Album Review: Bernie Marsden -Working Man

Review by Peter Coates –

Released – 24th Nov 2023
Conquest Records

There has been a huge outpouring of loving tributes to Bernie Marsden since he passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family on 24th August 2023 at the age of 72.  I was lucky enough to see Bernie as part of the classic Whitesnake line up in the late 1970s and early 80s, and also got to meet him a couple of times at shows, and he was the most un-pretentious person you could hope to meet.

Rock icon, songwriter, blues guitar hero, author, even some time actor, so many areas of expertise, but beyond these qualities, the common theme throughout the multitude of testimonials was Bernie’s huge heart and friendly demeanor.

Always approachable, never in too much of a hurry to stop and talk to fans. His warmth and wit would regale the listener with fascinating tales and amusing anecdotes from six decades at the top of his game.

Although Bernie had always worked hard and kept busy, most recently releasing 3 solo albums since 2021 in KINGS, CHESS and TRIOS as part of his Inspirations series, only a few knew that he had just completed a brand new album.  Earlier in August 2023, Bernie had approved the artwork, sequence and audio masters for Working Man, a new album of Bernie Marsden original songs, some familiar and some brand new.

Given that this is a 22-track package, this review is not going to work through each of the tracks in turn, but will pick out some of the highlights – kicking off with the superb blues-rocker of Being Famous, which has the Hammond Organ opening, the meaty blues riff, bar-room keys and Bernie’s easy vocals over the driving beat, with some tasty lead breaks.  This is the opening single off the record, and will hopefully help to lift the profile of the album prior to the release.

After the relaxed a low key blues ballads of Midtown and Longtime, the pace ramps up with some classic AOR, featuring Jamie Kyle on lead vocals with Invisible which rolls along like Pat Benatar or Romeo’s Daughter, and sees Bernie delivering some high quality and restrained soaring lead work behind the hugely catchy chorus.  

Bernie’s voice varies from track to track – and is not his strongest work on some of the songs, but does not detract from the overall feel, however the supporting backing vocals often give the melody an added boost.  Son I’ve Never Known has some wonderful plaintiff guitar work, and then the track composed about the legendary Steelhouse Festival in Wales gives us a superbly-crafted instrumental track representing Bernie’s love of the festival.  Steelhouse Mountain has some intricate acoustic guitar work, reminiscent of Steve Howe or Alex Lifeson, and is a welcome diversion that demonstrates a different side of Bernie’s dexterity.

Working Man has a familiar chord progression in the verse, and an overall pretty mellow feel, and some arpeggios behind the vocals that add to the layers and increase the texture of the musical canvas being displayed.   The keyboards and backing vocals come to the fore as the song progresses, and there is some crisp drumming throughout.

Bernie has come up with a ripper of a riff for Valentine’s Day, and the supporting cast delivers some more great backing woo-woos, while a classy Bernie solo sits over the driving rhythm guitar.  His voice ramps up a notch just prior to the brisk solo, and rolls through another harmony-filled chorus to the close, punctuated by some more lovely melodic guitar work.  Savannah is another gentle ballad, while Bad Reputation has more of a gritty feel to it, and while Bernie does a great job on the vocals, it would be great to have heard DC do this in his prime.  The ladies doing the backing vocals add another dimension, and the pre-chorus is divine.  Bernie delivers one of the finest solos on the record here, if too short, and this would have been a cracker of a song live.

The main record heads to a close with another relaxed track in You Know, with Bernie’s vocals interspersed with guitar breaks, followed by the instrumental of The Pearl, which has a soporific feel to it, signing off the record with a whimper rather than a bang.  High-quality guitar work from start to finish nonetheless.

The extra set kicks off with one of my all-time favourite Marsden tracks in Look At Me Now, from his second solo album, and this is a brand new version.  The riff is meatier, and the lead breaks more piercing. Bernie rolls back the years with his vocals too, and this really packs a punch, including the hard-driving outro and the epic solo over the top, while the band heads into overdrive.  Midnight Believer has a funkier blues vibe, and is all about the lead guitar work, and as a tribute to BB King who Bernie first met in 1978 when writing a piece for SOUNDS.

