Shake My Tree
Waiting On You
Take Me For A Little While
Pride And Joy
Easy Does It
Take A Look at Yourself
Don't Leave Me This Way
Whisper A Prayer For The Dying
In 1993, two of the world’s biggest rock stars released one of the decade’s more unexpected albums. Former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and ex-Deep Purple/current Whitesnake vocalist David Coverdale had been brought together by legendary A&R man John Kalodner in the sort of tag-team rock fans dream of (and Page’s ex-Zeppelin partner Robert Plant has nightmares) about.
"Working with Jimmy was an utter treat," said Coverdale. "He was and still is a hero of mine. The album took a lot longer than we’d hoped, but, personally, I treasure every aspect. The hardest part for me was losing my mam during the recording, but Jimmy was very gracious and supportive and we put the work on hold so I could be with her. Nothing else came near to being as hard as that time for me."
It sold a million Stateside, but the partnership didn’t last. Despite plans to make another album, it wasn’t to last – after a handful of shows in Japan, the partnership dissolved. Page reunited with Robert Plant for the unplugged No Quarter album, while his erstwhile colleague put together a new Whitesnake line-up.
Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute.
Other albums released in March 1993
- Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? - The Cranberries
- Stain - Living Colour
- Frank Black - Frank Black
- Animals with Human Intelligence - Enuff Z'nuff
- Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz
- I Hear Black - Overkill
- The Polyfuze Method - Kid Rock
- A Real Live One - Iron Maiden
- For the Beauty of Wynona - Daniel Lanois
- Independent Worm Saloon - Butthole Surfers
- Phobia - The Kinks
- Ask Questions Later - Cop Shoot Cop
What they said...
"Everything about Coverdale/Page, right down to the goofy copping of the Presence artwork, is an attempt to recapture the pompous majesty of Led Zeppelin. It doesn't succeed, of course, but it does leave all of the Zep clones in the dust. Although Jimmy Page plays better here than he has since 1979's In Through the Out Door, there is a conspicuous lack of solos." (AllMusic (opens in new tab))
"This is a damn strong hard rock/blues record. It melds elements of hair metal, blues, and mid-era Zeppelin influence to create a sound that would have laid waste to most of the material that came out in the 80’s in the same genre. It may have also been strong enough to piss off Robert Plant just enough to reunite with Page." (Sputnik Music (opens in new tab))
"The shame of it is that Coverdale-Page is a stunning rock album. For years it haunted my bargain bins, simply because of the hard rock stigma that permeated the 1990’s. Many fans refused to listen to it, others simply chose to mock superficial elements of it, such as Coverdale’s man-shrieks. The fact that Page was looking and sounding great should be enough to warrant multiple listens by any serious rock fan." (Mike DeLano (opens in new tab))
What you said...
John Davidson: When this album dropped in 1992 the rock world was listening to grunge or thrash or the melancholy art rock of REM. I don’t even remember it being released and until this week I hadn’t listened to the album all the way through. Much as I love Led Zeppelin I have never really had much interest in Page or Plant’s solo efforts or collaborations with other artists. Having listened to this a few times, and indeed dipped into The Firm as a point of comparison, I can see why.
My overall impression is that the album is ‘alright’, but it is largely devoid of inspiration.
David Coverdale does a half decent job on vocals – he sounds more like the David Coverdale of the early 80s rather than the hair metal version – which is a definite plus but his lyric writing hasn’t really improved. While Robert Plant was prone to a few 'ooh babies' and songs about shagging, he did develop as a lyricist over the years and produced some beautiful, interesting, singable phrases.
Jimmy Page is posted missing for much of the album. There are hints and echoes of his work with Zep, but there’s not much in the way of memorable riffs to be had and the few mediocre solos don’t add anything to his legacy.
It sounds almost phoned in. Which brings me to the production values.
The sound is uncharacteristically muddy, completely lacking the punch and finesse that Page usually brought to the engineering desk. It’s got that recorded live in a basement vibe, but without any of the virtues of intimacy or energy.
