Jeff Lybarger's Song OF The Day

Subj: Song of the day XXXIII (Special Edition IV)
Date: 97-02-25 07:41:41 EST
From: OUTRIDERJL@AOL.COM (Jeff Lybarger)

So here we are, more song's of the day than Super Bowl's and it's time to rile things up a bit. Today, rather than look at a particular song, I'm gonna examine the union between David Coverdale and Jimmy Page, take a look at the album as a whole, and give some personal thoughts about David. If you've been paying attention to anything I've written to the list about Mr. Coverdale, you know then that I like him. It wasn't always that way, and you might enjoy hearing the reason for my about-face. But first, let's go back to the beginning.

Summer of 1984, a friend called me on the tele and stated that Zeppelin had reformed with Cozy Powell and had a new song on the radio called "Slow and Easy". Well, like anybody would do I called the local station and requested this new song. Only I didn't ask for the new Zeppelin song, I just asked for the song by title. As soon as it came on I could tell it wasn't Zep, the recording just didn't sound like a Page-produced track. But, the song was cool. The guy singing had a husky voice, much deeper than Robert's, but a good voice none the less.

It would be three years until I heard of this band again, when a song titled "Here I Go Again" was dominating the airwaves. Another cool song, I love that intro vocal and keyboard section. Then, in early 1988 Robert graced the cover of Musician magazine complete with a lengthy interview. This was the article that would start all of the Coverdale bashing now so familiar to us. In this article Robert went out of his way to put Coverdale down, calling him a female impersonator, saying silly things like "You wait till I finish with you, you pratt". How Robert could come off so callous was mystifying, considering that he and David had been friends in the past. Funny for Robert to accuse David of copying Led Zeppelin, and in particular Plant himself, when all of Zeps lawsuits involved LYRICAL content.

Anyway, being a devoted Zep follower I assumed that what Robert spoke was gospel, and so blew off Whitesnake without giving them any chance at all to turn me on musically. Which is a pity really. Now, fast forward to spring of 1991. Rumours are flying hot and heavy that Jimmy Page, legendary guitarist of Led Zeppelin, is teaming up with David Coverdale, vocalist for the phenominally succesful group Whitesnake. Oh Lord, I thought, what is Jimmy thinking? How in the hell can he do this? Why doesn't he just put out another solo album and stick with John Miles? I was in deep depression over this, I'm telling ya. At this time I was a subscriber to a great Zep fanzine called "Zoso", run by a guy named Taylor, out of San Francisco. All the letters to Zoso were people lashing out at David, saying Page was making a mistake, saying they would go to the show and wear Plant solo tour shirts for David to see, ect ect. It was after learning the rumours were true that I decided I had two options: 1: not get into Coverdale, and therefore not get totally into Jimmy's new album, or 2: investigate this David guy, and see just what he is all about. I chose number two.

I went out and bought several Whitesnake tapes, and at first it felt weird. Me buying a Whitesnake album. Hmmm. But then, as I started to listen to them I discovered something. David Coverdale is very talented. Incredible voice, yes, and contrary to popular belief, he does write some very good lyrics. I found myself not just enjoying these songs, but getting into them a lot. I knew at that point, around September of 1991 that Coverdale/Page would be very good.

Which leads us to the album. This album is stocked full of classic material. Jimmy riffs his arse off, and David turns in a brilliant effort. I have a theory that if this album had been released under the name "Led Zeppelin" it would have sold 10 million copies easy. By the same token, if Jimmy had "joined" David's band, and this was called Whitesnake, it would have sold 5 million easy. After all, the last two Snake albums had topped 11 million without much problem.

David was faced with a no-win situation here. How could he pass on the chance to work with Jimmy Page? He couldn't. But, he also knew that Robert and millions of Zep fans would be waiting to critisize his every move. Should I do this? Should I do that? It had to be very trying for him, and yet he still delivered the goods. The C/P album has sold roughly a million copies, and only stopped selling when they didn't tour to support it. It debuted at number 5, with the "Pride & Joy" single number one for three weeks running.

To this day Robert continues to slam David, even with Jimmy sitting next to him in the interviews. Meanwhile David has never said a negative word regarding Mr. Plant. The bottom line is this, David inspired the single greatest performance from Jimmy in over 12 years. He did so by being himself, not copying someone else. His style is different than Robert's, his voice is very good, and his talent is quite exceptional. You don't last over twenty years in the music business by not being talented.

It bothers me to hear Zep fans put him down, because I wonder if they have ever really listened to him, or are they, like I did, only going on Robert's word? Since I took the time to check him out I have discovered some very fine music. Music that lasts, music that moves me, music that inspires. If you don't believe me, then ask Jimmy.

Coverdale/Page is a classic album by two rock veterans. Nothing is forced here, this is no record company suggestion. Just two masters of their particular craft getting down to business, and giving us, the fans, one helluva treat.

Do please tune in tomorrow when I disect the first of several songs from this short-lived but remarkable union, the project known as, Coverdale/Page.

Peace and Rock on,


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