I live in the United States, and given my age, I was a “musical child of the 80’s”. I was 15 in 1980, and music of that era is what dominated my rock listening style. Like a lot of Americans, I was introduced to Whitesnake through the Slide it In album, and that crystallized with the 87 “Whitesnake” album. It’s THAT version of Whitesnake that most Americans knew. Like a lot, I wasn’t aware of the history before that – and there was a lot. The Barnie Marsden / Micky Moody / Neil Murray version of Whitesnake was well, lost on me. I was at the time more interested in watching Tawny Kitaen in music videos. While I still like the 87 album (Still of the Night is a great track), I’ve repented of ignoring the earlier ‘Snake material. That’s what I’m talking about here today – sort of.
Out this week in UK/Europe is a new album of studio material from the new band, “Snakecharmer”. They’re “technically” new, but really, if you know your hard rock past, they’re not – at least not individually. Snakecharmer is named as such because it’s formed from the ashes if you will of earlier Whitesnake. The band’s lineup is:
- MICKY MOODY – guitar, slide guitar, vocals
- NEIL MURRAY – bass
- LAURIE WISEFIELD – guitar, vocals
- HARRY JAMES – drums, vocals
- ADAM WAKEMAN – keyboards, vocals
- CHRIS OUSEY – lead vocals
You should recognize a couple of those names if you’re a fan of this site. Both Neil Murray & Adam Wakeman have been in Black Sabbath. Neil of course was in Whitesnake for quite awhile, as was Micky Moody. My usual concert going buddy was quite excited at this album, to be honest – as he stopped listening to Whitesnake with the advent of the ’87 album. :)
Anyway, just having the pedigree of band history isn’t enough – the question is, can they deliver with new material? They certainly can. I’m not going to do one of those track by track reviews, but I will say this about the album. If you were a fan of the late 70’s incarnation of Whitesnake, or just a fan of hard rock mixed with the blues, then this is right up your alley. Normally when I listen to new albums, especially from bands I’ve not heard anything from before, I usually have to listen more than once for it to “gel”. Not this one. Snakecharmer felt “right” from the first listen – because the vibe is so familiar. The official press release for the band says this…
“Musically, ‘Snakecharmer’ is everything you would expect from musicians with such a pedigree: a finely crafted hard rock album with blues and melodic overtones, akin to Whitesnake (1979-81 era), Bad Company and with hints of early Foreigner.”
I can see all of that – this album has a very “old comfortable shoe” feel to it. Anyone who was a fan of that kind of material in the past should instantly take to this album. Very good stuff. I really REALLY hope that Snakecharmer is not just a one shot deal. Not like I expect them to be album/tour/album/tour/album/tour for the next 6-7 years, but… I really hope this isn’t the only album from these dudes. Also, a remark about the vocals that has a loose Black Sabbath connection. To my ears, Chris Ousey sounds a bit like the late Ray Gillen in places, which to me isn’t a bad thing, a voice very well chosen for this kind of music.
There’s something to be said for “comfy shoe” music that feels instantly accessible to one’s musical past, yet is brand new, and isn’t anything you’d heard before. That’s a great combination, and Snakecharmer has it in spades.
The album itself comes out this week in the UK & Europe. It comes out February 2nd here in the United States on CD, but is available on iTunes now – not sure why the differences in release dates for formats, but there you are…
I cannot recommend this album higher – it’s a great solid piece of rock for those who liked the Moody/Marsden/Murray era of Whitesnake, as well as other rock of that era. Very VERY enjoyable. Hope these guys come to the US.
If you’re on Facebook, go check them out over there. Their website is also worth checking out, too. But more importantly, buy the bloody album! In this day of freely available music, and illegal downloads, don’t rip these dudes off. It’s good shit – pay for it like you should. Links are available here: