VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS – Rugged and Unplugged
Following two strong and highly enjoyable records, Vandenberg’s Moonkings have returned with yet another one. However, the eight-track offering entitled "Rugged and Unplugged" is totally different to its two predecessors. As its title suggests, we are dealing with acoustic renditions of various tracks from Adrian Vandenberg’s back catalogue, which includes Teaser and Whitesnake. The sparse and somewhat minimalistic arrangements work quite well and the way in which Adrian’s gentle and heartfelt playing blends with Jan Hoving’s strong and booming voice is a treat to listen to. Everything sounds crisp, clear, and organic, almost as if Hoving and Vandenberg were sitting right in front of you performing these compositions.
The slightly more melancholy tunes definitely work best here and "Sailing Ships", "Out of Reach", "Burning Heart", and "Walk Away" stand out and come across as more moving and deep than the remaining cuts on the disc. "Sailing Ships" in particular sounds absolutely riveting and touching, just as the original one by Whitesnake did, but in a more introspective way. The two last songs on the album, namely "Breathing" and "Sundown", seem a bit redundant and pale in comparison to the other ones. However, "Rugged and Unplugged" is ultimately a satisfying and interesting release. If nothing else, it shows a different side to Vandenberg’s Moonkings and is a cool album that any fan of the band (or Whitesnake and Teaser for that matter) ought to check out. Given that it is only 27 minutes long, it does not exactly outstay its welcome or bore the listener.