White Snake
North Winds

David Coverdale

Way back in the day - 1977 and 1978, to be exact - David Coverdale put his considerable vocal and songwriting efforts into two solo albums. Reissued over 30 year later, White Snake and its follow-up North Winds see hints of the vocalist's stint in Deep Purple (who broke up in 1976) and the band he was to helm to mega-stardom, Whitesnake.

The slide-led "Lady" opens White Snake, a big bluesy number showcasing Coverdale's strong and distinctive pipes, with solid good organ and piano backing. There's an acoustic guitar and spooking synth covering quiet ground on the Bad Company-like "Blindman." and a funky bass and backbeat stomp to "Goldies Place," which sees Coverdale using his low range to great effect. The piano groove on "Time Is One My Side," is a personal favorite with Coverdale's vocal and writing ability put to the test.

It doesn't even sound like Coverdale on the gospel-like "Peace Lovin' Man," supposedly a document of the man's feelings about the final days of Deep Purple. "Sunny Days" moves quickly - a fun and breezy story with lots of slide work (all the lead guitar duties here are handled by Micky Moody). Drummer Simon Phillips adds cowbell funk to "Celebration," the last tune on the original release. This commercial gospel number is a great way to end the proceedings. For reissue, there are two bonus tracks - early versions of "Peace Lovin' Man" and "Sunny Days."

North Winds offers more of a glimpse into the potential of David Coverdale. "Keep On Giving Me Love" is a dirty guitar stomp of a song with a poppy bridge chorus. From there, we are into the Fender Rhodes on the title track, showing an amazing amount of vocal restraint from a guy we tend to think of as a big-haired wailer. "Time and Again" reveals a softer side of Coverdale, with the Rhodes and some synth strings - sounds that date the album, if nothing else. Still, "Time and Again" is a great tune and perhaps the real masterpiece of Coverdale's early years as a solo artist.

"Breakdown" simply kicks ass, with its staccato stops, pumping organ and Moody going for broke, inadvertently creating the template for the Whitesnake sound. "Give Me Some Kindness" sees Ronnie James Dio and his wife Wendy, along with Jon Lord's spouse Judy, adding backing vocals in what would prove to be a better produced and more relaxed track of the lot. On both White Snake and North Winds, which were produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, you can hear Coverdale's confidence building, his days with Deep Purple behind him and worldwide acclaim to come as the leader and focal point of Whitesnake.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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