How is it that Whitesnake haven’t already been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Their early stuff is both hard and classic rock at its best, especially during the period when guitarists Micky Moody, Bernie Marsden and Mel Galley were still firing on all cylinders. Anyway, some forty years have passed by and Whitesnake is amazingly still around. Moreover, I can’t believe frontman David Coverdale is still the face of Whitesnake! But you know what they’re not the same band I once liked back in the early to mid 1980s with their bluesy soulful charm. Whether it’s a symptom of a revolving door of musicians or tweaks in their more polished studio sound, I’ll leave it to the experts to sort that one out.
Yet despite my despondent attitude I’m still always up for an eighties ‘big hair’ trip down memory lane. Even better let’s make it a power ballad trip with one of Whitesnake’s biggest hits Is This Love. Seriously, what is it about power ballads that makes metalheads weak at the knees? Perhaps it’s the fact that underneath the steely exterior of a hardcore fan is a chocolate soft centre that craves affection. Or perhaps in reference to Is This Love hair metal fans remember being completely smitten by Coverdale’s future wife actress Tawny Kitaen in the iconic music video. Whether we want to admit it or not, many of us are tickled pink when it comes to love songs. Even David Coverdale wasn’t opposed to wearing his heart on his sleeve when it came to love and heartache.
After a songwriting jag in the south of France, David Coverdale’s Is This Love was strangely destined to become a Tina Turner song until Whitesnake’s record label convinced Coverfield to keep it for their 1987 self titled album. I think Coverdale was onto something that was a little different when he penned Is This Love. What could have easily turned into a cheesy or embarrassing ode to love with lyrics like ‘I need you by my side/To tell me it’s alright/Cos I don’t think I can take any more’ in fact turned out to be a love song for the ages. There is nothing more brilliant than Coverdale turning in one of rock’s amazing vocal performance. Moreover, lets not forgot guitarist John Sykes whose guitar chords turned a humble piano inspired ballad into a tour de force rock ballad. In short, I love how the song builds slowly, reaches a crescendo and subsides, only to build again once more. But I guess above all else, the wail of Sykes solo is most memorable as one of the best rock slow burns ever.