Slip of the Tongue

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Slip of the Tongue
Studio album by
Released7 November 1989 (US)
13 November 1989 (UK)[1]
RecordedAugust 1988–1989
StudioRecord Plant, Los Angeles
Whitesnake chronology
Slip of the Tongue
Whitesnake's Greatest Hits
Alternative cover
20th Anniversary CD release
Alternative cover
30th Anniversary release
Singles from Slip of the Tongue
  1. "Fool for Your Loving '89"
    Released: October 1989 (US)[4]
  2. "The Deeper the Love"
    Released: January 1990 (US)
  3. "Now You're Gone"
    Released: May 1990 (US)

Slip of the Tongue is the eighth studio album by the British hard rock band Whitesnake, released on 7 November 1989 in the US by Geffen Records and 13 November 1989 in the UK by EMI. The album peaked at number 10 on both the UK Album Chart and US Billboard 200.[5][6] Three singles were released from the album: "Fool for Your Loving '89", "The Deeper the Love" and "Now You're Gone". All the singles hit the US Mainstream Rock Tracks Top 40, two of which, "The Deeper the Love" and "Fool for Your Loving" cracked the Top 5.[7] Slip of the Tongue has sold over one million copies in the US, reaching platinum status.[8] It was the final studio album to be released through Geffen as they were dropped from the label after the Greatest Hits tour by the end of 1994.

"Fool for Your Loving" originally appeared on the album Ready an' Willing, but it was re-recorded for this album.


After touring with their previous multi-platinum eponymous album in August 1988, guitarist Vivian Campbell was having problems with the band due to musical differences. David Coverdale then added that Campbell's wife had a "falling out" with Tawny Kitaen, who was Coverdale's fiance at that time, causing tensions between the two. Originally, lead and primary guitarist, Adrian Vandenberg wanted to be the sole guitarist and personally did not want Campbell in the band. However, this was to be debunked as Vandenberg asserted that he had nothing to do with Campbell's departure but confirmed Coverdale's statements about Campbell's dismissal.[9][10][11] Coverdale then announced that the next supporting album was going to be written by him and Vandenberg, who established a fruitful working relationship at that time.

Songwriting and production[edit]

The writing process for a new Whitesnake album started at Lake Tahoe with singer David Coverdale and guitarist Adrian Vandenberg. Some material, including the title track, had already been written while on tour and some lyrics were finished by Coverdale in Bora Bora. After approximately a month of writing, the band regrouped for three weeks of rehearsals.[12] Campbell shortly later departed on December 1988.

Adrian Vandenberg had planned to record for the album, but the worsening of an existing injury made it painful for him to play, requiring surgery.[13] For the recording, Coverdale chose ex-Frank Zappa and David Lee Roth guitarist Steve Vai. Coverdale was unfamiliar with Vai's work with Zappa or Roth, but had seen him in the 1986 film Crossroads, in which Vai had greatly impressed him. Adrian Vandenberg revealed in several interviews that he thinks Vai's flamboyant guitar playing was somewhat inappropriate, and that a more bluesy approach would have suited the album better.[14] Adrian Vandenberg was credited as a major co-songwriter, while Steve Vai was credited with "fulfilling all guitar responsibilities" on the album, and appeared in all the band's music videos. In this case, Vandenberg would not appear to play in any recording Whitesnake albums until he finally appeared on the next upcoming 1997 release, Restless Heart.

Most of the backing vocals are by Tommy Funderburk and Mr. Mister lead singer Richard Page; Coverdale's friend and former Deep Purple bandmate Glenn Hughes contributed backing vocals to three songs.[15] Once again, keyboardist Don Airey, along with session musicians Claude Gaudette and David Rosenthal, was brought in to do some keyboard parts, but just like with Hughes, much of his material didn't make the final cut of the album.

Release and promotion[edit]

Slip of the Tongue was released on 7 November 1989 in the United States by Geffen Records, then released worldwide (particularly in Europe) six days later by EMI. It was later received a Japanese release on 18 November 1989 by CBS/Sony. The original album spawned three singles. "Fool for Your Loving '89" was released in October 1989 while "The Deeper the Love" and "Now You're Gone" were released in 1990. "Judgement Day" did not receive a single release, rather, it was made solely as a radio airplay. The single B-Side of the album, "Sweet Lady Luck" was released in 1990, only to be re-released in 1994 for the Greatest Hits promotion.