Page shows all the characteristics of someone who hasn’t gotten over a previous marriage. He occasionally tries to hook up with new partners, but never for long, he had a couple of goes at rekindling the past with Robert Plant, neither of which came to anything and has now settled into a life of looking at old photographs and home recordings
That said, if you are going rest on your laurels the Led Zep back catalogue is a might comfy place to park your butt.
Opener Shake My Tree is lively enough but, overall, the song writing isn’t really up to par. The two album highlights, Absolution Blues and Whisper A Prayer for the Dying” are reserved for the end – and in that warm fuzzy glow, they tilt the score upwards to a 6/10.
Bill Griffin: This is the best post-Zeppelin album of Page's career mainly because he was writing music and arranging it the way he wanted to instead of trying not to sound like that band. Much better than either Firm album and Walking Into Clarksdale.
Mike Knoop: I love David Coverdale's voice. He is one of the greatest hard rock singers and a pretty good songwriter too, at least on the fast ones. And, let's face it, he can do a pretty damn good Robert Plant impression.
Jimmy Page sure seemed to think so. I never really cared for the "billionaire bluesman" that Page had become with the Firm and his solo Outrider album. But in Coverdale he has found his best partner since, well... you know who. He reaches so deep into his Zeppelin bag of magic that you would think he still has Zoso embroidered on his pants leg.
As Oscar Wilde says, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." And as John Fogerty proved in court, you can't plagiarise yourself. So what if Coverdale and Page raid their back catalog for best riffs and studio tricks? This is great stuff.
It feels like Coverdale and Page are having a blast and that feeling is infectious. Kudos too to drummer Denny Carmassi and bassist Jorge Casas for being the perfect rhythm section to help this refurbished mothership achieve liftoff.
Zepp-alikes like Shake My Tree and Pride and Joy party like it's 1975 with Over Now and Easy Does It dabbling in that patented Zeppelin "light and shade." But it's not all Zepp-licas, scorchers like Feeling Hot and Waiting On You bring back the classic Whitesnake sound while the closing twofer of Absolution Blues and Whisper A Prayer For The Dying splits the difference between the two legends.
If the album has a weakness, it's the power ballads. Take Me For A Little While and Take A Look Yourself both have a strong whiff of late 80s Whitesnake but the former works for me while the latter doesn't. Don't Leave Me This Way almost works as an epic but takes too long to get to the climactic payoff.
Ultimately Coverdale/Page was not meant to be more than a one off but what a one off it was. Two of hard rock's best uniting to celebrate the sound that one of them created and the other carried forward into the next decade.
Iain Macaulay: All I knew about this album was seeing the cover in record shops when it came out. I never bothered with it. I don’t even remember the singles. The reason why is lost in the mists of time, but probably has to do with what I was listening to and playing at that stage of my life.
Those first two tracks pack quite a punch though. A great way to start an album. I can live without Take Me For A Little While though, I’m afraid. Pride And Joy is pure Zeppelin. Or is it pure cover version? As is Over Now. But I’m not bothered, they are both great songs. Feeling Hot is too much a throw away track... those lyrics! And on that note, it’s the lyrics that let it down for me in places: Take A Look At Yourself? Oh crumbs.
And a few of the songs on initial listen are a tad long. However, I quite enjoyed the experience, a lot more than I expected to, I have to say. It’s quite a bouncy, groove-based album that definitely gets you moving about. There are some fantastic riffs and solos throughout it and the playing is so tight. I’m not a fan of Whitesnake but I don’t mind Coverdale here. And other than the dodgy keyboard bursts in Whisper A Prayer For The Dying. I could imagine Soundgarden having written it.
On the whole, the album stands the test of time pretty well. The production is great. Although, it does have a bit much of that 90s chorus effect clean guitar thing going on, which I find a bit jarring after a while.
Uli Hassinger: My memories of this album were that it was quite a disappointment considering that two of the greatest rock musicians of all time worked together. My memories have not deceived me. I still think the record is boring after listening to it again after a long time.
