To the casual listener, Deep Purple are simply that band that "wrote than one guitar riff." In fact, walk up to any random person and hum the opening riff to Smoke on the Water
and they will instantly recognize it. Maybe half will actually know Deep Purple wrote it, and even fewer will actually have listened to the band.
But to true fans of Classic Rock, Metal, Hard Rock and everything in between Deep Purple stand as a pillar in the foundation of metal. Those who purchase any of their classic records will be treated to lightning fast guitar and organ duels, pounding drum and bass grooves, and overwrought screaming vocals. For over thirty years now, Deep Purple has seen the ups and downs of a rising, falling, and reunited classic lineup never failing to cater to their own brand of virtuoso, even Progressive tinged hard rock. But in 2005, listeners may not have the highest hopes as to whether the band can pull off a good album, especially with the departure of staple members Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore. But fear not, because the boys are back with a vengeance; playing like they were twenty.
In the early nineties, guitar god Ritchie Blackmore left the band to pursue his career in Blackmore's Night, a Renaissance themed acoustic band. To fill the void he left, the band called upon the services of Steve Morse, previously of Dixie Dregs fame. Over tens years later, Morse plays with the band like he'd been there since the start. Also, on the bands past two albums two albums, the familiar presence of Jon Lord was missing on the organ. To fill his shows, the band brought in seasoned session musician Don Airy who proves himself more than worthy of his job.
But it was never the individual performances of Blackmore and Lord that made them such great players, it was the way they fueled off each other, trading solos at every turn. Morse and Airy, thankfully, prove that they have just as much chemistry as their previous counterparts.
So hows the rest of the band? The three surviving members of the Mark II (or classic) lineup are all present and are all up to their usual standards. Ian Gillan, who is easily one of the biggest contesters for my favorite singer of all time, sounds incredible. He's a bit rough around the edges and can't quite hit the same high notes he once could, but he's lost none of his passion and zeal screaming like theres no tomorrow on many tracks. Ian Pace's familiar presence comes through, pounding out his classic drumbeats. Roger Glover, also, plays like always keeping the band grounded with his excellent basslines.
The albums opener Money Talks
begins with an eiri intro reminiscent of Perfect Strangers
before exploding into a patent riff with Gillan's crooning vocals. With a memorable chorus and nice guitar solo, its obvious that the band isn't messing around and even in their late fifties can still bust out better hard rock than almost anyone else.
The next track, Girls Like That
is a bit of a cliche, despite featuring a memorable bassline, and typical soloing from Morse and Airy. But with lyrics that play out like a Hitchcock flick, Wrong Man
rides a strong riff to create one of the albums most satisfying songs.
The title track, however is easily the albums highlight. With a middle eastern groove, wonderful singing with an incredibly catchy chorus from Gillian and Morse and Airy at their finest this is definitely the work of an inspired band.
Clearly Quite Absurd
is an uncharacteristically soft Ballad, something Deep Purple were never known for making. But it soon proves to be another highlight, with emotional singing, and powerful, yet soothing piano and guitar lines. Don't Let Go
brings the band back to their traditional sound with a catchy riff from Morse and Airy.
The same can be said for the next two tracks, Back to Back
and Kiss Tommorow Goodbye
which are both catchy rockers with traditional Gillan singing, and Paice drumming. Morse and Airy continue to show off at every turn (Back to Back
features a very cool solo from Airy on the Moog.)
is Gillan's clever attack at the bland offerings dished out by many Classic Rock radio Stations, with lyrics that manage to protest the overplaying of Smoke on the Water and the relative stupidity of disk jockeys who attempted to interview Gillan and Glover.
is another track to show off Morse and Airy's considerable talent, with great piano and guitar solos. Unfortunately, the albums closer, Before Time Began
might be my least favorite song on the album with rather bland playing and singing, despite some cool crashendoing riffs and solos.
Overall, for anyone sitting on the fence as to buying this album, I'd say definitely cough up the cash and buy it. But for those who don't already prescribe to Deep Purples sound, this isn't for you. For the real fans, though, don't wait a minute the band is back like they've been playing their whole lives (which, incidentally, they have.)