Review Summary: Just when we believed they were alive once more, they fell down again...Deep Purple: A Retrospective
Episode XVIII: Abandon
In 1994, Deep Purple had been fortified with guitarist Steve Morse’s broad platter of skills, and two years after the new formation was complete, Mark VII put out the daringly experimental (at least for the band’s standards) Purpendicular
, which came to a surprisingly good end as far as quality is concerned. Following their demise in the 80’s and Blackmore’s final leave however, the foundations of Purple’s fan base had been shaken. Luckily for the more hardcore of followers, the band still proudly stood up, trying to provide quality releases. Their next attempt at this was Abandon
, released in 1998. It was also to be the last release to be recorded with organist Jon Lord, who had been there since the band’s very humble beginnings, and had helped to shape a immense part of Purple’s sound. Choosing to focus on composing, he took the tough decision of departing and left drummer Ian Pace as only founding member. His eventual replacement would be Don Airey, who is still with the band as of today.
Deep Purple Mk. VII was:
- Ian Gillan ~ Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
- Steven J. Morse ~ Lead Guitar
- Roger David Glover ~ Bass Guitar
- Jon Douglas Lord ~ Keyboards, Organ
- Ian Anderson Pace ~ Drums
has two sides to it. One of those sides shows the Deep Purple of Purpendicular
; the refreshing sounding, revitalized band. The other and most dominant side, however, is less of a treat, and is rather new Deep Purple trying to be old Deep Purple again, with results that are mostly recycled and poorly executed.
Still, the boys recreate some of their original energy on a few occasions. The most notable of these are the catchy old-school rockers Almost Human
, of which the former especially satisfies because of Morse’s excellent abilities. It is in too many tracks though, that there is so much lack of a powerful deliverance the album’s listener will quickly grow bored. The first half’s letdowns still have some interesting features, such as the loud-soft dynamics and guitar solo on Don’t Make Me Happy
, the classic guitar-organ interplay of Mark II on Seventh Heaven
and the dreamy sequences on Watching The Sky
, but make for no more than decent tracks.
It is most of the second half then, where things truly go wrong. Jack Ruby
and She Was
are both a rather laughable event at the band recalling the funk energy of Burn
, and by the time we’ve gotten to Evil Louie
, which borders on decent, our listening attention has vanished into oblivion, which is too bad considering there is some rather good material to be found on Abandon
. The track that feels most out of place is the closer Bludsucker
, a re-recording of the excellent In Rock
, recorded almost 30 years (!) earlier. The instrumentation doesn’t sound all that different despite that Morse now plays instead of Blackmore, and the vocals have logically only gotten worse. The purpose it serves remains completely unclear.
The moment where Abandon
comes closest to touching the feel of Purpendicular
is the ballad Fingers to the Bone
, which is led by the most original guitar work on the entire album, a folkish tone that works tremendously well with the track. Once again, Morse shows his diversity. The only other track borrowing from the band’s previous album is opener Any Fule Kno That
, which tries to be as good as Ted the Mechanic
was. It gets on the repetitive side, but it’s still catchy.
Unfortunately, the feeling that ultimately dominates Abandon
is a disappointing one. Unable to recapture the fresh approach of Purpendicular
, it sees Deep Purple sinking into what may have been the inevitable. Most tracks are decent, that cannot be denied, but it is a lack of songs that go above that level that puts this effort down a notch. Sadly enough, Abandon
is a rather average release.
Fingers to the Bone
Any Fule Kno That