Before a new, more hard-hitting Whitesnake was launched in late 1982, there was a lot of chopping and changing within the group. Bernie Marsden left to set up SOS, and then Alaska - who later supported Deep Purple at the 1985 Knebworth Festival. Ian Paice and Neil Murray jumped ship to join Gary Moore's band for two years of rather ghastly heavy metal.
David Coverdale managed to retain Jon Lord's services, and also brought back a supposedly reinvigorated Micky Moody. The new men to add extra punch to the group were ex-Trapeze guitarist Mel Galley, ex-Rainbow and MSG drummer Cozy Powell, and - another jazz rock musician - bassist Colin Hodgkinson, who Coverdale hoped would add a different slant to the music.
The band initially toured to promote 'Saints & Sinners', which had mostly been recorded by the Mk 4 line-up as it was in the process of disintegrating. Unsurprisingly it ranks as one of Whitesnake's weakest efforts. The two strongest tracks (by some distance) were 'Here I Go Again' and 'Crying In The Rain' (both of which would be re-recorded by later incarnations). Nevertheless, Whitesnake's UK popularity remained undiminished, and the new band's tour was rounded off with a pyrotechnic headlining appearance at the Donnington Festival, which adopted a suitably military theme ("Whitesnake Commandos" t-shirts and press packs). New single 'Guilty Of Love' was released to coincide, and the band made the 'Slide It In' album for release in early 1984. Yet again however, by the time it appeared, the line-up which had recorded it was history.
The band's increasingly heavy, flash approach lead to Micky Moody leaving for good at the end of the tour. He was replaced by latter-day Thin Lizzy guitarist John Sykes, who embodied the style which the band were heading towards. Colin Hodgkinson had not fitted in as hoped, and was quickly replaced by the returning Neil Murray.
'Slide It In' was a chart success in the UK, but came in for hostile press reaction aimed at the double-entendre drenched lyrics and titles for which Whitesnake were already infamous (but which were considered increasingly un PC), as well as the resoundingly flat production job. That was soon to change when the band's new US label Geffen demanded that the album be remixed by producer Keith Olsen. It was possibly the most important decision in the band's lifetime. The difference was startling. Suddenly Coverdale had the powerful, dynamic sound which he'd been striving for over the years. Murray had also taken the opportunity to re-dub all of the bass, while Sykes managed to replace a proportion of Moody's work. A strong European tour duly followed, which ran into trouble in Germany when Mel Galley suffered a serious arm injury during a moment of high-jinx. It would lead to him having to leave the band.
The band continued as a five piece, with the lead instrumentalists enjoying more space to express themselves on stage within Whitesnake's dense wall of sound. It was ironic for Jon Lord, who was planning to leave at the end of the tour. He played his last Whitesnake show on Swedish TV's 'Mandagsborsen' (April 16th 1984), and then left to help finalise the Deep Purple Mk 2 reunion. In keeping with the new, streamlined Whitesnake, it was decided not to replace him. Keyboards were instead handled by off-stage player Richard Bailey and for a time Whitesnake were officially a four piece.
As the band shed members, their profile in America began to rise rapidly. The newly remixed and rearranged 'Slide It In' was gaining airplay (such was the demand it had to be released back in Europe as a special edition), and armed with MTV-friendly promo videos and support tours with current US hot-shots Quiet Riot and then Dio, the American market was opening up fast.
Before recording their all important new album, another personnel change was made, when Cozy Powell's suggestion of a four way financial split within the band fell on stony ground. He played his last Whitesnake show at the huge 'Rock In Rio' festival in January 1985, before leaving to become the 'P' in a new 'ELP'.
.... 1982-85 Whitesnake Discography ....
.... 1982-85 Whitesnake On Video ....
.... 1982-85 Whitesnake, Further Reading....