Whitesnake: ‘Slip of the Tongue’

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Whitesnake can quite rightly claim to have released one of the last great rock albums of the Eighties, as it was unleashed on the general public in November 1989 after a long and difficult recording period.

“Slip of the Tongue”, the band’s sixth full studio album was the follow up to the mega-selling “1987” from two years previously, and although the line-up that recorded that album had been shed, the touring members had pretty much been kept together, with just the loss of Vivian Campbell to musical differences.

The majority of the songwriting was shouldered by Adrian Vandenberg and David Coverdale, but Vandenberg suffered a serious wrist accident before recording could begin and after a significant wait for the errant wrist to get better, it was decided that time was of the essence and a new guitarist would have to be found for recording.

Coverdale had never met Steve Vai before or even heard much of his playing, but he had seen him playing the Devil’s guitarist in the climax to the film “Crossroads” (1986). Suitably impressed, he employed him on the spot and what a wonderful edition to Whitesnake he proved to be. Vai had to record some of his parts for this album from his own studio due to finishing up earlier commitments, but when he went full time with  Whitesnake and hit the stage, he was IT. The Devil’s guitar player was all flash and thunder.

Of course the duo of Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge were more than up for their parts as the rhythm section, and while all the guitar playing is credited to Steve Vai, Vandenberg is still credited as being a part of the band.

The album was a great hit, selling over a million copies and spawning 3 hit singles (2 top 5’s in the case of “Fool for Your Loving” and “The Deeper Your Love”.) The first of these, “Fool for Your Loving” was actually an old Whitesnake song, originally released on the “Ready’n’Willing” album in 1980 and written by the band’s British guitarists Bernie Marsden, Mickey Moody and the ever-present Coverdale. It was a trick they’d used on their previous album and it meant some nice copyright payments for Marsden and Moody.

Of course all three hit songs off “Slip of the Tongue” came with very watchable videos, which were on heavy rotation on MTV and featured fast cars and the very curvy Tawny Kitaen (shortly to become Mrs. Coverdale.)

The album opens up in true Eighties rock style with a steady beat, innuendo, gritty riffs and shredding guitar solos. Keyboards are very much kept to the background and Coverdale’s roar is at the very pinnacle of every song.

David Coverdale.
David Coverdale.

By the time it came to take Whitesnake out on their biggest ever tour, Vandenberg was fit and the band were firing on all six. The tour took them all over the world, including playing Monsters of Rock at Donington Park in the UK to headline over Aerosmith. The tour was split into two parts, allowing Whitesnake to play just about every major stadium on the planet. David Coverdale had not done too bad for a man who was selling shirts in 1972 and playing in cover bands in his spare time.

Mott the Dog Rating: 5 Stars.

Steve Vai.
Steve Vai.

Track List:

Slip Of The Tongue

Cheap and Nasty

Fool for Your Loving

Now You’re Gone

Kittens Got Claws

The Wings of the Storm

The Deeper The Love

Judgment Day

Slow Poke Music

Sailing Ships

Whitesnake:

David Coverdale – vocals

Adrian Vandenberg – guitar

Steve Vai – guitar

Rudy Sarzo -bass guitar

Tommy Aldridge – drums