By Brian Mansfield | Gannett News Service
“It’s the house of Deep Purple,” Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale says of the band’s new album of Deep Purple covers. “We’ve put a different coat of paint on there and got a snakeskin rug in front of the fireplace.”
“The Purple Album” pays homage to the years a twentysomething Coverdale fronted Deep Purple, drawing its material from three mid-’70s albums: “Burn,” “Stormbringer” and “Come Taste the Band.”
WHITESNAKE With Foghat When: 7 p.m. Friday Where: Vasa Park, 35W217 Route 31, South Elgin Tickets: $25-$75 Info: www.oshows.com
Though Coverdale, 63, says the death of founding Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord in 2012 was the catalyst for what became “The Purple Album,” the most immediate difference in the original versions and Whitesnake’s arrangement is the absence of Lord’s distinctive organ style.
“Lord’s sound was so unique and insanely powerful, I didn’t want to even attempt to re-create it,” Coverdale says. “My whole vibe was to focus on the twin-guitar attack of Whitesnake and have keyboards more as a layer.”
Initially, Coverdale and Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple’s original guitarist, discussed reuniting a version of the group but couldn’t agree on members or musical direction. While Coverdale says, “I couldn’t share the vision he had, so I respectfully withdrew,” he adds that the conversations helped renew a friendship which had been on the outs since a physical confrontation some 30 years before.
“The Purple Album”may be my last big arena-rockstar album,” says Coverdale, who lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. “While I was mixing the album, I had the feeling of coming full circle, a feeling of completion.”
That doesn’t mean he’s planning his retirement. “I want to do a blues album,” he says. “I want to do an unplugged greatest hits but not be tied down to a Whitesnake album.”
Many Whitesnake fans, especially in the U.S., never associated Coverdale with Deep Purple, since the band’s biggest stateside hits, “Hush” and “Smoke on the Water,” came before he joined the band. When Whitesnake inserted the title track from Deep Purple’s 1974 album “Burn”into its set a decade ago, some concertgoers believed they were hearing unreleased material. “For elements of the Whitesnake audience, I think some of these songs are going to be new rock songs,” he says.
The set list for Whitesnake’s tour, which comes to South Elgin on Friday,may draw primarily from the “Purple” songs. “It’s going to be a Whitesnake tour, so you’ll still have your ‘Here I Go Again,’ ‘Still of the Night’ and ‘Is This Love,’ ” Coverdale says. “That’s when it’s going to be great, putting these songs together, to see the musical thread.”