Review Summary: One of the better examples of a reunion album.Deep Purple: A Retrospective
Episode XIII: Perfect Strangers
Although Mark III had brought Deep Purple new success when their classic line-up fell apart, the band’s final composition in the 70’s, Mark IV, led to their ultimate ending, making for a short but mostly successful career from 1968 to 1976. Ritchie Blackmore had since 1974 left to form Rainbow
, and was joined by Roger Glover later. Ian Gillan was involved with Black Sabbath
and his solo career. Jon Lord and David Coverdale were now in Whitesnake
, Glenn Hughes continued various projects, Ian Pace joined the Gary Moore
band, and Tommy Bolin had passed away at age 25 by a drug overdose.
And still, a reunion of the classic Mark II was what followed. In 1984, Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord and Pace returned from their respective projects and created what was first deemed impossible. A money-grabbing attempt? Maybe. As is well-known, Mark II didn’t exactly get along well with each other. Nevertheless, the reception to Deep Purple’s first album in 8 years, Perfect Strangers
, was fantastic by fans, and mostly positive by critics.
Deep Purple Mk. II was:
- Ian Gillan ~ Vocals
- Richard Hugh Blackmore ~ Lead Guitar
- Roger David Glover ~ Bass Guitar
- Jon Douglas Lord ~ Keyboards, Organ
- Ian Anderson Pace ~ Drums
The album will immediately invoke feelings of nostalgia if you are familiar with classic Mark II material. The band has obviously aged and sounds a bit more restrained here, but nevertheless impressive. The change in Gillan’s vocals is obviously most notable. He sounds a bit more nasal than during his prime in the 70’s, but still manages to put down a very catchy performance. Lord’s keyboard melodies are not as swift as before either, but make up for it with flavour. Blackmore and his Stratocaster are still a force of nature, and the man delivers those riffs and bluesy solos that are typical of him like he’s never even been away.
The material featured on Perfect Strangers is mostly quality work. The sexual innuendo-packed and catchy opener Knocking At Your Back Door
, the slow-galloping rhythm section that drives the title track and the superb guitar and keyboard melodies that lead the straight-out rock ‘n roll track Gypsy’s Kiss
are among the best moments on the album. Variation is aplenty, with the heavily organ-driven Under the Gun
, the slower blues moment on Wasted Sunsets
with two classic solos from the master himself. While Nobody’s Home
is mainly vocal-driven, it contains that old-fashioned Blackmore-Lord duelling we missed a lot. Hungry Daze
makes for one of the lesser moments on the album for its lack of momentum but has those eastern-flavoured keyboard melodies reminiscent of Rainbow’s Gates of Babylon
Most of all, what we hear here is a band that really wishes to go for it at their reunion, providing us with nostalgic material that doesn’t quite copy their early 70’s output, showing still new sides of creativity. Perfect Strangers
is definitely not a simple move made for paying the bills, but rather one of the better examples of a reunion album. Deep Purple maintain their classic sound and creates enough variety to provide us with an excellent, solid album, and it is recommended to check this out after Mark II (pre-reunion) and III.
Knocking At Your Back Door