Fans of WHITESNAKE have been patiently waiting for a new studio album for over ten years now, and while 2006’s “Live In The Shadow Of The Blues” sated many a rabid fan, it left even more fans hungrier than ever. Fortunately, David Coverdale and company have seen fit to finally deliver a new WHITESNAKE album in “Good To Be Bad,” thus ending the decade-long drought. But is it of the same quality that one would come to expect from the ‘SNAKE? Sadly, no; while it initially seems like a good-hearted attempt to stage a comeback, “Good To Be Bad” comes off as lazy, redundant, and boring after just one spin.
“Good To Be Bad” contains all of the Blues-infused Hair Metal/Hard Rock riffs that WHITESNAKE was known for in the 1980s, but wait…that’s not John Sykes behind the guitar! So who are the hired guns aping him this time? None other than DIO’s Doug Aldrich and WINGER’s Reb Beach, of course. Both axeslingers do a decent job at mimicking the old WHITESNAKE sound, and believe me, this is a very guitar-focused album; it almost sounds unnecessarily heavy. “Can You Hear The Wind Blow,” for example, almost seems like it needs to be toned down several notches.
After all these years, Coverdale’s voice appears to have aged fairly poorly. His formerly smooth Hard Rock voice has all but deteriorated into a raspy, thin shout; he sounds positively tired. Fortunately, he does have his moments every so often, such as on “All For Love,” one of the album’s few real highlights.
The main problem with “Good To Be Bad” is the fact that many of the songs simply fall flat in the areas where one would normally expect WHITESNAKE to excel. Where are the smooth verses that build up towards the end? Where are the divine choruses? All of the songs seem to lack any kind of a hook that keeps the listener’s attention; after hearing tired Blues-Metal riff after tired Blues-Metal riff, I started to feel a little tired myself. Another common “trick” that the band overuses is cutting out all the instruments and having Coverdale wail (or attempt to wail, as those notes seem to come a little harder nowadays) all by his lonesome.
All of this not helped by the fact that of the eleven songs on “Good To Be Bad,” only one is less than five minutes long. I usually don’t mind longer Rock pieces…provided they can keep my interest, which relatively few of the album’s tracks manage to do. These tracks could have been easily streamlined, possibly taking ten or fifteen minutes off the hour-long running time, which would have been merciful.
“Good To Be Bad,” for all the waiting and all the hype, is a huge disappointment. Only a few of the songs show any kind of intensity or variable songwriting; the majority of the songs are slapped-together, over-heavy Blues-Rock/Metal. Coverdale, the star of the band, simply can’t sing ‘em like he used to, and without the strength of his voice to rely on, the album simply misses the mark.
(Online June 11, 2008)