White Spirit

White Spirit

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Guitarist Janick Gers fit in quite well when he joined Iron Maiden in the late '80s. For one thing, the members of Maiden and of Gers' first professional band, White Spirit, were both products of the famed New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Unlike most of their contemporaries, however, White Spirit avoided the predominant Sabbath, Priest, and Motörhead tendencies that dominated the genre, and instead looked almost exclusively to Deep Purple for its influence. In fact, this singular source of inspiration helped White Spirit's self-titled debut stand out as one of the NWOBHM's biggest anomalies, since it also lacked any connection whatsoever to the punk movement, which had indirectly galvanized most of the band's peers to action. Opener "Midnight Chaser," for instance, is an obvious stepchild of Purple's "Highway Star" (from the clinically precise rhythm guitar chugging to the animated tradeoff solos between guitar and organ), and at a weighty ten minutes, the seriously melodramatic "Fool for the Gods" could very well pass for White Spirit's stab at "Child in Time" (and not without its fair share of good bits either). With these similarities in mind, jaded listeners could very well preoccupy themselves with playing the "name that Purple tune" game, but this is hardly fair, considering that White Spirit's style is really no more derivative than the style of the band's competition. Plus, outstanding songs like "Way of the Kings" and "Don't Be Fooled" far exceed mere forgery, and will positively delight committed NWOBHM enthusiasts. [The very rare 1997 Japanese reissue adds three pre-album singles: "Suffragettes," "Back to the Grind," and "Cheetah," and while very difficult to come by, qualifies as the ultimate and nearly complete historical wrap-up for this underrated band.]

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