By Bob Nalbandian

Good To Be Bad

This latest Whitesnake CD was released back in April of 2008 but seeing that I haven't posted CD reviews since then I feel this is worthy enough to include on the year-end reviews. Like Heep, it's been several years since Whitesnake released a studio CD, notwithstanding Coverdale's previous solo CD. On Good To Be Bad Coverdale showcases a brilliant new lineup that's actually been performing live for several years (interchanging with bassist Marco Mendoza and drummer Tommy Aldridge) but it's a new band as far as studio recordings go. The disc features twin guitar masters Doug Aldrich (ex-Lion/Hurricane/DIO) and Reb Beach (ex-Winger/Dokken), Uriah Duffy on bass, Timothy Drury on keyboards and Chris Fazier on drums. For starters, Coverdale's vocals could be summed up in one word: "Shot." Coverdale makes an extra effort on this CD to hide, or rather, control his vocal range. He can no longer successfully hit those high notes nor can he convey the deep, husky soulfulness that he once was able to master back in the day. With that said, he still sounds better than 90 percent of the rock vocalists currently charting Billboard today. "Best Years" opens the CD in fine form, displaying a cool modernized Aldrich riff and motivational lyrics from Coverdale. And speaking of lyrics, I should point out here that only three songs on the CD has the word "love" in it, which could very-well be a sign that David is finally starting to grow out of that sappy, cheesy love-mode he's capitalized on over the past 30 years. But don't count on that just yet. The following track "Can You Hear the Wind Blow" is perhaps the strongest cut on the disc displaying the traditional Euro-classiness of early Whitesnake with a beefed up Aldrich riff. Doug has always been one of my favorite axe-shredders since the days I used to check out his old band Lion at the LA clubs. He always had this incredibly rich guitar tone and churned out stellar riffs and masterful guitar leads. "Call On Me" follows in similar fashion, great guitar riff and solid vocals from Coverdale. But before you get your hopes up on comes the sappy love ballads! "All I Want All I Need" sounds like Michael Bolton meets Foreigner. The title track thankfully picks up the pace but shows nothing spectacular yet it does include a cheesy vocal rip-off to "Slow And Easy'.... yes we get it David, you're bad to the bone. Many of the tracks come off sounding reminiscent to early Whitesnake but the traditional bluesy-ness is somehow lost. The other tracks consist primarily of ballads and typical hard rock anthems. The only true stand out here would be "Lay Down Your Love" which exhibits somewhat of that "Still Of The Night" swagger showing again that Coverdale heavily relies on bankrolling off his past success. "A Fool In Love" follows in similar fashion and has a cool groove. Nonetheless both are pretty solid rock tunes with catchy vocal harmonies and striking guitar riffs. The guitar-solo interplay between Aldrich and Beach is quite impressive throughout the disc but unfortunately doesn't make up for the mediocrity of the songwriting. "Got What You Need" is another favorite of mine again reminiscing of early Trouble-era Whitenake featuring some great slide-guitar work (it's a Mean Business all over again!) and an incredible solo. The closing track is an interesting acoustic number that reeks of early Zeppelin. Coverdale does shine on this track although I felt it should have been sequenced earlier in the CD. Bottom line, if you're a fan of classic Whitesnake you'll probably get off on this CD. But if you are new to the band and want to hear old classics, I recommend you pick up the Whitesnake 30th Anniversary Collection, a 3-disc box set recently released by EMI UK that includes many of the old Whitesnake classics as well as a few live cuts, a couple Coverdale-Page tracks as well as a few of his solo tracks (i.e. David Coverdale & Whitesnake). But as far as Good To Be Bad, like I said, it's good and definitely has its moments, but far from the greatness you would expect from a rock legend.

Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 16 Page 7