Whitesnake • Live in ’84
Whitesnake : Live In ‘84 – Back To The Bone
Released worldwide November 2014 as a DVD or a Deluxe CD/DVD edition.
Nice package! (Fnaar.) David Coverdale has helped put together a special DVD / CD to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Slide It In. It’s an important release in that this is the first archive effort from the band to include elements of the classic line-up – until now David has noticeably stayed clear of any meaningful releases which hark back to this early era of the group. The Slide It In tour kicked off in February 1984 in the UK (reviewed at length in DTB Issue 29) then covered much of Europe before rocking up in Scandinavia in April. The line-up featured apart from David, Mel Galley on guitar, Jon Lord on keyboards, Cozy Powell on drums, Neil Murray returning on bass and new boy John Sykes on second lead guitar. It was certainly a defining moment for the group, and marked a move to a harder edged sound which promised much. But it was also a period of turmoil, with Coverdale looking toward America for a lead in his career. Jon Lord was compromised on a couple of fronts; firstly he was becoming disillusioned with his role in Whitesnake, and secondly the Deep Purple reunion was bubbling away in the background – a question now of when not if.
By April 14th when the group played Stockholm Jon Lord was working his notice and Mel Galley was back home with serious arm injuries (which saw him fired from the band few months later), the group down to a five piece. The final show appeared on a double vinyl bootleg back in the mid 1980s. This new DVD set includes part of the Stockholm show on film, though so far the origins are not certain. It is likely to be from the TV show on the 16th – Mandagsborsen. Being Jon’s last show with the group this is of interest and while a chunk has circulated on VHS in the past if memory serves, I’m not sure exactly how much was filmed in the first place so we don’t know if this DVD contains all that’s available or not. It was quite funny as the audience are all sat around at dining tables in the stage front area. DTB reported the show at the time (issue 30) and seemed to be upbeat “Jon Lord (has) the chance to play a little more in the forefront and John Sykes came through with some beautiful solo work, especially during Love Is No Stranger. Cozy plays with all he’s got as usual as does Neil. The whole band play really well and David’s vocals are sheer magic as usual.”
The group then dropped down to a four piece with a hidden keyboard player and embarked on a longer tour. When I say longer, we’re talking something like four months almost non-stop, the bulk of the shows being a prolonged slog around America, occassionally as headliners, other times supporting the likes of Quiet Riot and Dio.
This was broken by a batch of half a dozen Super Rock Japan events in August. Two of these shows were filmed and one forms the centrepiece of this new release. And while this is good news for most of us, the show has circulated widely on pirate for years, having been released in Japan on video not long after the event. The show was broken up by interviews on one pirate version, hopefully they’ve stripped those out and bundled them as an extra. Keyboard player on these gigs was the mysterious Richard Bailey, who had to play hidden behind a curtain for some reason known only to David. It’s not unheard of for bands to do this, but always struck me as supremely insulting.
The Slide It In tour marked the end of the first chapter of Whitesnake, after which the band was broken up. By the time they reappeared three years later only David Coverdale remained, and even he was hard to recognise!
The DVD is released as a stand-alone release or in a deluxe edition which includes the DVD and a bonus audio CD. This CD has selected tracks from the festival, alongside a wedge of material sourced from unknown bootleg sets. Hopefully these will be properly itemised on the packaging.
The DVD also has a selection of unseen photographs and some snippets of album demos.
“It’s still hard for me to find the words when remembering that half the incredible band who originally recorded the “Slide It In” album with me have passed away,” says Coverdale in his press release. “It’s incredibly difficult to articulate: Cozy Powell, Mel Galley, Jon Lord – all amazing people and amazing musicians. Their memories live on in our hearts and in the music they made. I miss them beyond words. Wait until you see and hear them playing as only they can and add in the fiery guitar assault of the incredibly gifted John Sykes, plus the relentless melodic bass pounding of Neil Murray.”
So, perhaps not the fan package we might have hoped for (there are other media performances out there from the time) but a step in the right direction. As for the actual package, they’ve fallen back on the same sort of graphics which has adorned all the recent releases – anyone hoping for the classy sleeve imagery of Slide It In itself will be disappointed. Also disappointed is Neil Murray who has taken to social media to ponder why he doesn’t get paid for any of his input to the music. Check out our Whitesnake family tree for more details.
Both formats are available to pre-order on the DTB store. Tracks listings are also confused as the pre-release sheets do not differentiate between full songs and snippets, but as best we can work it out:
DVD: Super Rock Japan August 1984 Seibu Stadium Gambler / Guilty of Love / Love Ain’t No Stranger / Ready an’ Willing / Slow an’ Easy / Crying in the Rain / Guitar Solo – Soldier of Fortune – Drum Solo – Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City / Don’t Break My Heart Again. Jon Lord’s Final Performance with Whitesnake, Sweden, August 1984 : Gambler – Guilty of Love – Love Ain’t No Stranger – Ready an’ Willing. Gallery : Rare unseen photos and snippets of private demos
Audio CD : only available with the DVD
Live tracks from uncredited 1984 bootleg recordings: Gambler / Guilty Of Love / Love Ain’t No Stranger / Slow An’ Easy / Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues / Ready An’ Willing / Guitar Solo – Crying In The Rain – Soldier Of Fortune. Super Rock Japan 84: Love Ain’t No Stranger / Ready an’ Willing / Slow an’ Easy. Sweden April 1984 (Lord’s last show) : Gambler – Guilty of Love – Love Ain’t No Stranger – Ready an’ Willing.
Thanks to Matthew Kean, David Browne, Tim Summers for rattling my cage. Isn’t it good to be talking about real Whitesnake again after how many years?