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Whitesnake: Saints & Sinners - Album Of The Week Club review

Saints & Sinners by Whitesnake features two songs that would later be successfully remodelled... but what of the rest of the album?

Whitesnake: Saints & Sinners
Whitesnake: Saints & Sinners

Young Blood
Rough an' Ready
Bloody Luxury
Victim of Love
Crying in the Rain
Here I Go Again
Love an' Affection
Rock an' Roll Angels
Dancing Girls
Saints an' Sinner

Whitesnake's 1982 album Saints & Sinners is a marked improvement on the previous year's Come an' Get It because someone (the safe money is on David Coverdale) cracked the whip and ordered a return to the band’s formative bar-room style. 

The album had had a long and painful gestation, but the title-track, Rough An’ Ready and Bloody Luxury all hit the spot, and on Crying In The Rain and Here I Go Again the band struck paydirt. 

“Everything was fine up to Saints & Sinners,” said Bernie Marsden, who would leave before the album was finished. “But at some point or other David decided he would be king of Whitesnake.”

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. 

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Background

"At the time, every four steps we took forward saw management decisions make us slide back six steps," says David Coverdale. "It was just getting too much, and it wasn’t improving economically. We were going very deep, playing to 15,000 people on some nights. 

"There are astonishing emotional memories of those times, but the reality was there wasn’t the financial rewards coming in. And my daughter’s serious illness told me very clearly that this was the only time I should have my head in my hands and be worried about being unable to change the circumstances. 

"It was necessary for me to experience that so I could stand up and be counted, and give me the backbone to make life-affecting decisions. I put Saints & Sinners on hold to be with her.

"She came through with no problems at all and she’s amazing now. So, yes, it gave me the balls to turn round to my manager then and say: “I’m done.” And I went to my lawyers and said: “Get me out of there.” And it cost me… Oh, yes… it certainly cost me.

"It cost me more than I had at the time. I was made responsible for the entire Whitesnake debt. It cost me over a million dollars, which I didn’t have, yet I was back in credit in a matter of months. After we resolved the situation, I agreed to finish Saints & Sinners." 

Other albums released in November 1982

  • Hello, I Must Be Going! - Phil Collins
  • Lng After Dark - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • A Kiss in the Dreamhouse - Siouxsie and The Banshees
  • Gone Troppo - George Harrison
  • Showtime! - The J. Geils Band
  • The Lee Aaron Project - Lee Aaron
  • The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect - Todd Rundgren
  • Coda - Led Zeppelin
  • Talk of the Devil - Ozzy Osbourne
  • Three Lock Box - Sammy Hagar
  • Before the Storm - Samson
  • Dawn Patrol - Night Ranger
  • Identity Crisis - Sweet
  • Oh, No! It's Devo - Devo
  • Plastic Surgery Disasters - Dead Kennedys
  • Run for the Roses - Jerry Garcia

What they said...

"What a difference a year makes. After releasing the thoroughly disappointing Come an' Get It, Whitesnake made up for it in spades with 1982's excellent Saints & Sinners, their best record yet. Perhaps it was the arrival of new guitarist Mel Galley (replacing founding member Bernie Marsden) that re-energized the band. (AllMusic)

"Listening to early Whitesnake albums like Saints & Sinners, I would think would have to make anyone wonder why the band didn’t break bigger into the US sooner. With amazing songs not too far removed from bands that had already broken through, exceptional musicianship, and vocals on par with anyone else in rock at the time, all I can guess is that perhaps it was the timing of the band." (Sleaze Roxx)

"A collection of generally bland, uninspired pop rock songs with barely a twinge of the blues and hardly any noticeable power, Whitesnake's fifth studio album aches for a radio hit and a US breakthrough, and is filled with mostly insipid, back-of-the-condom lyrics to try and make that happen." (The Ace Black Blog)

What you said...

Steve Torrens: Released in between the brilliant Come An’ Get It and Slide It In, this album was a real disappointment.

Sonically it’s got all the power and punch of a soggy sandwich. It’s no surprise that the line up got a revamp for Slide It In, as the band had lost it’s way and a shake up was desperately overdue.

Tim Roughsedge: My first Whitesnake album and a real soft spot. Definitive versions of the songs later rehashed for American market. Dancing girls, bloody luxury, saints and sinners. Love em all. Not the best production job but they were on a real write/record album, tour roller coaster at the time.

Jochen Scholl: What to say about an album with two such classics on it like Here I Go Again and Crying In The Rain (the original British blues-rock version, not the US poser's version of 1987) and some fan favourites like Victim Of Love or Young Blood and some solid stompers.

Duncan Leask: A decent album, but it's a band in turmoil. Too many fillers. The "classic" line-up is falling apart and it could be argued their heart isn't in it. A lot of internal and external events (Coverdale's daughter was very I'll around this time). Some good songs (the obvious ones), and some awful ones (Saints and Sinners). Probably the weakest in the full catalogue.

Ian Harbour: Bought this album when it first came out and saw them on tour that year at Leicester De Montfort Hall. I actually prefer the original versions of Here I Go Again and Crying In The Rain though lead in track Young Blood is a great start. All in all a great album .

Wade Babineau: I came in with Whitesnake for Slide It In and then the 1987 album and then back-tracked. Whitesnake's career can be seen as three parts: the early, bluesy, Hammond organ swagger, to the hair metal period, to the current grouping. All have their merits and all have albums that just shine. Clearly though, with this album you can see the cracks starting to appear with members coming and going. 

However, I much prefer the versions of Here I Go Again and Crying from this recording. Dancing Girls is a standout if only for the swirling Hammond from the late Jon Lord. Love the romp of Bloody Luxury. For me the only so-so track is the title song. By the end of it Neil Murray, Ian Paice and Bernie Marsden had quit. Certainly not the worst Whitesnake album. A solid 7/10.