Who’s Fooling Who is another reworking from that solo album, and Bernie smashes out this all-time riff, with some epic Hammond Organ, transporting us back to the Trouble and Come & Get It era Whitesnake – the track having featured on some outtakes with Coverdale singing.  This is just a signature rock riff from Bernie, and the production has added some depth and grit to this one.  Track of the album in my opinion!

A couple more in Just Don’t Have The Time and Foolish Day are up next, and while the latter starts off pretty low-key, it just builds and builds over a tight, punchy back beat, and Bernie allows the guitar to do all the talking – such an expressive extended solo over the instrumental melody.

From the Saints & Sinners album, we get Here I Go Again, written by Coverdale and Marsden, and this time presented in a purer Bernie Marsden mode, all clean and delicate guitars, and a slower pace than the Whitesnake version.  This is followed up by a new version of the absolute classic that the Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City – the 1974 Bobby Bland cover written by Michael Price and Dan Walsh that Whitesnake made their own as a killer live showstopper.  This is delivered as a straight up blues ballad here, and loses nothing from the less powerful rendition.

We get a new version of David Coverdale’s Till The Day I Die Whitesnake track from Come an’Get It that later became a standard for Bernie with Micky Moody, and sees some tasty acoustic guitar work, and then gets boosted into the full-band version.  Then it’s a country-rock version of The Time Is Right For Love, written with Micky and DC, and given a facelift through this fresh re-working.  

The whole package closes with a belter of an old-school blues track that Bernie and Micky Moody had done together – Robert Johnson’s Come On In My Kitchen – and this is quite different from much of the rest of the record – featuring some dark violin work that provides an intense feel to the track.  

For all fans of Bernie Marsden’s work, this is a must-have collection, featuring brand new material as well as some interesting re-workings of classic compositions, but should not be seen as a Greatest Hits package in any way.  These are all new recordings, produced by Bernie and mixed by Dave Eringa (The Who / Manic Street Preachers / Gyroscope and many more), and are a fitting headstone to the life and work of one of Britain’s foremost Blues / Rock guitarists of the past 50 years.

Bernie had his own band before he joined UFO in 1972, and then played with Cozy Powell and in Babe Ruth in the mid-1970’s, before teaming up with Jon Lord and Ian Paice in Paice Ashton Lord for their one album.  After that, it was the start of Whitesnake, and his 5 years with that band stand to many as their best musical era.   Bernie’s two superb solo albums were recorded in this period as well.  On leaving Whitesnake, he formed Alaska and worked with Micky Moody among others, before returning to classic Blues with his Green & Blues record in 1994, as a tribute to John Mayall’s various guitarists.

From then on, it has been more about the blues, interspersed with playing for Elkie Brooks and Ringo Starr, with album releases as tributes to Rory Gallagher before the trilogy of classic Blues collections, Kings, Chess and Trios in 2021 and 2022.

The music industry and the world of blues guitar has lost another superb practitioner, and a jolly nice chap to boot!  Vale Bernie Marsden!

Working Man will be available initially as a limited edition 2CD Digipak and 2LP set in Burgundy vinyl.  These limited edition sets will also include a bonus disc of 10 more new recordings alongside the 12 track Working Man album.  These bonus tracks include some astonishing reinterpretations of classic Whitesnake songs.

Useful Links:






Who’s Fooling Who (feat David Coverdale) –

Being Famous –

Track Listing

Disc One
1 Being Famous
2 Midtown
3 Longtime
4 Invisible
5 Son I’ve Never Known
6 Steelhouse Mountain
7 Working Man
8 Valentine’s Day
9 Savannah
10 Bad Reputation
11 You Know
12 The Pearl

Disc Two (Bonus Disc)
1 Look At Me Now
2 Midnight Believer
3 Who’s Fooling Who
4 Just Don’t Have The Time
5 Foolish Day
6 Here I Go Again
7 Ain’t No Love In The Heart of The City
8 Til The Day I Die
9 Time Is Right For Love
10 Come On In My Kitchen