Monday, September 20, 2010

Jimmy Page 3: Coverdale Page

Things were quiet on the Zeppelin front for a few years, until what sounded like a really bad rumor came true: Page had recorded an entire album with David Coverdale of Whitesnake. Even more frightening was the result that Coverdale•Page turned out to be pretty good. Coverdale took a rougher, more “Axl” approach for his singing, and Page came up with new riffs in a production style that hadn’t aged yet.
We need to say this again—the album’s pretty good. “Shake My Tree” and “Pride And Joy” sport classic Page riffs and solos. “Take Me For A Little While” may veer close to power balladry, but the guitars more than make up for it. Throughout, Jimmy plays more “sober” than ever, if that’s a fair description. A decent solo rises from the mix here and there; “Absolution Blues”, despite having the most tenuous connection to the blues, gives him a good couple of minutes to layer on some “scary sounds” for the intro. “Easy Does It”, “Over Now” and about half of the over-long “Don’t Leave Me This Way” also balance their contrasts well.
It’s easy to forget that Coverdale was already a veteran, having sung with Deep Purple in the mid-‘70s. Whitesnake wasn’t much more than an obscure joke until the hair metal era posed the singer as another Plant clone. Besides, it’s not like Page hooked up with Bret Michaels or the guy from Kingdom Come. Both singer and guitarist get equal billing in the writing credits, but it’s easy to blame David for some of the rhymes. “Feeling Hot” is a little silly and “Waiting On You” admittedly “classic” Whitesnake; “Take A Look At Yourself” isn’t too far removed from the type of thing Aerosmith had been doing of late. Such a thing might be expected when the “John Kalodner: John Kalodner” credit appears in the booklet. “Whisper A Prayer For The Dying” would have really pissed off Robert Plant, with all the yelling over lifts from “Kashmir”.
Coverdale•Page is one of the more satisfying offshoots in the Zeppelin canon, if people could just overlook the simple fact that David Coverdale was singing over a rhythm section featuring the drummer from Heart (and Montrose) and the bass player from Miami Sound Machine. The lyrics are printed in full in the booklet, unfortunately, but the tunes are just plain catchy so we don’t pay attention to those anyway. Even today.

Coverdale•Page Coverdale•Page (1993)—3

1 comment:

  1. Always happy to see a positive review of the Coverdale-Page album. Zeppelin's been my favorite band since I was 13 years old in 1979 and I have just about everything they've released collectively & individually. Page's guitar work and production on the C-P album is as good as anything he's done since Zeppelin disbanded. Coverdale does a fantastic job of imitating the young Robert Plant on those high notes (although some of his lyrics are a little embarrassing...I assume he wrote "Feeling Hot").

    The real revelation here, and the thing that makes this a better album than it had any right to be, is the incredible drumming of Denny Carmassi (best known for Montrose & the 80s lineup of Heart). He captures everything great about John Bonham that most other drummers miss: his groove & his swing, instead of merely copying his thunderous sound. I'm constantly trying to convince friends to open their minds & check out this album, and anyone who does is pleasantly surprised.

    As for Fate Of Nations, it's my least played Plant solo album. I think he was struggling too hard to sound like his younger self, but fortunately he would soon give that up and embrace his newfound strength as a singer with a more limited vocal range. I actually think he's a better all-around singer now than he ever was, even though he's lost an octave or two.