Liquor and Poker tour[edit]

The Liquor & Poker world tour for the album was the biggest the band had undertaken yet, including their third appearance & second headlining of the famous Castle Donington Monsters of Rock festival on 18 August 1990. The performance was later released as Live at Donington 1990 on 20 May 2011 on Frontiers. The band embarked on the tour at Fairfax Patriot Center (later named EagleBank Arena), Fairfax, Virginia on 2 February 1990. The tour had come to an end on 26 September 1990 at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan, at which point Coverdale disbanded Whitesnake indefinitely for three years and took a break from the music business until late 1991 when he started to work with Jimmy Page, which resulted in the 1993 album Coverdale•Page.


Slip Of The Tongue: 20th Anniversary Edition was released in May 2009 as a two-disc remastered version with slightly modified running order and ten bonus tracks. There is also a single disc version with just the remastered, re-sequenced tracks and no bonus material.

A 30th Anniversary Edition box set was reissued by Rhino in October 2019, including a newly remastered version of the album as well as other recordings and videos. The B-Side single, "Sweet Lady Luck" received a promotional video release before the album's official second reissue.[16]

Commercial performance[edit]

Slip of the Tongue peaked at No. 10 on the US Billboard 200 chart and spent a total of 34 weeks there. It was made as a US second Top 10 and the final album hit there. The album also charted at No. 10 in the UK Albums chart running for a consecutive 8 weeks there, only to re-appear for two more weeks on 1 September 1990. It also charted at No. 12 in Japanese chart, No. 18 in the Canadian chart, No. 39 in the Australian chart (ARIA), No. 9 in the Norway chart, No. 11 in the Sewden chart, No. 11 in Switzerland chart, No. 9 in the New Zeland chart, and No. 19 in the Germany chart. The album cracked the top spot in Finland charts, making it the only album in the band's discography to do so, also the only country to debut at No.1. By the end of the week on 17 October 2019, the 30th Anniversary reissue eventually re-charted in the UK consecutively at No.7 on Rock & Metal Albums Chart, No. 43 on Scottish Albums, No. 55 on Album Sales, and No. 50 on Physical Albums.

Sales of the album were only over 4 million copies worldwide as of August 1990, only half of the previous album sold in the US (8 million copies) alone.[17] In a commercial outlook, Slip of the Tongue was considered a commercial disappointment. Coverdale stated that within four days after its release, over 1.2 million records were sold in America. In retrospect, the album was only certified in three countries. In the United Kingdom, it was certified gold by BPI in just four days after its UK release, selling over 100,000 copies. The album achieved platinum American RIAA certification status on 17 January 1990, while it also managed to be certified gold by Japan (RIAJ) on August 1992.

Reception, music and lyrics[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideD[19]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal7/10[20]
MusicHound Rock[21]
Rolling Stone[22]

The album was met with mixed reactions, with many saying the album's sound was too far from the original Whitesnake-sound. David Coverdale himself has also seen the album as one of the weakest in the band's catalogue, but has since found somewhat of an appreciation for it. He summed his feelings up by saying:

For a long time, I felt the album lacked a certain Whitesnake feel in the music, but, countless people thro' the years have assured me that they enjoyed and enjoy the album, nonetheless. So, now I happily accept it as a significant part of the Whitesnake catalogue and to be honest, I enjoy it more now than I did back then. It was an album plagued with challenges and obstacles for me, personally, from many avenues, but hey...nobody said being successful is supposed to be easy!

Metal Rules ranked the album #38 on their list of the Top 50 Glam Metal Albums.[2]

In-depth track-by-track meaning[edit]

In the album's 30th anniversary "The Wagging Tongue" interview with Coverdale and Vai recorded in 1989 led by Phil Easton, Coverdale revealed the opening track for "Slip of the Tongue" was originally titled, "Dominatrix Blues."

To speak about how the title got changed and came through its main idea for the title of the record, David Coverdale stated:

"I think the first time that Adrian and I sat down, all we did is we looked at what we felt, Whitesnake was missing, in terms of tempos and styles. Adrian was a "snake" fan and has been from the beginning, his finger on the pulse of what Whitesnake was about [...] we needed an "a hundred miles an hour" track, you know for the live show. The idea of the lyric is this very powerful woman instead of the man being, all that butch stuff that usually hard rock and heavy metal purports to be. This is the women is stronger, they fare very well on this album."

Coverdale then talks behind the meaning of "Cheap an' Nasty" saying:

"'Cheap an' Nasty' was a kind of marriage of "Slide It In" & "Slow Poke Music," a very sexy little piece of Whitesnake stuff I think, and that's one of the major tongue-in-cheek. [...] We've been coming off very strong, very positively, it's a very optimistic & positive album, even the blues is temperate (moderate) in the dark, darker side."

He then mentioned that it was Kiaten's favorite track on the album.

