This was always going to be a controversial one. While some will understandably be disappointed that Whitesnake's first new studio album in four years is, effectively, a Deep Purple covers record, there'll indubitably be many more that'll welcome this release with open arms. Particularly when they hear just how damn good it actually is. Extensive liner notes in the CD's booklet, penned by Coverdale himself, while not written within the context of a man feeling he has to justify why he's re-recording a string of Purple classics under the Whitesnake banner, do offer a very interesting insight into the project's origins. Starting with his discovery of Jon Lord's illness in 2012 and the Purple keys man's wishes for a reunion, Coverdale proceeds to express his profound grief at Jon's sad passing as well as the death of his wife's brother and Aunt Sylvia around the same time. This, apparently, led to some sort of epiphany whereby he set out to right past wrongs and bury bad feelings of yore, including his former Purple bandmate, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. He talks about the failed attempt to instigate a reunion with Blackmore due to artistic direction over the project and how, subsequently, his wife suggested embarking upon the project within the context of Whitesnake, which they both decided to be a great idea "after several glasses" (...but isn't that when the best ideas are born, after many glasses?!)
So, yes, that's how it came to be and, in essence, for Coverdale, it's part-nostalgic trip, part homage, and "a huge thank you" to the band who gave him his first big break. For those who are unaware, Coverdale fronted Purple for almost three years, between 1973 and 1976, lending his distinct voice to some of the band's seminal work, including 1974 albums 'Burn' and 'Stormbringer'. Along with 1975's 'Come Taste the Band', it's tracks from these three albums (effectively, Mark III an Mark IV lineups of Purple) that constitute the appositely named 'The Purple Album'. Whether or not people regard it as inappropriate, disappointing, or whatever to release this using the Whitesnake name is both irrelevant to the cause, and misplaced antipathy. For starters, any ill feeling towards this album is contrary to the very reason it came to be in the first instance (love not war folks, love not war). Further, with Coverdale the only original member left in Whitesnake's ranks, and most personnel (save for sticksman Tommy Aldridge) joining this century, people would be needlessly overprotective of a band's legacy when just about all original members are no longer involved. Finally, and this is the most important point I'll make here, 'The Purple Album' is fantastic. These versions of some Purple classics are relevant, respectful and with just enough subtle reinvention to propel the music back into the twenty first century for discovery, rediscovery, and appreciation anew. Coverdale's voice is in fine shape and the pride he evidently has in his own musical heritage is audible in his vocal delivery. He certainly doesn't sound like he's now in his early 60s, singing as he does with more vigour, passion and emotional sway than a plethora of younger vocalists fronting outfits of imitative, retro-rock pastiche. Coverdale's (still) the real deal. This album is the real deal.
THE PURPLE ALBUM
Review by Mark Holmes
18th May 2015
2) You Fool No One (Interpolating Itchy Fingers)
3) Love Child; 4) Sail Away
5) The Gypsy; 6) Lady Double Disaster
8) Holy Man
9) Might Just Take Your Life
10) You Keep on Moving
11) Soldier of Fortune
12) Lay Down Stay Down
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"These versions of some Purple classics are relevant, respectful and with just enough subtle reinvention to propel the music back into the twenty first century for discovery, rediscovery, and appreciation anew."