Live at Donington 1990

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One of the last hurrahs of the 1980s melodic hard rock and heavy metal era is chronicled on Whitesnake's Live at Donington 1990. The 2011 special-edition box set two-CD/one-DVD package was recorded and filmed in front of 72,500 fans at the Monsters of Rock festival in Castle Donington, England on August 18, 1990. Whitesnake headlined above Aerosmith, Poison, Quireboys, and Thunder, which tells you just how huge the band was at the time. But Whitesnake circa 1989-1990 was an interesting yet troublesome period for the band led by vocalist David Coverdale. He'd started the shift from earthy blues-rock to a more polished form of hard rock with 1984's Slide It In and further perfected the formula and blew the roof off with 1987's massively and deservedly successful Whitesnake (titled 1987 in Europe). Coverdale also hired and sacked members at will and was often accused of creating increasingly more photogenic lineups to conquer MTV. Following up Whitesnake was a daunting task, as 1989's Slip of the Tongue showed. Guitarist Adrian Vandenberg suffered wrist/hand injuries and was replaced for the recording by legendary virtuoso Steve Vai, who played with Frank Zappa and was also a hired gun for David Lee Roth's band. Vai's flashy, jaw-dropping style fit the times, but, truth be told, not with Whitesnake's overall musical aesthetic despite Coverdale's calculated push in a modern, more commercial direction. (The band's conscious stylistic shift came more from the brain than the gut -- or the crotch, despite the lyrics.) Coverdale, Vandenberg, Vai, bass guitarist Rudy Sarzo, and drummer Tommy Aldridge (along with keyboardist Rick Serate) put on an entertaining show at Monsters of Rock, although Coverdale's thick, resonant voice is uncharacteristically rough and raspy at times. Vandenberg, Vai, and Aldridge shine throughout and highlights include "Slide it In," "Judgement Day," "Slow & Easy," "Is This Love," "Crying in the Rain," "Fool for Your Loving," "Here I Go Again," "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City," and "Still of the Night." Coverdale folded the band for a time after this tour, which wasn't surprising. The seismic shift in the rock landscape caused by the rapid rise of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and other flannel-draped grunge purveyors of self-doubt, depression, and angst rendered Whitesnake's gleaming, supremely confident, sex-obsessed swagger moot for the next decade. The DVD features the complete concert (although the picture quality is often fuzzy), behind-the-scenes footage (narrated by Coverdale) ranging from the making of Slip of the Tongue to the tour's last concert in Tokyo, and a slide show.

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