In my opinion Coverdale at his best was the greatest rock singer of all time. What he did on the Purple and early Whitesnake albums is still the benchmark for all singers. Best example is Live In The Heart Of The City. His vocals go from smooth to bluesy to screaming hard. His range was unrivalled. His performance on this record is not bad at all but he can't achieve what he was able to sing previously. Furthermore he tries to sing like Plant on several songs which doesn't suit him.
I even don't think that the guitar playing is remarkable. But the main thing which the album misses is good songwriting. The songs aren't really bad but not more than average. There is not one song which stands out. Beside that the songs are overlong which make the album quite a stretch. Remembering that both Coverdale and Plant have proven in the past that they are brilliant songwriters this record is miserable. They would probably had difficulties to find a label releasing it without the big names.
If that wasn't enough the production is lousy. Especially the guitar sound is crap. I not even get what thy want to express with all the pictures with the traffic sign positioned in different landscapes. The sleeve is boring too. So my rating of this album is only 4/10.
Marco LG: I bought this album when it came out, mainly because of my love for the voice of David Coverdale. I was a fan of all things Whitesnake, the early albums and even more so the chart topping 1987 and Slip Of The Tongue. I still had not listened to Led Zeppelin but I was very much aware of who Jimi Page was, and of course I was also in love with the solo albums by Robert Plant, at least those released from 1988 onwards. With that in mind, my opinion at the time was that Coverdale/Page was a great album. I thought the performance of David Coverdale was masterful and the guitar solos were just spectacular.
Listening to it now, however, with all the right reference points in place, my opinion has changed dramatically. This sounds very much like a collection of outtakes from Whitesnake and Led Zeppelin, mashed together for maximum effect. David Coverdale works a reasonably good impression of a young Robert Plant and Jimi Page plays as hard as if it was 1975. The album remains very much enjoyable to my ears, even though it’s tiresome in places, but there is no denying it is not the great piece of art I once thought it was.
In short: this collaboration between Coverdale and Page is fuelled by nostalgia more than anything else, it contains a few sparks of genius but also a few pointless throwbacks. Like many albums of the 90s it is a tad too long, and ultimately overstays its welcome long enough to tire the listener. 6 out of 10 from me.
Matthew Foster: I love Zeppelin as much as the next geezer, so it’s surprising to me that I’ve never listened to this record before this week! So I come at it with fresh ears and 27 years of hindsight.
Yes, Coverdale/Page is quite Zeppy in many places. In my mind that is a good thing. Coverdale is of course one of the all time great rock vocalists, and the term “guitar god” was practically invented for Jimmy Page. It’s nice that they came together on this. The strongest songs are the ones where Jimmy is clearly driving the songwriting such as Shake My Tree, Pride & Joy and Over Now. You can definitely tell it’s none other than Jimmy playing guitar on these tracks – his inventive chord voicings and oddly accented riffs are a real treat, some of his best post-zep work.
My personal gem on this album is Don’t Leave Me This Way, a slow-burning mutant blues a la Since I’ve Been Loving You with some very tasty solos and unique chord changes from Page. And Coverdale is great as ever – although you won’t find much in the way of deep metaphysical poetry in the lyrics, he sure sells them well.
The main criticism I have is that there is a tad too much forgettable power balladry, the prime example being the bland Take Me For A Little While. The production is clear but also dated – almost every song has 80s style reverb and keyboards in unnecessary places. Boring album cover too.
So it’s a product of its time. Think of it as being from an age when the dinosaurs of rock roamed the earth for the second time. But most of the songs are well worth a few spins if you want to hear what Jimmy Page was doing a decade or more after the end of Zeppelin. All in all, I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it – Coverdale’s contribution easily beats most of what he did with Whitesnake. I rate it 7/10.
Carl Black: I’m not going to lie, I was a bit worried about this one. Two enormous superstars, two gigantic egos, two colossal pay checks. Was this going to be some overblown, cynical display where the names on the cover I are more important than the music inside it?
