Sound — 6
Since the release of Whitesnake's 2011 studio album "Forevermore," the hard rock unit has embarked on several tours in support of the effort however mostly notably experienced a significant lineup alternation when guitarist Doug Aldrich (who also played on 2008's "Good to Be Bad" and was involved with the initial Whitesnake rebirth in 2003) announced he was leaving the group in order to explore other avenues musically. In his absence, frontman David Coverdale and guitarist Reb Beach of Winger turned toward a common ally in Joel Hoekstra from Night Ranger and Trans-Siberian Orchestra fame. A surge of excitement subsequently erupted amongst familiar listeners, which only increased when Whitesnake confirmed they were actively working on their twelfth studio album.
So 2015 was the named as the destination for this next installment, and all seemed well in the universe until one little point was brought up: no new material would be included on this latest Whitesnake album, and instead the band's first record with Hoekstra would be entirely comprised of cover songs from Coverdale's first role as a member of Deep Purple in the 1970s. That's specifically targeting the fan-favorite titles "Burn" and "Stormbringer," which have remained cherished records by Deep Purple advocates and rock and roll addicts alike. What was initially excitement swiftly turned into mixed responses and some curiosity as to whether Whitesnake would be able to place their own spin on these celebrated anthems?
"The Purple Album" assembles thirteen renditions of songs from the two aforementioned Deep Purple albums to varying degrees of success, and immediately falls somewhere in between both ends of the sliding scale with the opening number "Burn." The guitar work is rather solid, and it would be hard for it not to be when you have Hoekstra and Beach in the same room jamming out a classic Ritchie Blackmore composition, and yet the vocal harmonies rather fall flat in general on this track, and that's without even comparing it to the original where Coverdale and Glenn Hughes originally laid down vocals.
However, "You Fool No One" is a step in a right direction, and does show the members of Whitesnake including a wealth of vintage blues elements into the batch such as burning string bends and a more commendable vocal performance from the veteran Coverdale. "Love Child" embodies a groove rock persona that would have sat rather comfortably on the "Slide It In" record, just as the tempo shifts down to a relaxed acoustic pace with "Sail Away." In contrast to the effort found on "Burn," the band's vocal harmonies are in top form and Coverdale's lower vocal register is as strong as it was on the bold "Coverdale/Page" collaboration.
Songs like "The Gypsy" and "Lady Double Dealer" provide the ideal opportunity for the blistering talents of Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra to emerge through the mix for some striking dueling guitar work atop the concrete percussion work on Tommy Aldridge. It's safe to say that when the members of Whitesnake play to their strengths on "The Purple Album" that the outcome is consistently stand out, however that unfortunately isn't always the case here.
Lyrics — 7
David Coverdale has belting out the high notes to "Still of the Night" pretty much every evening since the landmark rock anthem was released back in 1987, which surely hasn't been beneficial to his voice at age 63. Regardless, he proves that he can still land the high notes to the vast majority of his discography while still being able to drop down to that distinctive raspy lower register that echoes out from the gloomy guitar stylings of John Sykes on the previously mentioned rocker. It's because of this that "The Purple Album" manages to obtain different extents of the Whitesnake sound throughout. Most of the time when the album begins to fall flat of the formidable Whitesnake attitude and instead drifts over to "decent revision" territory, it isn't because of any lack of power or range on Coverdale's end, but instead due to a lack of creative energy or choice backup vocals.
Overall Impression — 7
It is underwhelming that the first Whitesnake album featuring Joel Hoekstra is one entirely comprised of cover songs, however there are still plenty of worthwhile moments to be found throughout "The Purple Album." There are times where the record doesn't always scream that it's a Whitesnake album, but it's still a solid collection of blues rock anthems with a fair share of exceptional tracks, such as the band's takes on "Love Child," "Stormbringer" and "The Gypsy."