With the music press concentrating on the grunge bands in the early nineties, the Coverdale / Page project came as a surprise. The album seemed to come out of nowhere (there was little interest leading up to its release). With no massive tour and little exposure on MTV, it seemed to disappear as soon as it came out. Before we knew it Page teamed up with Plant for “Unledded” and Coverdale reformed Whitesnake for a tour for Greatest Hits.
Their brief tour of Japan in December yielded several unofficial titles of the Tokyo and Nagoya shows. A four disc set titled Western Daze (Hard Knockers HSP-2621~4) came out with the two Osaka shows on December 20th and December 21st.
Two Days In The West on Cannonball covers the same two shows but with improved sounding tapes. Western Daze was good, but the Cannonball is much better. The same taper recorded the two and both are uniformly excellent stereo recordings capturing the energy and hilarity of each performance.
Steeped in obscurity as it is, Coverdale recently spoke about the project and revealed previouslyu unknown details. In an article called “David Coverdale Reflects: Going in Through the Out Door with Jimmy Page” published for Jam Magazine Online, David Huff writes:
“With his personal life in shambles, and his professional career in a state of flux, the singer seriously considered opting out of the music business to become a country gentleman. A phone call from his agent in London changed everything. Would David be interested in taking a meeting with Jimmy Page? The invitation was too intriguing to pass up. … The Coverdale / Page project would revitalize the spirits of both musicians. Though the album was mostly overlooked by the grunge buying public at large, for those fans longing for the good ol’ rock and roll days of the ’70s, this album was an instant classic. Jimmy Page rediscovered his inner Led Zeppelin, and was musically brilliant. Coverdale wrote some of the smartest lyrics of his career. Unfortunately, the one thing that would have the won public over – a world tour – would never see the light of day, (outside of a handful of select dates in Japan).”
Coverdale mentions in the article that “We were preparing to go on the road two to three weeks after our album was released in March of ’93. The record blew out of the box if you remember. This is the ’90s. You didn’t release an album and wait around to see how it sold. You jump on it. The whole arrangement for the Coverdale / Page project was to go directly to the theatres, to the stage, and nothing, not even a whisper, came from Jimmy’s manager when the album was released. It was one of the singularly most frustrating periods of my professional career.”
And that the Japan shows came about because they “were supposed to be the end of our six-month tour. We were going to cover the world in six months. Everybody who would have wanted to see Coverdale / Page would have seen it. I finally talked to Jimmy directly, and told him it would be a shame if we didn’t at least play live once. The seven dates in Japan were tentatively still booked. Since Jimmy hadn’t been to the country in 20 years, he agreed to perform the shows.”
Osaka Castle Hall, Osaka, Japan – December 20th, 1993
Disc 1 (57:25): Absolution Blues, Slide It In, Rock And Roll, Over Now, Kashmir, Pride And Joy, Take A Look, Take Me For A Little While, In My Time Of Dying
Disc 2 (59:26): Here I Go Again, White Summer – Black Mountain Side, Don’t Leave Me This Way, Shake My Tree, Still Of The Night, Black Dog, Feeling Hot
The Coverdale / Page tour started with four shows around Tokyo. On December 2oth it moved to Osaka for two nights before ending in Nagoya on December 22nd. The first Osaka show can be found also on the first two discs of Western Daze (Hard Knockers HSP-2621~4) and audience shot footage was released on DVD on Pride & Joy (no label) in 2008.
Cannonball use an excellent recording. The audience are strangely subdued throughout the performance and Coverdale tries very hard to whip them into a frenzy. One can almost hear a pin drop as they walk onstage to start the show with “Absolution Blues.” They continue with Whitesnake’s “Slide It In” and Led Zeppelin’s “Rock And Roll.”
Coverdale sounds wired, constantly shouting “domo arigato.” After “Rock And Roll” he singles out Page, saying “Here’s a song now, Jimmy Page will introduce it.” Instead of saying anything, he spits out a few power chords as an introduction to “Over Now.” It is one of the better songs from the new album and its similarity to “Kashmir” lends it to segue directly into the Zeppelin classic.
