The recording process began in 1981, just after the end of the Come an' Get It tour. However, tension within the band was beginning to appear. Micky Moody stated in a 1997 interview that:
"By '81 people were becoming tired. We had too many late nights, too much partying. We weren't making nowhere near the kind of money we should have been making. Whitesnake always seemed to be in debt, and I thought 'what is this?, we're playing in some of the biggest places and we're still being told we're in debt, where is all the money going?'. We hadn't got much money out of it and to be told you're 200,000 pounds in debt, when you just had six golden albums. It wasn't just me, cause everybody was getting tired, pissed off and losing their sense of identity. It was over by then, we couldn't get any further. It's difficult for a band to go more than three or four years without getting tired of each other and losing ideas. Nothing lasts forever. Everybody wanted to do something different after a few years, a solo album or write with someone else."
Moody quit the band in December 1981, and soon afterwards David Coverdale called a meeting with all Whitesnake members and put the band on hold. Coverdale was also worried about the lack of financial reward the band were having, and decided to put the band on hold to dissociate Whitesnake from their manager John Coletta (who had also been Deep Purple's manager from 1968 to 1976). After this parting of ways, Coverdale temporarily took over Whitesnake's business side.
During 1982, the news began to filter through the music newspapers and magazines: guitarist Bernie Marsden also quit Whitesnake, as well as bassist Neil Murray and drummer Ian Paice. Only Jon Lord stuck with David Coverdale.
In August 1982 David Coverdale called Micky Moody and asked him to return to the band. According to Moody, "towards the end of 82, David rang me up and said 'we wanna finish the Saints & Sinners album and we need to do some backing vocals etc'." There were also three new members in the band, namely former Trapeze guitarist Mel Galley, former Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell and Colin Hodgkinson on bass guitar.
As the album was almost finished, the only contribution of the new line-up to Saints & Sinners were the backing vocals recorded by Galley along with Moody at Battery Studios in London; Ian Paice's drum parts and Neil Murray's bass tracks were left untouched.