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.

Singer David Coverdale’s hard-rocking blues sextet was 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. They'd become established stars in their U.K. homeland, as well as throughout Europe and even in Japan 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. Whitesnake’s previous album, 1980's Ready an’ Willing, had shown some signs of life, climbing to No. 90. Come an’ Get It didn't come anywhere close to that.

MTV hadn't started introducing music fans to enticing visuals on a mass scale; the game-changing cable network didn't launch until a few months after this record's release. Still, the States’ musical temperature was beginning to rise to unprecedented heights of excess and bombast.

Listen to Whitesnake Perform 'Child of Babylon'

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 for proof: The dramatic “Child of Babylon” inhabited a place and time somewhere between Rainbow’s “Gates of Babylon” and Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying.”

Elsewhere, 1981 was ruled by polished forward-looking AOR records like Journey’s Escape, Foreigner’s 4 and REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity. So, while Whitesnake’s career prospects showed nothing but positive growth back home and elsewhere, they 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. That, in turn, seemed to ignite Coverdale’s ambitions to juice up their sound to cater to stateside audiences. Most of his original Whitesnake bandmates would be replaced by younger members before decade’s end.
 
 

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