“Pride & Joy” is from “the collaboration album” and was the biggest single, hitting #1 on Billboard earlier in the year. It’s a fantastic mash-up of styles and is a compelling live piece. Guy Pratt plays a brief bass solo as an introduction to “Take A Look.” Page is again given the task of introducing a song and calls “In My Time Of Dying” as a song from “the annals of rock history. Let’s see if you can remember this one. Let’s see if I can remember it too.”
Before “Here I Go Again” Coverdale says to those who have never heard the song ”where the fuck have you been the past couple years???” It is one of the best examples of metal-pop to come out of the eighties and is a highlight of both Osaka shows. Afterwards Jimmy Page has his little solo spot, playing “White Summer” and “Black Mountain Side” like on the old Zeppelin tours. But he also includes references to “Over The Hills And Far Away” and “Kashmir” (both of which came out of the song’s development).
“Don’t Leave Me This Way” has quick and sharp Denny Carmassi drum solo in the middle and “Shake My Tree,” including Page’s theremin solo, closes the main set.
When they return for the encores the first number is the Whitesnake song “Still Of The Night.” An interesting version of “Black Dog” follows. It begins with the familiar opening riff to “Out On The Tiles” as it has since its live debut, but they play several more measures of the song before “Black Dog.” Coverdale stretches out each verse for maximum effect increasing the song’s drama. The final number is “Feeling Hot” from Coverdale Page including the introduction to “The Ocean.”
Osaka Castle Hall, Osaka, Japan – December 21st, 1993
Disc 3 (59:27): Absolution Blues, Slide It In, Rock And Roll, Over Now, Kashmir, Pride And Joy, Take A Look, Take Me For A Little While, In My Time Of Dying
Disc 4 (59:36): Here I Go Again, White Summer – Black Mountain Side, Don’t Leave Me This Way, Shake My Tree, Still Of The Night, Black Dog, Feeling Hot
The following night was taped by the same guy and has identical sound quality as the previous night. The setlist is identical, and Coverdale a bit less wired but still maintains high energy throughout the performance. Over Now (ARMS 12/13PR) and discs three and four of Western Daze (Hard Knockers HSP-2621~4) are two other silver pressed releases featuring this concert.
At the start of the show the audience are a bit quiet, just like the previous night, but they warm up quickly and Coverdale doesn’t need to coax cheering out of them as much. The opening “Absolution Blues,” “Slide It In” and “Rock And Roll” are almost magical in execution. But improves greatly when Coverdale introduces Page for “Over Now.”
But Coverdale is also interesting in having the spotlight on the other musicians onstage. He singles out Brett Tuggle on keyboards before “Pride & Joy” and introduces “squadron leader Guy Pratt, the ace of bass” before “Take A Look.”
“Here I Go Again” sounds a bit limp for some reason, as does “White Summer.” Page includes the “Over The Hills And Far Away” and “Kashmir” references, but the song abruptly stops without further elaboration. The finale of the show, however, is exception.
“Don’t Leave Me This Way” has a majestic feel in the guitars and Covedale’s shrieks fit in very well. The set ends with “Shake My Tree” and the encores are again “Still Of The Night,” “Black Dog” and “Feeling Hot” with “The Ocean” and “The Wanton Song” references included.
The Coverdale Page project is certainly one of the more bizarre, interesting, and yet rewarding eras for rock. It stood out from the Pearl Jam / Nirvana / Soundgarden saturation of the airwaves at the time and, because of Robert Plant’s hatred of Coverdale, seemed doomed to failure. Taken on its own terms, however, it has really good music and several exciting live performances.
Two Days In The West is packaged in a standard quad jewel case with very basic but appropriate artwork. Overall it offers a great opportunity to hear two of the latter shows from the short tour in excellent quality.