Review Summary: Who did you think you were, Deep Purple?4 of 4 thought this review was well written
After 6 years of touring and releasing annual albums, you'd expect Deep Purple to maybe slow down and take the time to regain some energy to stay a stable band. Sadly, this was not where Deep Purple's collective mind was at and, as a result, produces 'Who Do We Think We Are', which doesn't retain the classic feel that the previous three albums had. The title sums the album up very well; they didn't really know what they were doing, and you can tell in the general lack of energy in the performance and the fairly bland song-writing.
While the previous three Deep Purple albums had a blazing opener that kicked things off with a bang, 'Woman From Tokyo' is actually quite a refreshing change to that trend in the album starters. It isn't quite on par with 'Speed King', 'Fireball' or 'Highway Star', which may have something to do with the fact that it isn't as impressive or original instrumentally as those three songs were. Still, it's quite easily the highlight of the album and gives high expectations for the rest of the album.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album is largely mediocre; the melodic 'Super Trouper' and the funky 'Rat Bat Blue' are okay, but songs such as 'Mary Long' and 'Our Lady' just fall flat musically and for 'Mary Long', lyrically as well. I don't usually care about how good lyrics are, but 'Mary Long' is just exceptionally bad; I understand that Deep Purple are not a completely serious and sometimes puts out jokey songs like 'Anyone's Daughter', but that was actually a good, catchy song which was unique to Deep Purple's discography, while 'Mary Long' is just a drag. Even the fast paced track, 'Smooth Dancer' is just 'Speed King' without the power and when Deep Purple try out slow blues on 'Place In Line', it fails pretty massively, but it does redeem itself with a nice, long instrumental section. So, in a nutshell, this isn't that good song-wise; 'Woman From Tokyo' deceives you into thinking that this may be on the level of 'Fireball', then goes and throws those hopes out of the window with 'Mary Long', making 'No No No' look like 'Bloodsucker'.
Technically, the album actually succeeds; although Richie Blackmore has lost a lot of his great riffing skills, the guitar tone suits the album well, as it is clean, laid back and not too overpowering. Jon Lord isn't as present as he should be, but he does have some highlights, like the excellent instrumental section of 'Rat Bat Blue' which, while it has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the song, is a welcome change in pace anyway. Ian Paice delivers the best performance here; his perfectly timed fills and adaptive beats are certainly something to be proud of. Ian Gillan brings a charismatic performance as always, even if some of the vocal lines are a bit awkward. Roger Glover , though never directly in the spotlight, has some pretty good bass-lines throughout the album.
In conclusion, 'Who Do We Think We Are' is an example of a band that, from fear of irrelevance, release too many albums and, as a result, drop into a creative pit which ironically makes irrelevance a more likely possibility. While this is not Deep Purple's worst album (not when 'Slaves And Masters' exists), I can imagine people being quite worried for Deep Purple's future at this point. Luckily, they wouldn't have to worry for long, because although the next album still came a year after this one, something happened to reignite the flame that the band once had... 'Burn'!