SNAKECHARMER – Snakecharmer

Snakecharmer - SnakecharmerWhen I think of Whitesnake, I always think of the version that played between the years 1978 -1984. That was the band that released complete gems such as Lovehunter, Come An’ Get It and Slide It In among others. Old school rhythm & blues based rock n roll that was all about passion, heart and soul. And they also looked the part – nothing fancy, just a t-shirt, leather jacket, jeans and sneakers and then hit the stage and rock the socks off everyone in their way. But Coverdale wanted to strike big in America – so bad that he didn’t mind changing everything that was great about Whitesnake. He fired everyone, dyed his hair blond and started to use glammy and colorful stage clothes, but what was even worse, he turned this fantastic band into a glam rock metal machine. Not that this version was bad, they released a couple of good records and had some brilliant songs in there, but that version of the band couldn’t – and still can’t – hold a candle to the old band. The old members of Whitesnake hasn’t exactly been shining stars since the mid-eighties. Ian Paice and Jon Lord reformed Deep Purple (Lord sadly passed away in July 2012), Cozy Powell played with both Black Sabbath and Yngwie Malmsteen before passing away in a car accident in 1998, Mel Galley passed away from cancer in 2008 and for the members that was as much involved in the Whitesnake sound as Coverdale himself, Neil Murray (bass) and guitar players Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden things have been awfully quiet. No new music has been recorded from the guys but they did form the bands Moody Marsden Band, The Snakes, Company Of Snakes and M3 Classic Whitesnake, using different singers such as Jorn Lande, Gary Barden (MSG), Stefan Berggren (Snakes In Paradise) and Robert Hart (Bad Company), playing old and classic Whitesnake songs in clubs around Britain.

But it wasn’t until 2010 that the guys decided that this should be a real band that would be writing new songs, recording and not just concentrating on the old Whitenake stuff. However, by this time, Marsden had left the band and had been replaced by Laurie Wisefield (Wishbone Ash) reducing the old Whitesnake members to only two. The rest of the band consists of lead singer Chris Ousey (Virginia Wolf, Heartland), Adam Wakeman (son of Yes-Rick, ex-Ozzy, Yes) and drummer Harry James (Thunder, Magnum). And in the year of 2013, the debut self titled album from Snakecharmer is released. As an old Whitesnake die-hard as myself, hopes were certainly raised for an album with a sound reminiscent of the sound that Whitesnake had in the late 70’s / early 80’s. Specially when Micky Moody in interviews has been revealing how much he dislikes the new pop metal sound that Whitesnake got in the late 80’s. I was more or less sure that Snakecharmer would give us old Whitesnake fans exactly what we wanted. unfortunately they haven’t done that. Of course, there is no denying that Moody’s playing and Murray’s bass still reveals their love for bluesy rock music, but the overall sound is much more melodic rock and sometimes even AOR, than rootsy blues based hard rock. And that is a big disappointment – at least for me. But! – this is not a bad album by any means.

“My Angel” is a pretty good opener, a melodic rock track that definitively has its moments, “Accident Prone” – the first single, is a very good groovy rocker, “To The Rescue” is a great, groovy blues stomper, “Turn Of The Screw” is a real killer with a steady beat that grooves like hell and “Smoking Gun” is a bluesy AOR – rocker, not too far away from the US version of Whitensake’s “Here I Go Again”. I really like the song although I believe it could have been even better without the AOR influences. With “Guilty As Charged” they’re getting real close to what I had expected, an oldie Whitesnake vibe, “Cover Me In You” is a very good pop rocker with a big blues twist and “White Boy Blues”, a bonus track (why??) that closes the album is just brilliant – very groovy, very catchy with a touch of gospel in there. A really good debut, but even though I like it very much, I’m still disappointed that the sound is so mainstream. It’s very well produced (polished) and the members performances are faultless – Ousey is a fantastic singer – but I would have wanted it to ROCK! more. Still, I have a feeling that these songs might come across differently in a live situation and maybe the release of album number two will get the right treatment.

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

Tracklist:

01. My Angel
02. Accident Prone
03. To The Rescue
04. Falling Leaves
05. A Little Rock & Roll
06. Turn Of The Screw
07. Smoking Gun
08. Stand Up
09. Guilty As Charged
10. Nothing To Lose
11. Cover Me In You
12. White Boy Blues

One comment on “SNAKECHARMER – Snakecharmer

  1. I have been waiting for this one. I’ve always loved Harry James, he’s rock solid like a metronome and visually interesting. It’s gotta be tough being a singer that many people, myself included, are going to automatically compare to Coverdale.

    Interesting review because I am still on the fence as to whether I want to part with dollars for this one! I like what I hear but it’s not making me automatically order it. I hear the mainstream aspect of the sound you’re referring to. In one respect though, while it may be mainstream, it still sounds different to what most bands are releasing these days, in a refreshing retro way.

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