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WHITESNAKE The Purple Tour (Live)

By Daniel Höhr, European Correspondent
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 @ 1:04 PM

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The Purple Tour
Rhino Records, 2018

For some years now, certain rock icons have made an effort to remind their audiences that they were once members of various DEEP PURPLE line-ups. Vocalist and bassist Glenn Hughes, who was member of DEEP PURPLE Mk. III and IV, has recently toured Australia with a classic DEEP PURPLE program and will continue the tour in April – check out his website for dates. Back in 2016, former DEEP PURPLE guitarist Ritchie Blackmore put together a new RAINBOW line-up and started touring and releasing live CDs and DVDs, which included performances of quite a number of DEEP PURPLE songs – albeit of questionable quality. Singer David Coverdale, frontman of DEEP PURPLE Mk. III and IV, temporarily turned his band WHITESNAKE into a DEEP PURPLE tribute in 2015 when he released The Purple Album containing material from his years with the legendary band.

Frankly, I wasn't particularly impressed with that release, mainly because I didn't think the translation of DEEP PURPLE Mk. III and IV classics into WHITESNAKE's heavier and guitar-driven language actually worked on that album. However, even though The Purple Album ended up pretty much at the bottom of my personal list of David Coverdale's albums ranked from best to worst, I travelled to Utrecht, Netherlands to catch WHITESNAKE – one of my all-time favourite rock bands – live at Tivoli on December 2, 2015 and was actually amazed how well the DEEP PURPLE material worked that night.

On January 19, 2018 WHITESNAKE released a live album recorded on the Purple Tour and right from the noise at the beginning of the first track and Coverdale's signature “Are you ready?” scream you know what you get – WHITESNAKE as they are supposed to be. The opening PURPLE classic “Burn” kicks in with full force and Coverdale's staff wipe away any trace of a doubt. Guitarists Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach, bass player Michael Devin, WHITESNAKE's long-standing on/off-drummer Tommy Aldridge and keyboardist Michele Luppi rock the shit out of the title track of Coverdale's first DEEP PURPLE album, released in 1974. WHITESNAKE shows are basically massive rock parties involving band and audience and the following track, “Bad Boys” gets that very party atmosphere impressively across. You can't help turning up the volume on whatever device you're playing the album. DC and the band sound amazing, the production sound is powerful and extraordinarily clear and the album is incredibly fun to listen to. And what would the WHITESNAKE live experience be without the crowd singing along, aka the WHITESNAKE Choir? Et voilà, the fans don't miss their first cue on “Love Ain't No Stranger”. “The Gypsy”, originally released on DEEP PURPLE's Stormbringer album, comes along with a monster groove. The WHITESNAKE party continues with “Give Me All Your Love Tonight” from the 1987 album before DC, the band and the WHITESNAKE Choir travel back in time to the Bobby Bland cover “Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City”, originally released by WHITESNAKE on their Snakebite EP (1978). This song, however, is best known in the live version on Live...In The Heart Of The City (1980), which also marked the birth of the WHITESNAKE Choir in the goosebump-producing sing-along part of the song. The version on the present live album certainly pays homage to the classic live 1980 recording without even attempting to copy it – without Neil Murray's bass together with the singing crowd it wouldn't work anyway. “Mistreated”, from DEEP PURPLE's Burn, sounds enormously intense and “You Fool No One” in its much more guitar-fuelled WHITESNAKE version goes off like a bloody rocket. The originally quite simplistic track “Soldier Of Fortune” may sound a bit blown up but Joel Hoekstra's acoustic guitar arrangement adds a lot of extra depth to that ballad. Four WHITESNAKE classics, “Is This Love”, “Fool For Your Loving”, “Here I Go Again” and “Still Of The Night” conclude this superb live release in true WHITESNAKE fashion.

The difference between what the DEEP PURPLE classics sound like on the Purple Album and the present live release couldn't be any bigger. Sure, the arrangements and the personnel are the same, but while the studio versions mostly suffer from a cluttered and hence instransparent sound as well as some sort of musical sterility, DC and his band bring the material to live on the present record and all of a sudden the translation of classic PURPLE songs into the sound of WHITESNAKE does not only work but comes across as perfectly natural. In addition to that, the WHITESNAKE tracks on The Purple Tour sound as fresh as ever.

David Coverdale is still an incredible vocalist and his audible charisma makes up for the slight patina on his vocal chords, which he is most certainly entitled to. His band sounds absolutely superb, especially Joel Hoekstra's and Reb Beach's guitar work.

If I had to name WHITESNAKE's best live album, I would be in a real struggle because the decision between Live...In The Heart Of The City and The Purple Tour would be a tough one. The Purple Tour definitely makes up for the deficencies of The Purple Album and if you haven't got the studio album, don't bother. Go and get the live album.

5.0 Out Of 5.0

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