Ahhh, all the holiday hustle and bustle is over. Now it’s time to relax, have a nice cold beer and dig into the archives for yet another edition of Classic Albums. This week’s pick is Whitesnake, but not the 1987 self-titled release I know you’d normally expect, since that was by far their most popular. It’s an excellent record and worthy of a write-up here, but some other time. Today we’re getting into 1984’s Slide It In, which is actually what opened the door to the U.S. market for the band before they kicked it in three years later. There are two versions, so for our purposes let’s talk about the U.S. release that I traded away some suck job record to get my hands on. I don’t remember what it was, or who the poor kid was that was on the bad end of this deal, all I know is that I came home on a brisk fall day from school in my freshman year with this gem in my bag.
I had seen a promo video for the leadoff track “Slide It In” and knew I had to have this record. So, wait? This band actually had more of a classic rock feel to it before MTV and Geffen Records dictated their every move? Well. Color me interested. When you hear that riff, you know what I mean, right? And then to follow it with the bluesy sexual heat of “Slow An’ Easy”, David Coverdale wailing like a dog in heat over Cozy Powell’s drums that are seemingly made for a roll in the hay. My God, I was enthralled, and it’s still one of my favorites, as is “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, which I am happy to say they still do live, and very well.
The guitars are front and center for most of this album and the keyboards are pushed way down in the mix, save for the solos. Plus, John Sykes was brought in to record some additional guitar parts to beef up the sound, which would lead to the ill-fated partnership with Coverdale on the next record. However, one song with a killer organ solo is “All Or Nothing” that really sounds like it could have been a 70’s rocker, and was one that 14-year old me kept going back to. I swear, this was a whole new world of Whitesnake for me. This was rock & roll, warts and all. “Gambler” is another one that exudes a longing most of us teenaged boys could relate to and closes out side one in a fit of despair.
Side two opens with by-the-numbers “Guilty of Love” which didn’t stop it from going on a bunch of bike-riding mixtapes though. It’s very meat-and-potatoes. Hell, there’s not one bad thing about it! “Hungry For Love” definitely has that 70’s feel to it, with a blues-based rock riff, and with the organ solos it could have been a Deep Purple song. No surprise there, since the late Jon Lord played on this record before reuniting with his former band just ahead of the album’s release. A great bridge between the two eras of Whitesnake comes in the form of “Give Me More Time” and “Spit It Out”, both songs hinting at the band’s arena readiness, yet retaining the working-class feel of previous albums like Saints & Sinners and Come An’ Get It.
Another tune I instantly fell for was album closer “Standing In the Shadow”. This was a bit more slick and polished than the rest of the record, but the hook was tailor made for me, and it certainly got the old Walkman Workout, especially late at night when I didn’t wanna wake my poor mother who pretty much hated any and all of this music! Truth be told, the sound and feel of Slide It In is worlds apart from 1987’s megahit album, and it is for this reason, this organic feel, that it remains my go-to Whitesnake record when I’m feelin’ that way. Actually what usually happens is I go on a four or five album bender, but this is the one that ALWAYS starts the party for me. If all you know is “Here I Go Again” or “Still of the Night” then you don’t know shit about Whitesnake, and I suggest you look into the older stuff PRONTO. ~dc