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Coverdale Page was the first solo album of any previous Zep member that I bought and was the first album to introduce me to David Coverdale. Since that time I've seen The Snake live and just about heard every song that both Page and Coverdale have ever recorded and this one still holds up amongst the best work that both of them have done. Some people are bound to disagree with that statement, but this is my review - so read on!
Of course, Jimmy Page was once in the mighty Led Zeppelin and before that in psychedelic 60's group The Yardbirds. He trawled the world with the group blasting everyone into next week with his mighty riffs and outrageous flares. However, after the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980 the group broke up and Page returned home to take up new hobbies like drinking, black magic and heroin.
Coverdale was a contemporary of Page, having taken up the reigns of Deep Purple in 1973 from relative obscurity. He then formed Whitesnake who recorded some excellent blues-rock before turning into an MTV poodle-rock band with their '1987' album (amazingly made in 1987). Coverdale looks like Robert Plant, sounds like Robert Plant and is detested by the Actual Robert Plant.
By 1993 both men had come to a crossroads, Page was annoyed that singer Robert Plant was unwilling to resurrect the Led Zeppelin and Coverdale had had quite enough of The Snake. So an unholy union was formed between the two men which led to this album and an eventual tour of Japan where they blasted out both Zep and Whitesnake songs (and much bootlegged as well you can imagine). Does it sound like Abba or 10cc? What do you think?! Its no-nonsense hard rock all the way from beginning to end.
The critics at the time we quick to shoot the project down in flames, Coverdale to them was nothing but a Robert Plant wannabe. It must be said that Coverdale has always wanted to sound like Robert Plant - one famous caption in the NME back in the early 80's had pictures of the two side by side. Under Robert Plant the caption read: 'I come from the land of the ice and snow' and under Coverdale it said 'Funny that, so do I'. However, saying that whilst Coverdale has always yelled and beaten his chest like Planty he actually possesses a much deeper and wider range in his voice, having the ability to make women's tops fly off at thirty paces.
I've heard Coverdale / Page hundreds if not thousands of times since I bought the album back in 1996 (the receipt is still in the CD booklet!) and for me it gets better and better with every listen. This afternoon in fact in preparation for this review I had it on at full blast on my iPod whilst painting the garden fence - god knows what the neighbours thought when they came out their front door! Every song is a belter with not one duff track on the entire record.
I'm sure many Zep fans will either love or hate this record, particularly for the inclusion of David Coverdale, but for Page this is by far his best work since Physical Graffiti. In fact, this is only one of two records that he has made since the breakup of Zeppelin that have actually been any good (the other being the collaboration between himself and The Black Crowes - Live at the Greek).
The album gets off to a fantastic start with the brilliant 'Shake My Tree' which starts acoustically and then builds up to a massive heavy rock crescendo by the end. Not all the tracks are heavy by any means, what is also great about Coverdale's voice is his ability to sing very softly without sounding shrill (sometimes Plant had trouble with this ), here the ballads come in the form of 'Take Me For A Little While' and 'Take A Look At Yourself' both are fantastic in their own right.
By far my favourite track from Coverdale / Page is the epic 'Whisper A Prayer For The Dying' which can easily be compared to Zep's Kashmir on sheer musical scale. The song really shows the synchronicity between the two leads as they storm through a heavy rock landscape.
Lyrically the album isn't too great, for example Feeling Hot: 'You'd melt a heart of ice, babe, you're so hot. / So pump it up, raise the dead, / Squeeze it, honey, 'til it's cherry red / I ain't too proud to beg for what you got. Quite what was about to get squeezed is anyone's guess - but I'll have a quick stab in the dark!
The riffs are heavy, the voice is loud, Coverdale Page should not be dismissed as a third rate Zep, but a fantastic hard rock record in its own right. Some say Page made the album just to get back at Plant who at the time was holding out on a Zep reunion (sound familiar?), whatever the reasoning the album is a great one-off that rejuvenated Page and brought a bit of class to the plastic-trash that Whitesnake were becoming at the time.
Its annoying to think that this project was so short lived. There surely must be a call for these two guys to get together again and record another Coverdale Page album. They both seem to be at similar crossroads again - Page again is still trying to get Plant to come back to Zep - and Coverdale is still exposing his Whitesnake. I'm sure that another album would yield some more classic songs.
One of my favourite albums of all time, Coverdale Page is available now from amazon.co.uk for £12.49.
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
Disc #1 Tracklisting
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