By the time Whitesnake released its self-titled album in 1987, the band – a vehicle for founder and former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale – had existed in one form or another for almost a decade. With the Release of Whitesnake (titled 1987 in Europe), Coverdale and crew, who had already enjoyed a taste of mainstream success in the U.S. market with 1984’s Slide It In, became a worldwide success.
Thanks in part to two top five hits in the U.S., the #1 monster single “Here I Go Again” and the #2 “Is This Love,” the Whitesnake album propelled the band from opening act in American to headliner. Heavy video rotation on MTV for both hit singles, which featured actress and Coverdale’s future wife Tawny Kitaen, helped push the album past the eight million mark in U.S. sales. 1987 and ’88 turned out to be the year of the Snake.
Unlike its blues-rock predecessor Slide It In, Whitesnake was a slick album. Despite the more mainstream sound, the nine track collection had a lot of bite. The Led Zeppelin-esque “Still Of The Night” was a ballsy number that featured slithery guitar work from axe master (and the song’s cowriter) John Sykes, and Robert Plant-like vocals from Coverdale. The song’s lyrics dripped of sexuality:
“In the still of the night I hear the wolf howl, honey, sniffing around your door,” Coverdale growled.
Although some longtime fans felt Coverdale had sold out with the Whitesnake album, the disc was more of a natural evolution than anything else. Sure the production was polished, but songs like “Crying In The Rain,” “Bad Boy” and “Children Of The Night,” with their over-driven electric guitars and Coverdale’s raspy wail, could have appeared on previous Snake albums. The thundering backbone and blistering riffage fit the musical landscape of the ’80s.
It wasn’t all gold on Whitesnake, however, “Straight For The Heart” felt like a leftover song from a Bon Jovi recording session. “Give Me All Your Love,” despite its shimmering production and radio-friendly subject matter, didn’t stack up to the rest of the album. Somehow the song felt like it could have been fleshed out more. Even though the disc-closing “Don’t Turn Away” wasn’t a bad song, it felt more like filler. Still, six solid songs out of nine was pretty good for a rock album in 1987.