I needn’t of worried. This is more like two friends sitting down, pouring a nice sherry and, for a laugh, write some songs. It blends the two elements from Led Zep and Whitesnake that I love. The massive riffs and the massive voice. This is stripped down to the bone and the raw ingredients are left bare. No over blown solos, no wailing vocals, and no MTV 80s videos. Just two blokes with nothing to prove playing some great songs.
Going to give this a few more spins. Really enjoyed it
Gary Claydon: Easily the best thing of JP's all too sparse post-Zep catalogue. This was largely due to the fact that there was no pressure to deviate far from his comfort zone and he was in tandem with a top notch vocalist who was happy to be along for the ride while adding a few of his own trademarks along the way. And I think they gelled really well.
This is an excellent hard rock album. Neither Page or Cov are at the very top of their game here, either performance-wise or in the songwriting stakes but, let's be honest, slightly below par from these two is still miles better than most of the rest. The album still attracts plenty of 'it sounds too much like Zeppelin ' comments just as it did at the time of release. Well no shit Sherlock. Wonder why that is. And let's be straight. There is no such thing as too much Led Zep and 1993 wasn't exactly awash with genuine top class hard rock, so Coverdale/Page was a welcome oasis in a desert of dreariness. It also heralded the well documented and amusing spat between dear old David and the man he, for a short time, tried very hard to imitate, Percy's 'David Coverversion' jibe being countered with ' I wouldn't send him cat food if he were starving'. Now, now boys.
I've always really liked the feel of this album. There is nothing here that you would ever call a classic but at the same time there is nothing you could truly call duff. Opener Shake My Tree is excellent, it's core riff apparently derived from something Page discarded when working on In Through The Out Door ( and subsequently also during his days with The Firm). The closing two tracks Absolution Blues and Whisper A Prayer For The Dying are also standouts, although my personal favourite is the up-beat Easy Does It, which has some neat work from the Denny Carmassi/Jorge Casas rhythm section.
Coverdale/Page isn't groundbreaking or earthshaking but it is a very good album which has aged pretty well.
Brian Carr: Released in the middle of my music retail daze, there was no way Coverdale/Page was getting past me. I bought it then and liked it a lot, but for some reason it has sat idle in my CD collection for an extended period of time. Now I have the chance to find out why.
I think there have previously been some comments about some 90s albums being too long - I definitely get that feeling here. My drop candidate would be Take A Look At Yourself, a fine song, but it seems like the kitchen sink thrown in. I also feel, odd as it is to say, that I feel like I’ve sort of outgrown David Coverdale to some degree. I don’t dislike his voice at all, but maybe it’s his level of cliched cheese factor leaves me flat at times.
All that said, there is some exceptional playing going on here. I’m not put off by the Zep-ness of the album; instead I bask in the killer riffs. Maybe a few more listens are in order.
Matthew Joseph Hughes: This one has a handful of great songs, and some maybe not so memorable. Of course it's not Led Zeppelin, but it's not exactly Whitesnake either. I enjoy this more than No Quarter or Walking Into Clarksdale, and more than most Whitesnake stuff. I think of this as David's best album, his finest vocals - Plant called him David Coverband at the time right? Plant hadn't quite found the groove he got into with Mighty Rearranger, Raising Sand, Band Of Joy etc. so maybe he was a little jealous of David's vocals working so well with Page. No disrespect to Plant. I'd take Plants recent solo work over any of this... but it's still worth several listens. It's pretty solid.
Lee Jones: Simply a John Kalodner project designed to make money. A soulless and dull album.
Paul De Maria Mañas: A very enjoyable album with some top tunes. Nothing groundbreaking but it has aged well. Jimmy and David made a great combo and both sounded very energised, especially Jimmy.
Simon Catchpole: Great album! Way better than Clarkesdale. Shame it hasn't been reissued with extra tracks, live stuff etc. Shame it wasn't an extended project, whilst Coverdale really had a great voice.
