CD/DVD Review: Whitesnake – Live in '84 – Back to the Bone

CD/DVD Review: Whitesnake – Live in '84 – Back to the Bone
Frontiers Music Srl
All Access Rating: A-

Whitesnake - Live in '84: Back to the Bone
Slide It In had everyone hot and bothered in 1984. The first Whitesnake album to chart in the U.S., it eventually went multi-platinum, oozing sex and sweaty machismo from every pore. Even at the ripe old age of 30, it's still a hit with the ladies, or at least it thinks so.

Not everyone was onboard, however, with Whitesnake's transition from gritty blues-rock drifters to glitzy pop-metal sleaze merchants, Slide It In having almost completed the transformation. Original guitarist Micky Moody wanted no part of it, so David Coverdale hired John Sykes from Thin Lizzy, adding to the myriad personnel changes that had already taken place earlier.

From their armchairs, the critics howled, slagging their increasingly glossy, commercial sound and wagging their fingers over what raunchy, immature little boys they'd become, what with their leering sexual innuendo and double-entendres. David Coverdale paid them little mind. Going out on a world tour in support of Slide It In, with a restructured lineup consisting of Sykes, drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Neil Murray, Coverdale wanted to bring audiences to orgasm, dazzling crowds with explosive melodies as big as their hair, ostentatious stage shows and flashy, vigorous musicianship, as they do on Live in '84 – Back to the Bone.

Revisiting a time when Whitesnake was on the cusp, gathering momentum and setting the stage for an even bigger breakthrough to come, this raucous assortment of live audio and visual recordings from Coverdale's private collection, out via Frontiers Music Srl, documents the rip-roaring, untamed manner with which the foursome plied their trade that year. Starting with a blustery march through "Gambler" – the sound somewhat muffled – and "Guilty of Love" and that song's sparkling guitar harmonies, Live in '84 – Back to the Bone settles into an arresting "Love Ain't No Stranger" before kicking up a fuss with a rowdy, stomping "Slow An' Easy" and the rough-and-tumble, red-hot funk of "Ready An' Willing."

A searing guitar solo from Sykes, whose playing here is edgy and wild, and Powell's powerhouse drumming exhibition bracket a haunting reading of "Soldier of Fortune," and the mid-tempo blues of "Crying in the Rain" is executed with a flair for the dramatic. Throw in a rollicking medley of "Gambler," "Guilty of Love," "Love Ain't No Stranger" and "Ready An' Willing" that represents Jon Lord's final performance with Whitesnake – plus a DVD of these performances with extras such as the "Slide it In Slide Show" and snippets of demos from Coverdale gathered in a music bed for your listening pleasure – and this release, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Slide It In, becomes a reminder of how ambitious and riotous this incarnation of Whitesnake was, the sonic clarity of this release capturing the raw energy of the band while, at the same time, exposing all its flaws and imperfections and building up the lusty enthusiasm of its crowds.
– Peter Lindblad

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