To paraphrase...if you put 100 monkeys in a room with 100 instruments, 4 of them will eventually churn out a cliche-ridden, innuendo-filled, riff-heavy hard rock album that almost everyone will mock. And I say that with all...ahem...you know...due respect. Such was the case of Jimmy Page and David Coverdale and their rhythm section of original Montrose drummer Denny Carmassi and Gloria Estefan's bassist...that's right...Jorge Casas in 1993.
And while I will not even begin to defend David Coverdale's hair or any Whitesnake videos with or without Tawny Kitaen, if you know me by now, it shouldn't surprise you that I am here to celebrate and defend 1993's "Coverdale • Page" release, as well as the simple pleasures of a big drum sound and just about anything that sounds like Led Zeppelin."
Here's Stephen Thomas Erlewine's AMG review, which belies the 4 1/2 out of 5 stars the record was given:
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. If you've never liked David Coverdale, his performance will not change your opinion. Both fare better on the rockers; the power ballads tend be slightly tedious. Essentially, Coverdale/Page boils down to a guilty pleasure at its best moments ("Shake My Tree," "Pride and Joy," "Absolution Blues"), but never quite rivals the bold experimentation of Led Zeppelin.
Sounds more like a 2 1/2 -3 star write up to me. Actually, I think the review is dead-on, except I always have trouble with the term "guilty pleasure." I feel no shame when listening to this record. I don't feel guilt when I think something is good... and I think this record is good. Yes, every song is a Led Zeppelin rip off, but so what? Every Zep tune was a rip off of something else anyway, right? (I don't really believe this completely. I'm just attempting some preventive quelling of the LZ Hate Squad.)
"Coverdale • Page" goes to eleven. Hell, it goes to twelve and thirteen. It's pompous and silly. You can hear the hair. It sometimes out taps Spinal Tap. But, all of that is just not enough to dismiss some great playing. Plus, it's got a good beat and you can dance to it. Some of it.
(I love music. I can't help it.)
At the risk of oversimplifying, I can't complain about a record like "Coverdale • Page," even with its shortcomings and smatterings of unintentional laughs. Why? Because people like Lana Del Rey and the members of Coldplay exist. That's why. And I definitely can't help myself, even at my age, when my arms begin to form a very subtle air guitar during "Shake My Tree."
I'll get around to lighting some scented candles, opening up a container of hummus, steeping some green tea, and kicking back all introspective-like with a Nick Drake record. (No, I won't.) For now, gimme a shot and a beer and a record that is much better than most want to remember or admit.