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Company Of Snakes Burst The Bubble

By Daniel Höhr, European Correspondent
Wednesday, January 23, 2002 @ 10:54 AM


(SPV)

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Whitesnake's 1982 album Saints & Sinners marked the end of the classic Whitesnake line-up with Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody on guitars, Neil Murray on bass, John Lord on keys, Ian Paice on drums and, of course, David Coverdale on vocals. While the European release of the next album, Slide It In (1984), still sounded like the old Whitesnake, the American version of the album (recorded with a different line-up) was taylor-made for U.S. stations and consequently David went for big hair and big success in the States. The rest is history. It remains to note that, without stereotyping, the American conception of Whitesnake is completely different from the European. Whitesnake had been big over here long before "Is This Love" and "Here I Go Again" (the latter in a dreadful radio-mix, of course, and not in the bluesy original version on Saints & Sinners). Nothing against David's co-operation with John Sykes, Adrian Vandenberg and Steve Vai, but these Whitesnake line-ups were far from what Whitesnake really meant in the olden days. Musically, classic Whitesnake albums such as Trouble, Love Hunter, Ready An' Willing, and Come An' Get It can be best described as down-to-earth blues hard rock fueled by a good dash of testosterone.

Now, Some years ago the original Whitesnake guitarists and chief songwriters Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody together with bass legend Neil Murray teamed up with former Rainbow, Ozzy and Whitesnake keyboardist Don Airey, former Mafred Mann's Earth Band and Roger Chapman drummer John Lingwood as well as with changing singers to have a good time with timeless Whitesnake classics. Eventually Swedish singer Stefan Berggren was recruited and The Company Of Snakes toured extensively in Europe to show that Whitesnake potboilers such as "Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues, "Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City, and "Don't Break My Heart Again" still go down extremely well. The result can be heard on the last year's live album Here They Go Again.

Burst The Bubble is the Snakes' first studio album with original material. The cover artwork, by the way, recalls that of Love Hunter (1979), especially the chick with the big, round boiler and, of course, the good old snake, so no experiments on that side. After a short western guitar intro, the album starts off where Saints & Sinners breaks off. Stoming hard rock with a good dose of blues, boogie and traditional rock and, wow, what a voice! Stefan Berggren's vocals come as close to Coverdale as you can possibly get, but nowhere on the album you get the impression that he's actually copying him. Bernie Marsden and Micky Moddy demonstrate once again that they not only belong to the best rock guitarists, but that they are also great songwriters. "Labour Of Love" is a rocker in the best Whitesnake tradition and so is "Ride, Ride, Ride / Run, Run, Run" with Moody's great slide guitar parts. The title track, "Burst The Bubble, is a bit different. The song's message is that George Orwell's predictions in 1984 have basically become reality, you know, the Big Brother is watching thing, so the combination of eighties pop elements with Moody and Marsden's characteristic riffing is simply ingenious. "Little Miss Happiness" is a "Wine, Woman An' Song" (Come An' Get It, 1981) type of track with rock 'n' roll guitars, a plinky-plonky out-of-tune hoky-tonk piano, whiskey and cigar smoke. "Kinda Wish You Were" has a great piano and Hammond solo on it, while "Days To Remember" is full of rock 'n' roll nostalgia. "Back To The Blues" doesn't need any comment but can be seen as the motto of the album.

All in all you get 13 tracks in the classic Whitesnake style (plus intro and outro), which might be a little bit too much, so one or two songs less would be fine as well. Of course, Burst The Bubble features nothing new, but 12-bar blues rock is simply timeless and so the present COS album is extremely good fun - unpretentious, down-to earth and exactly the sort of I wish David Coverdale were doing.

****1/2


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