Gavin Norman: So this is without a doubt the weakest Snake album since the debut by the classic British line up, despite having the original (and better) version of Here I Go Again. Compared to Come An' Get It, Lovehunter and the mighty Ready An ‘Willing, it’s a weak album. It's not without merit, though - Crying In The Rain is a great song. But it’s not a classic by any means. The following Slide It In was much better, so at best a 6/10 album for me, although the tour to promote it featuring Cozy Powell was superb (at good old Birmingham Odeon).

Bill Griffin: Although I've had this on vinyl forever, I can't remember listening to it before. I like it even though Jon Lord is buried in the mix, perhaps hoping to avoid Deep Purple comparisons. Indeed, it wasn't until side two when the music reminded me of Deep Purple that I remembered that Jon was on the album. I have yet to hear a Martin Birch produced album that I didn't like. This makes me want to go back and listen to all of the earlier efforts much more than the following commercial hits did.

Stuart Morrison: A decent album and while not a classic, is solid enough. Here I Go Again and Crying in the Rain are outstanding and much better songs than the slick, polished and soulless versions released later on.

John Howells: There was great expectation when this album came out, but it failed to capture how they sounded live. It’s easy to see why Coverdale re-recorded two of the songs for 1987 but I don’t think they’re as good as on this album. Some great songs and some filler.

Mark Tucker: Nowhere as good as Love Hunter et al, but – and it is a big but – it gave us two of the greatest rock songs ever: Here I go Again and Crying In The Rain. Nearly all of the Snake's albums up to this point had been poorly produced, failing to present the band as the amazing live band they were. This is no exception, a thin production does no justice to the songs,

Tanvir Choudhury: Not their strongest album but there are some gems beyond the obvious Here I Go Again and Crying In The Rain with Young Blood, Victim Of Love and Rough & Ready. The last of the truly British blues rock albums and shows some signs of the more bombastic approach to come. A workman-like effort from accomplished musicians with some inspired touches.

Shane Reho: First time I've heard this. Surprised this took until 1987 to get released in the States, I get the feeling this would've sold well. While it runs out of steam a bit near the end, for the first 7-8 songs they get everything done right. Not bad for a band that was falling apart making the album. I'll also say that the version of Here I Go Again here is way better than that hair metal garbage that gets all the radio play. Glad I haven't heard the 87 redo of Crying In The Rain, that's probably the best song here, would hate to have that be tainted as well. 8/10.

Mike Knoop: "Life" this week has kept me from posting earlier and longer than I'd like. I think it's pretty outstanding. David Coverdale has one of the great voices in hard rock. Particularly like the one two punch closers of Dancing Girls and the title track. And I find it endearing that he originally sang, "Like a *hobo* I was born to walk alone" instead of drifter on Here I Go Again. I imagine one of those guys from 1930s movies of guys with their stuff in a knapsack on a stick.

Carl Black: Whitesnake's 1987 was the first album I bought with my own money. I think it had the re-recorded tracks from this album as I do recognise them. I have never heard this so I'm interested in hearing this older incarnation of the band. If I was to guess the year I'd say this was a 70s album. An early to mid 70s album. It's a hard rocker with bluesy parts and an exceptional front man with a proper rockers voice. Nothing wrong with any of the tracks on here. 

Maybe the intro to Here I Go Again is like going to church on a Sunday morning but apart from that, all is fine. I just can't help but think that newer bands were starting to get real traction at this time, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, even Judas Priest were sounding more edgy than this. 

It's just a little dusty and a little old fashioned. But hearing it for the first, in the context of today, I think it's great, just behind the times. It's no wonder DC went for a complete makeover that transformed his band in a way Lawrence Lleweyn-Bowen would be proud of. This is evident by comparing the '83 Donington headline slot with the 1990 show. Nothing at all wrong with this album. It's difficult to find fault with it. But times they are a changing.

John Davidson: Whitesnake were one of those bands that I expected to like, but never really loved. They had some decent singles but none of their studio albums ever really grew on me. There was something a bit stodgy in much of the original sound and something a bit too flash in their MTV era output.

Live In The Heart Of The City is a solid album, but the fact that its standout track is a cover version of a soul single (Ain't No Love..) perhaps illustrates the problem.

While Coverdale can certainly hit the notes and has a pleasant bluesy voice, he doesn't hit the mark as a songwriter very often and his post Deep Purple collaborators rarely write a memorable riff.

So... what does that mean for Saints And Sinners? In truth it reinforces my impression. The songs are largely forgettable, the production is bar room boogie average and even the better songs (Here I Go Again for example) are played better live. Hell, the version on 1987 is better! At least it has some zip about it underneath all the hairspray and eyeliner. A generous 5/10.

Iain Macaulay: This album has got so much going for it. The voice. The guitar. The groove. The attitude. The.... and that’s where I reach an impasse. Where are the songs? Sorry, where are the memorable songs? Even after listening to this album twice I remember none of it (bar that song). 

To be fair, the first time I went, ‘Oo, that sounds great.’ But by the last track I had forgotten how it started. A few days later, I couldn’t remember any of it. And by the end of the second listen today I was in the same predicament. Now I know why I never picked up on them when I was a kid, even though I loved the album covers, which I remember seeing in Sounds and Kerrang! magazine, and on countless denim jacket patches. But the music? Nah, not so much.

Vic Saad: Solid effort. Far from perfect but some real gems like Young Blood. It’s unfortunate that Coverdale will never be recognised as the true force of nature he was/is. Enjoyable effort but not their best. Nice prelude to Slide it In.

Final Score: 6.81 ⁄10 (233 votes cast, with a total score of 1587)

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