Whitesnake – Slip Of The Tongue (1989)

Whitesnake – Slip Of The Tongue (1989, Geffen)

  1. Slip Of The Tongue
  2. Cheap An’ Nasty
  3. Fool For Your Loving
  4. Now Your Gone
  5. Kittens Got Claws
  6. Wings Of The Storm
  7. The Deeper The Love
  8. Judgement Day
  9. Slow Poke Music
  10. Sailing Ships

Band Lineup:
David Coverdale – Lead Vocals
Steve Vai – Guitars
Adrian Vandenberg – Guitars*
Rudy Sarzo – Bass
Tommy Aldridge – Drums

*(Due to an injury, Adrian Vandenberg does not perform on this album but is credited. Steve Vai handles all guitar recordings.)

Additional Musicians:
Glenn Hughes – Backing Vocals
Tommy Funderburk – Backing Vocals
Don Airey – Keyboards
Claude Gaudette – Keyboards
David Rosenthal – Keyboards

Produced by: Mike Clink & Keith Olsen

Total time = 46:47

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After the massive success of the multi-platinum WHITESNAKE (1987) album, Coverdale and company follow-up with the very similar sounding SLIP OF THE TONGUE. By ’89, Whitesnake was one of the top arena rock bands with plenty of radio and MTV airplay for singles ‘Still Of The Night’, ‘Is This Love’, and the re-make of ‘Here I Go Again’. The problem is you have to follow it up and keep the success going so you follow the same formula.

First thing you notice with the opening title track is the keyboard intro. The previous album’s success was based on heavy guitars with a touch of keys. This record starts with keyboards but the track is one of the best on the album chock full of guitar swagger. ‘Cheap An’ Nasty’ follows with very juvenile lyrics but it is another fast rocker. Unfortunately, Steve Vai begins with his tone-less wanking all over this song and it takes away from the feel. Vai is one of those guitarists that is technically proficient but his over-the-top playing takes away from the songs, kind of like Yngwie. The lead single for this album is a re-make of ‘Fool For Your Loving’ (originally the lead single on 1980’s READY AN’ WILLING) showing that Coverdale is following the same formula as he did with ‘Crying In The Rain’ and ‘Here I Go Again’. It’s a solid re-make with all the spit and polish of late ’80s production and Vai’s noodling during the solo. I actually like Vai’s take on this bluesier song because he plays within the song, not above it.

‘Now You’re Gone’ is the third single and is a mid-paced, keyboard-laced, tune that has more to do with AOR than Hard Rock…..sounds like an Asia song! I think of this as ‘Here I Go Again’ part 2 and it doesn’t work. Pair up ‘Kittens Got Claws’ with ‘Cheap An’ Nasty’ as the two mirror each other with more juvenile lyrics and slick production. Did Coverdale and Vandenberg go to Gene Simmons school of songwriting on this one? This is something I would expect from Vinnie Vincent era KISS…..or Vinnie himself! How many songs in ’89 had a line similar to “She’ll tease ya, please ya”? Too many. One of my favorites here is the fast ‘Wings Of The Storm’. Less keyboard, more guitar and almost Metal…..those are good qualities! Listen to the underlying main riff, it’s almost Power Metal! This should have been a single but it would have been too heavy for the current trends of the late ’80s.

The mid to late ’80s provided bands with a proven successful formula for hit singles: Heavy, fast rocker first, power ballad second, mid-pace and/or hard rock song third. Whitesnake follow the formula perfectly: first was ‘Fool For Your Loving’, third was ‘Now You’re Gone’, and sandwiched in the middle was the power ballad ‘The Deeper The Love’. It’s your basic love sick ballad with big guitars, keyboards, and sing-a-long lyrics. I call it ‘Is This Love’ (part 2) because that’s what it is, ‘Deeper’ doesn’t stray too far from the previous style right down to the video featuring Tawny Kitaen. The years have been kind to this song because it gets overshadowed by ‘Is This Love’, hence it doesn’t get overplayed and I consider it one of the better ballads of the decade for that reason alone.

I saw Whitesnake live a few years ago with the Scorpions and they played ‘Judgement Day’, I had forgotten what a cool song it was! This is the mid-paced song that should have been a single instead of the sappy ‘Now You’re Gone’. ‘Judgement Day’ is heavy with the keyboards lending depth to the main riff. Sounds like old Whitesnake with David using his deeper, bluesier drawl. I’m impressed with Vai as his solo is clean and not overbearing while the main riff stays simple and powerful. Same with ‘Slow Poke Music’, it’s heavy and sounds like older Snake. There’s a groove here that is missing on more than a few tracks on this record, it’s the attitude that made SLIDE IT IN (1984) and the s/t ’87 album what they were and it’s here! I would have liked to hear a little more of this attitude on some of the other songs. Ballad #2 is the album’s closer, ‘Sailing Ships’. This is a superb song, how this wasn’t a single is beyond me. I understand that ‘The Deeper The Love’ follows the trends of the time but ‘Sailing Ships’ has that Classic Rock sound, that Led Zeppelin quality to it that translates well into radio. Definitely Led Zep sounding until the last couple of minutes when Coverdale starts using his higher register and Vai solos it up. I think if ‘Now You’re Gone’ charted high, Whitesnake could have released this and come up with another hit ballad.

Bottom Line:
This record has aged well over time and I reach for it much more than I do the ’87 record. The album starts off heavy but then the next four songs basically play down to the stereotypical late ’80s cock rock style. The songs are decent but too juvenile, over the top, and predictable. I’m not big on the continued recycling of older material again but ‘Fool For Your Loving’ is solid and does the job. Same with ‘The Deeper The Love’, it’s predictable but it does the job. So what we have here is an album with half the songs sounding like any band from the end of the decade could do them and the other half sounding like vintage Whitesnake. If you can look past ‘Cheap An’ Nasty’ and ‘Kittens Got Claws’ and take them for what they are then this album is more ballsy. Favorite songs: ‘Judgement Day’, ‘Sailing Ships’, ‘Wings Of The Storm’, ‘Slow Poke Music’ and ‘Slip Of The Tongue’. For the record, I like the three proper singles, especially ‘The Deeper The Love’, but these other songs are far superior.