a Cedar Point reference. If you've never been there screw you!). Oh yeah...great song too.
  Children Of The Night: Lyrics cliche as all hell, but it worked in 1987. It's a personal favorite, and what gets the fist pumping faster than " Are you ready to rock...Children of the Night?
  Why, yes I am, Dave. Yes I am.
  Straight For The Heart and Don't Turn Away
  Throwaway tracks. Even at 12 years old, I stopped the tape after "Children of The Night". Looking back,  they're not bad songs. Just forgettable.
  When the album was re-released on Deluxe Edition cd in 2010, the songs "Looking For Love" and "You're Gonna Break My Heart Again" were included.  To be fair, the additional songs are actually pretty good and could have easily replaced the final two tracks.
   So, to summarize: Is it a classic?
  Clearly, it is. 'Whitesnake' set the template for what became "Hair Metal" so that Def Leppard could come along and perfect it with their cosmic juggernaut "Hysteria". The mark of a truly great album is if it stands the test of time. Not 'is it a great album for it's time' like Warrant's debut, which admit it, we all loved, but just doesn't hold up in 2010 like Whitesake's self titled masterpiece.
  Still, the last two tracks disappoint so I can't go the full monty. I give it 4 Tawny Kitaens out of 5.
  Join me next time for another installment of Hair Metal Classics.  Until Then...

  "Still there's hope for those who believe, down the Road Of A Thousand Dreams"

-The Casual One
for DRB


  1. loved it Marc! -Linda

  2. Just to make you cringe... here is The Botticellis out of San Francisco doing a "Here I Go Again" cover...

  3. Is it sad that I kind of dug it?