Picks and Pans Review: Slip of the Tongue

updated 02/05/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/05/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Whitesnake

We might never have heard of this derivative British hard-rock band if they hadn't struck upon the marketing masterstroke of putting sultry actress Tawny Kitaen in all their videos. That helped their U.S. breakthrough, Whitesnake, sell 6 million copies, a stunning success despite the critical drubbing the band took—basically they were portrayed as mangy Led Zep copycats.

Now we discover they're not a band at all, but a musical franchise with interchangeable parts. When guitarist Adrian Vandenberg suffered a hand injury, Whitesnake hired guitar gunslinger Steve Vai, formerly of the David Lee Roth band, for this recording session. (Both Vai and the recovered Vandenberg take part in the band's current tour.) You have to marvel at Vai's technique, but his blurring speed makes his playing curiously unaffecting. And there's nothing extraordinary about David Coverdale's voice; he's just a serviceable squaller. The band is still chasing after Zep, as the lumbering title track proves. However, the songs aren't even up to the level of competency of the last Whitesnake collection.

Lyrically they devote most of the album to rock's dumbest myth: the nymphomaniac, stiletto-heeled succubus. The band dips into this tawdry theme on, among other tunes, "Kittens Got Claws." Clearly they kept the tape running in the studio long after Whitesnake ran out of ideas. (Geffen)

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