Sure it’s just pop metal, but Vernon Reid’s virtuoso Hendrixisms, lyrics weighted with social consciousness, and an opening Malcolm X soundbite make this album something special. How often do you hear Malcolm X on a Whitesnake album? The big ballad (“Open Letter (To A Landlord)”) is about gentrification, the big hit song (“Cult Of Personality”) is an unusually sharp apolitical anthem, Chuck and Flavor even show up for some adlibs. I hear a lot of Eddie Van Halen in Reid’s playing as well, though I’m not sure David Lee could have pulled off lyrics like “Now you can tear a building down/But you can’t erase a memory” without hamming it up into self parody. The real revelation is their take on the Talking Heads’ “Memories Can’t Wait,” which shows just how interesting this band could be when they really broke from convention.