Good to Be Bad by Whitesnake
Release date : April 2008
Reviewed by Mark Fisher
In early December 2006, Whitesnake revealed that the title of its eleventh studio album would be Good to Be Bad, and slated a tentative summer 2007 issue date. During mid March 2007, this date was revised to October. By mid September however, this date was pushed back to May 2008. Five months of songwriting sessions spawned the album's tracks. Production was handled by vocalist David Coverdale's day to day assistant and manager Michael McIntyre, with co-production being overseen by Coverdale and guitarist Doug Aldrich (ex-Dio). Tracks were recorded at Los Angeles, California's Casa Dala, and Coverdale's own Snakebyte Studios in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. During late December, it was announced that Chris Frazier had taken over drumming responsibilities from Tommy Aldridge (ex-Ozzy Osbourne / ex-Black Oak Arkansas), who recorded his drum contributions at Clear Lake Audio in Los Angeles. Mixing, meanwhile, occurred at Lake Tahoe's Hook City, whilst mastering was overseen by David Donnelly at Los Angeles' DNA.
During late January 2008, Good to Be Bad's track listing was disclosed, and the fact that the full length would witness a late April European release. Designed by Hugh Gilmour, the album's cover artwork was unveiled in early February. In early March, the entire record was made available for streaming via SPV Records' official website. Late in the month, four Australian dates saw the group perform in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. During early April, a widget in support of Good to Be Bad materialized.
During the eighties, Whitesnake lost their way, and is one of a myriad of groups to do so. The outfit's earlier material boasts a raw and powerful Rock 'N' Roll heart, though the act's multi-platinum eponymous album (entitled 1987 in European territories, and Serpens Albus in the Japanese market), and its successor in 1989's Slip of the Tongue, were riddled with voguish keyboards and gentle Pop balladry. Albeit financially successful, when the Grunge genre took the world by storm during the early nineties, it was the associations which these two full lengths particularly made that nearly buried the group alongside other “Glam era” acts. Throughout the years, Whitesnake has struggled along as a, for all intents and purposes, David Coverdale solo venture. This begs the following question; is this the genuine Whitesnake, or is the genuine Whitesnake actually Company of Snakes (a project formed in 1998, and mostly featuring Whitesnake's original lineup, albeit sans Coverdale)? Upon listening to Good to Be Bad for the inaugural time, there's no doubt that David Coverdale is, was, and always will be Whitesnake.
So, what does the first Whitesnake studio record since 1997's Restless Heart (which never earned a Stateside issue) sound like? The answer is balls to the wall Rock 'N' Roll. Boasting an overflowing testosterone cup, Coverdale's voice slithers in and out of the heavy, bluesy riffs executed by Doug Aldrich (ex-Dio) and Reb Beach (ex-Winger / ex-Alice Cooper). Upon several tracks featured upon Good to Be Bad, Coverdale adopts a somewhat autobiographical stance, and that's what this reviewer particularly loves about the album. Inaugural cut “Best Years”, for example, is a sonically muscular anthem which mellows during the chorus, enough so that Coverdale can declare; “These are the best years / Truly the best years of my life / The best years of my life”. “Best Years” is paired against an even more muscular anthem in “Can You Hear the Wind Blow?”. Coverdale's Blues laden voice is supported by an army of guitars, and you can't help but feel that Good to Be Bad may just reveal itself to be Whitesnake's finest hour. Amongst Rock fanatics, other surefire hits include the title cut's heavy sonics and “A Fool in Love”'s drunken sound, not to mention the Zeppelin boogie of “Got What You Need”.
Of Good to Be Bad's tracks, ballads prove to be its weakness. If you've traditionally loved Whitesnake ballads, then you might hold a differing viewpoint. In this reviewer's opinion however, ballads are where Coverdale is audibly his most vulnerable in terms of vocals. When supported by a wall of guitars, Coverdale's voice is audibly potent. When placed at the very forefront of a track, especially upon numbers such as the Power ballad “All I Want All I Need” and the acoustic “'Til the End of Time”, it's evident how audibly weak Coverdale's voice is as of 2008. Traditionally, Coverdale has been a superb vocalist, yet upon Good to Be Bad seemingly struggles whilst all alone.
Generally speaking, Good to Be Bad is one of the greatest surprises to materialise during this specific decade. It's doubtful that extremely many individuals thought that Whitesnake would make a career defining full length during 2008, yet they have. If you disregarded Whitesnake, or completely forgot about the act several years ago, then it's time to park yourself back upon the group's wagon.