35 Years Ago: Whitesnake Release Their Fourth Album, ‘Come an’ Get It’
Whitesnake’s career came to a crossroads with the release of their fourth studio album, Come an' Get It, in April 1981 – a crossroads that delineated their fortunes on both sides of the Atlantic.
In their U.K. homeland, as well as throughout Europe and even in Japan, singer David Coverdale’s hard-rocking blues sextet (completed by former Deep Purple colleagues Jon Lord on keys and Ian Paice on drums, plus guitarists Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody, and bassist Neil Murray) were established stars by then -- as evidenced by Come an’ Get It’s No. 2 showing on the British charts and the Top 20 single “Would I Lie to You.”
But in the U.S., nobody was listening, even though Whitesnake’s previous album, 1980's Ready an’ Willing, had shown some signs of life, climbing to No. 90. But Come an’ Get It would come nowhere close to that. Even before MTV started introducing music fans to enticing visuals on a mass scale (the game-changing cable network would launch a few months after the record's release), the States’ musical temperature was rising to unprecedented heights of excess and bombast in line with the ‘80s economic boom.
In light of these fast-changing commercial demands, Come an’ Get It’s blue-collar brand of organ-laced riff-rockers (the title cut, “Hit an’ Run,” the punchy “Hot Stuff”) and more melodic, soulful offerings ("Don't Break My Heart Again,” “Lonely Days, Lonely Nights,” the somewhat folksy “Till the Day I Die”) recalled the ‘70s and not a new era.
Look no further than the album’s centerpiece, the dramatic “Child of Babylon” (which inhabited a place and time somewhere between Rainbow’s “Gates of Babylon” and Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying”) for proof. To put it in perspective, 1981 was ruled by polished, forward-looking AOR records like Journey’s Escape, Foreigner’s 4 and REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity.
In other words, Whitesnake’s career prospects, while showing nothing but positive growth back home and elsewhere, were still residing in a strange kind of commercial purgatory in the U.S. This state of affairs prompted a strategic label change (from the low profile Mirage Records to up-and-coming Geffen Records) ahead of the following year’s Saints & Sinners, which, in turn, seemed to ignite Coverdale’s ambitions to juice up Whitesnake’s sound to cater to Stateside audiences. To seal this transition, most of his original Whitesnake bandmates would be replaced by younger members before decade’s end.
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