Laurent Biehly: Awful. Coverdale was my favourite singer until 1984. Then not only did his voice change following his operation - which is fine - but his while style changed. He became a “screamer” and copied Plant much too much. He lost his uniqueness, which lied in his deep rooted love of the blues. Here the songs are bad. All of them. Despite the amazing line-up of musicians, this album is a huge disappointment to me.
Will Taylor: Love this album. Yes Cov screeches quite a bit but overall it's top notch. The start of Absolution Blues always gets me and Whisper A Prayer For The Dying is massive. The ballads are top on the gorgonzola scale and the rockers rock. What more could you ask for from these two in 1993? I thinks it's aged pretty well. Sad to see only a handful of Japanese dates before it all petered out, I think a full tour would have really launched this instead of it being an early 90's curiosity.
Keith Jenkin: Whatever your opinion on Coverdale's singing there is no doubt for me Jimmy Page has not played better on any new material since.
John Edgar: A great album driven by fantastic performances by both Coverdale and Page. Some people may dismiss it these days, but it upon release it was all over the radio and it hit the #5 spot on the U.S. Billboard sales charts. Also, keep in mind that this release rocked our socks off right in the middle of the grunge movement, a period in which a lot of rock bands could not even get a U.S. record deal.
For me, this album has aged very well. I still pull it down for a spin a couple of times a year. A remastered and expanded edition would be a wonderful thing, but from what I've read, I just don't think it will be possible. In 2008 there was a fire at Universal Studios in California. One of the buildings that burned was an archival storage facility. Many master tapes were forever lost in that blaze, and the Coverdale/Page album masters were listed as being lost in that destroyed archive.
Alex Hayes: Coverdale/Page was very likely the last rock album that I bought on vinyl. I remember walking out of Electron Records in Burnley the week of the album's release with the very same copy of the album that I own to this day. It's pretty safe to say that I had high hopes for it. A pairing of both David Coverdale and Jimmy Page? Two men very firmly in the driving seat of two bands that were a huge influence in the musical development of my teenage years? This couldn't fail surely? Thankfully, it didn't. It was a winner and easily one of the finest releases of 1993.
This album is huge. I mean that literally as it's over an hour long, a character trait of many albums from that period. It's stocked with stirring, epic, blues rock numbers that bring out the best in both Coverdale and Page, although I do find Coverdale's voice a tad hoarse in places. He was plainly still feeling the after effects of both his throat surgery in the mid-80s and subsequent back to back platinum Whitesnake albums and world tours. I almost find myself drained after listening to this in full, such is it's relentless, epic quality. I'd suggest cutting the album down from 11 to just the 10 songs and trimming it's run time a bit, but wouldn't have a clue which excellent track to suggest ditching. Even thinking along those lines seems almost like heresy somehow.
This is a monster of an album that proves that, actually, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. I couldn't care less about Robert Plant's sniping, this was a fantastic, if brief, collaboration between two rock titans.
Jonathan Novajosky: This album feels like it should have come out right smack in the middle of the 80s. But it unapologetically rocks hard. David Coverdale's bluesy vocals work great here with Page, bringing great riffs and rhythm playing in songs like Easy Does It and Over Now. There's also great variety in Coverdale/ Page – I enjoyed the softer songs sprinkled in, such as Take Me For A Little While. Some of the tracks can drag on a little longer than necessary, but none of them are bad. This is a neat little one album project by the two, it's too bad they didn't make another. The only thing major issue I have is the horrible album cover, but if that's the only critique I can give, then Coverdale/Page is a win in my books. 7.5/10
Clive Boorman: The least inspiring, most obvious album they could have made. Instead of being its own thing it was just like a cut price Zep with strained Coverdale vocals. Not unenjoyable, but totally predictable.
Final Score: 7.21⁄10 (281 votes cast, with a total score of 2027)
Join the Album Of The Week Club on Facebook to join in (opens in new tab). The history of rock, one album at a time.