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Coverdale • Page
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"Robert Plant is going to be seriously pissed when he hears this." – RIP Magazine, 1993

Although critically lauded at its inception and during the subsequent album release, the collaboration of David Coverdale and Jimmy Page is a largely forgotten one. There were several rumored motivations behind this project. Robert Plant had long carried a passionate loathing for Coverdale, going back to his days in Deep Purple and 80's era Whitesnake. Jimmy Page had been trying for years to convince Plant to acquiesce to a Led Zeppelin re-union. Coverdale himself had always seemed to revel joyously in the contempt he spawned in Plant. The melding and both direct and indirect involvement of three massive egos made for an interesting sub plot and story line, and as it turned out, Page got his wish for a reunion.

Coverdale, or "Cover-version" as Plant called him, was one of the more respected and talented vocalists in the hair metal genre. Although some would argue that this is similar to winning a fist fight with a quadriplegic, Coverdale had been around the block and was as close to a "professional" vocalist as you would find in the genre, save Sebastian Bach. In his prime Page was a master of mixing melody and power blues that is largely credited for helping launch a genre. After the demise of Zeppelin, he spent the better part of 13 years doing little besides pretending not to dabble in the occult and releasing the occasional uninspired solo album. He had a lot of time to work on this album, and upon listen, it shows.

Musically the album expectedly sounds like a mixture of Whitesnake and Led Zeppelin, minus the unforgettable power drumming of Bonham and the experimental sounds of Zeppelin's prime. Page is on his game, blending strong riffs with slow burning blues and mixing in a final touch of infectious melody. Lyrically, it is different than one would expect. The absence of Plant means there are no Celtic-dragon slaying storylines. From Coverdale's perspective and history, there are predictably pieces of hair metal inspired tomfoolery, but for the most part songs are centered towards mortality, loss, redemption, and fear.

Coverdale has always sounded his best when he was most blatantly trying to rip off Plant. There are times throughout the record where he goes to a raspier, deeper voice, but he is most effective in blending between soft, almost spoken tones with passionate screeches like his predecessor. There is no Still of the Night like performance, but the record is strongest when Coverdale is strongest, mostly because there are very few weak moments from Page.

The album opens with Shake My Tree, one of the more formulaic and straight forward rock songs present. Waiting On You follows the trend, and has a chorus that sounds exactly like something taken straight from Whitesnake's 1987 self-titled album. As far as straight forward rockers go, they mostly hit and briefly miss on occasion. Feeling Hot is the requisite hair metal inspired "we are going to go out and get wasted and laid" theme, although it contains a crunching riff from Page. Pride and Joy was the lead single, incorporating a Mandolin led intro into a song dripping with sexual innuendos, a specialty of Coverdale's. Absolution Blues finds Coverdale channeling Plant more than anywhere else on the album, and carries a riff that sounds like Heartbreaker off Led Zeppelin II on a healthy dose of speed. Overall, the straightforward rock numbers do a fine job of complimenting the respective talents and ensure the record is considered "hard rock." Ultimately however, it is not where the album shines.

There are three slow burning epics on this album that catapult it from merely good to stellar. The three are spread throughout the album, although it would have been wise to put them in order at the end, creating a three pronged epic closing. Regardless of the order, Take Me For A Little While, Don't Leave Me This Way, and Whisper a Prayer for the Dying, are easily as good as anything Coverdale has ever done, and shows off a different side to Page. Many of Page's stronger ballads from the Zeppelin era relied heavily on jangly acoustics and had an upbeat tone. These songs are dark on the surface, and rely heavily on somber toned picking from Page. Take Me is the strongest song on the record and is carried by a memorable lead break that takes place during and right after the chorus. Whisper a Prayer and Don't Leave Me are much more brooding, but have a passionate and yearning undertone to them that stick with the listener. In short, they outshine the Slow and Easy's of the world.

There are moments of filler, most notably Over Now and Easy Does It, with a heavier emphasis on the latter. Over Now was a single and has a huge riff but never really takes off. Easy Does It" should have been left off the album. The final mentioned track is Take a Look at Yourself, a direct rip-off of Smokey Robinson's Tracks of my Tears. A fan of soaring Power Ballads would be right at home here, and that is probably the point.

The final verdict is aside from the drama, the motivations, and the egos, this is a damn strong hard rock/blues record. It melds elements of hair metal, blues, and mid-era Zeppelin influence to create a sound that would have laid waste to most of the material that came out in the 80's in the same genre. It may have also been strong enough to piss off Robert Plant just enough to reunite with Page. -Sputnik Music
Statistics

Released:
Mar. 15, 1993

Chart Position:
#5 (US) #4 (UK)

Tracks

1. Shake My Tree
2. Waiting on You
3. Take Me for a Little While
4. Pride and Joy
5. Over Now
6. Feeling Hot
7. Easy Does It
8. Take a Look at Yourself
9. Don't Leave Me This Way
10. Absolution Blues
11. Whisper a Prayer for the Dying
Quick Fact

According to David Coverdale, the traffic sign shown on the cover of the album signified "two roads joining to one road, trying to express unification or joining together."
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

December 16, 1968 - Zep plays Bath Pavilion for a mere £75.
December 26, 1968 - First American concert at the Coliseum in Denver, CO
December xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin are reported to have sold 5 million dollars worth of albums in the US
December 11, 1969 - Led Zeppelin are presented gold and platinum discs for their first two albums
December xx, 1970 - The band enters Island Studios to begin work on the fourth album
December xx, 1971 - The band plays a few low-key shows back in England
December 23, 1972 - The band break for Christmas holiday after a London gig
December xx, 1973 - John Paul Jones works on studio productions for Madeline Bell
December xx, 1973 - Joe Massot films Jimmy Page’s fantasy sequence at Loch Ness
December 19, 1974 - John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page jam with Bad Company at the Rainbow Theater
December 10, 1975 - Led Zeppelin play a 45-minute show with Norman Hale at Behan’s in Jersey
December xx, 1976 - Led Zeppelin rehearses for the 1977 tour
December 25, 1976 - It’s announced that Plant and Bonham will reunite with the Band of Joy for three shows in the new year
December xx, 1977 - The band minus Robert gather to discuss Led Zeppelin’s future plans
December xx, 1978 - The new album is completed quickly at Polar Studios and mixed at Jimmy’s Plumpton Studio
December xx, 1979 - John Bonham considers joining Paul McCartney’s Wings
December 29, 1979 - The band minus Jimmy Page attend the Paul McCartney And Wings Kampuchea befefit show
December 04, 1980 - Led Zeppelin issue the following statement not to carry on as a band: "We wish it to be known, that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the deep sense of harmony felt by ourselves and our manager have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."
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