In retrospect of the re-recording for "Fool for Your Loving", according to the 20th-anniversary liner notes of the album, Coverdale comments:

"I was mortified when I allowed myself to be talked into letting Geffen release the re-recorded version of "Fool for Your Loving", instead of "Judgement Day" as the first one out of the box to promote the album... I knew radio would be all over "Judgement Day" just from the market research we did back then... but, Kalodner, Rosenblatt, Marco Babineau, my manager and some of our radio people, all people whose opinions I trusted, came down to the Record Plant when I was finishing off the album and all confronted me with what they felt was the way to go... that it would be a mistake to go with "Judgement Day"... Not only I but the band were really upset about that decision... I've regretted it ever since... I have no doubt it was Kalodner's idea, thinking we could achieve the same as we'd had with the re-recorded "Here I Go Again"... Anyway...they were wrong and so was I to go along with it... Another hard lesson learned... Stick to your guns if you believe in it...It's the only way..."

David Coverdale revealed that the band did attempt to re-visit some of the older tracks in the Whitesnake discography, such as "Ain't Gonna Cry No More" (from Ready an' Willing), "We Wish You Well" (from Lovehunter), and "Burning Heart" (from Vandenberg's eponymous album). Given how the original "Fool for Your Loving" was given for, he commented:

"'Fool for Your Loving' was originally written for B. B. King when he was working with "The Crusaders." [...] You have the band cut the demo, I was sitting there listening to it again, and I said, "Oh, just a second, can you try that again and crunch the guitars a little more?" And I went, "I think we should hang on to this," and that became our first international hit."

Coverdale then expressed how he believed his performance on the original version of "Fool for Your Loving" was botched saying, "I always do my best writing songs, but then it's up to my colleagues to put the passion that the song deserves. It is a passionate song... if you listen to the original, I think the only security other than the song itself is my vocal performance... It's a very secure blues performance... but it's very bottom-light in terms of presentation and totally top-heavy, musically. There isn't the passion, the song is not given the passionate performance that it deserved, the same of "Here I Go Again" (the original 1982 version)." The same thing would apply to the past early-80s Whitesnake albums as it was written in the best that Coverdale was in that position but blatantly set lacking the passion and performance of the rest of the songs. Coverdale further said, "I honestly cannot understand how I accepted those, that particular takes, that particular performance [...] it's like overcompensating because Ian didn't play as powerfully as I know he can, maybe he had something else the track on his mind that day, you know [...] it's simply isn't good enough." He affirmed that he would plan to re-record older songs for the next upcoming "Greatest Hits" album, but neither of these came out, with the only complication of "Greatest Hits" which featured the most popular tracks from 1984 thru 1990 was released in 1994.

Coverdale claimed that he was satisfied with the track, "Now You're Gone" whisper-to-a-scream methodology part. Stating on how it was written, he said:

"That's putting myself in a situation looking if I lost this most precious woman in my life, how I would feel, because you usually blow perfect relationships by being stupid."

On the track "Kitten's Got Claws," he asserted that the song was the easiest song to sing from the album. In addition, he mentioned that the song was written for Tawny, referring to her last name calling as a "kitten." Furthermore, Coverdale spoke about its meaning, saying:

"The closest I've come to what I've think to that wonderful Chuck Berry style lyric when there's a continuing story. I love the "G-String tuned to A," and Vai just plays magnificently, it's such a signature performance. I think from beginning to end, it sounds like I'm working with a dozen alley cats, even the solo is got a whining-cat-a-alike [...] I really enjoyed that."

Coverdale then talks about the meaning of "Wings of the Storm," saying:

"I like the theme, it is a love song, but it's very optimistic. You've got the situation, now it's up to you to keep it together. If you check the lyrics:

On and on, the road goes on
And it'll go on forever
The time will show, if you and I
Will walk that road together
Heaven above us and hell below

It's all of these problems, it's when anybody sees what it looks to be a perfect relationship, they do their utmost to destroy it, and if you stick together on it, the world can come against you, and you'll be able to fight it off. But it's divided in conquer if you're not careful. [...] Some gentleman or some woman [...] it's nothing is gonna stop you being electrically charged by seeing somebody that you feel is attractive. But, you have to wave in one hand, what that particular exchange is gonna do for you, what it's worth, and how much do you stand to lose when your relationship in the other hand. And if you stand back and take that kind of perspective, I think fidelity will win."

Coverdale further states how "The Deeper the Love" was written, saying:

"It's the closest we've got to a solo R&B song. It's once again it's optimistic, it's positive, it's like look and know, I've been questionable in my past, but I've taken it all into stock and I'm glad you've stuck around, because now... I'm gonna give it my best shot, and thanks for hanging in there, I'm sorry I'm stupid at this particular time. It's gonna be the notice at the end of our love."

To explain further, Coverdale commented on the origins of the song in the 20th-anniversary edition liner notes by saying:

"'The Deeper the Love' came from a chorus sequence I'd had for some time, written, if memory serves, in my dear friend Tony Z's house, many years ago... then my little Dutch brother, Adrian, came along and put the musical icing on the cake, and gave me the verse chord sequence. I finished writing it in Tahiti [...] very early in the morning with the sun rising over the Pacific."

Coverdale stated that "Judgement Day" was referenced when he had back surgery in the spring of (April) 1988 due to a herniated disc that had to be removed caused by intensive stage performances he had encountered throughout the years. He was given a medication called, "Percodan" to relieve him from his post-operation. He said that he was in a "desensitizing condition" given the fact that he was physically and mentally worn out from that medication, even while the band was still on their marks headlining their supporting tour for the 1987 album.[23][24][25]

Coverdale talks about the meaning of "Slow Poke Music," stating:

"If you look back into David Coverdale's "Whitesnake" the very first solo album I did, you'll see "S.P. Music" on my publishing credits, which was actually "Slow Poke Music," but I had somebody who was in control of the Deep Purple company at that time who was a little too modest and thought it was too risqué, so he made it sound like it was a petroleum company. [...] It's the closest that I've come to a Hendrix style song."

To conclude the interview, Coverdale talked about the meaning of "Sailing Ships," stating:

"It's a message from me to all of you, to everybody. [...] That's your ambition. That is your fantasy. It's up to you to exercise that. Everybody has so many walls them because of this ridiculous society that we live in, y'know, you must express yourself, you have to, 'cause nobody's gonna do it for you. [...] It's like a graduation of life, someone you leave school, the ocean of the song... is life, it's your life. [...] I feel exactly the way that you do, and I found my discovery is that nobody is gonna realize my fantasies or ambitions for me, that's why I'm so ruthless on myself to do that. In the fine analysis, you're on your own, but you're actually not, a lot of people won't own up that they're in the same boat, because of whatever ridiculous mental mind games they're going through."

Track listings[edit]

All tracks are written by David Coverdale and Adrian Vandenberg, except where noted

1."Slip of the Tongue"5:20
2."Cheap an' Nasty"3:28
3."Fool for Your Loving '89" (Coverdale, Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody)4:10
4."Now You're Gone"4:11
5."Kittens Got Claws"5:00
6."Wings of the Storm"5:00
7."The Deeper the Love"4:22
8."Judgment Day"5:15
9."Slow Poke Music"3:59
10."Sailing Ships"6:02
20th Anniversary Edition bonus tracks
11."Sweet Lady Luck" (Single B-side)4:37
12."Now You're Gone" (US Single Remix)4:07
13."Fool for Your Loving" (Vai Voltage Mix)4:17
14."Judgement Day" (from Live: In the Shadow of the Blues)5:38
15."Slip of the Tongue" (from Live at Donington 1990)5:41
16."Kittens Got Claws" (from Live at Donington 1990)4:58
Total length:76:05
20th Anniversary Edition DVD
1."Fool for Your Loving '89" (Music video)4:27
2."Now You're Gone" (Music video)4:09
3."The Deeper the Love" (Music video)4:17
4."The Deeper the Love" (live, from Starkers in Tokyo)4:02
5."Sailing Ships" (live, from Starkers in Tokyo)4:06
6."Judgement Day" (from Live... In the Still of the Night)5:22
7."Slip of the Tongue" (from Live at Donington 1990)5:54
8."Kittens Got Claws" (from Live at Donington 1990)5:01
Total length:37:18
30th Anniversary Remaster
1."Slip of the Tongue"5:21
2."Kitten's Got Claws"4:46
3."Cheap an' Nasty"3:27
4."Now You're Gone"4:10
5."The Deeper the Love"4:19
6."Judgment Day"5:16
7."Sailing Ships"5:58
8."Wings of the Storm"5:00
9."Slow Poke Music"3:57
10."Fool for Your Loving"4:10
11."Sweet Lady Luck" (Single B-Side)4:33
12."Now You're Gone" (Chris Lord-Alge Single Remix)4:06
13."Fool for Your Loving" (Vai Voltage Mix)4:18
14."Slip of the Tongue" (Alternate Intro & Breakdown)4:52
15."Cheap an' Nasty" (Alternate Solo & End)3:34
16."Judgment Day" (Alternate & Extended Solos)5:31
17."Fool for Your Loving" (Alternate AOR Mix with CHR Intro)4:11
Total length:74:49



Additional musicians




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Japan (RIAJ)[47] Gold 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[48] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[49] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


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External links[edit]