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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Must Have" Album,
This review is from: Mr. Universe (Audio CD)Finally re-released on CD! Long overdue for old rockers like myself, Mr. Universe was the album that really started it all for Mr. Gillan.
Honest-to-goodness rock from 1979, there isn't a filler track on this album. I grew up with this stuff and it would be fair to say that it's dated - except that it hasn't. In today's world of manufactured pop, this album is as refreshing now as is was almost 30 years ago.
Buy it and buy the other albums that have been re-released. Get a crate of beer in, sit back in your favourite armchair, enjoy the whole lot and thank Mr. Gillan for letting this lot out into the public domain once again.
What more can I say? Highly recommended!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PURPLE WITHOUT GILLAN, WHO CARES? GET THIS!!!!!!!!,
This review is from: Mr. Universe (Audio CD)The legendary Ian Gillan had a few jobs after leaving Deep Purple, going from being a car salesman to reviving his musical career with a superb jazz rock outfit, the creativly named "Ian Gillan Band". However, it was with the (even more creativly titled) "Gillan" band that he returned to his hard rock roots.
Bringing on board legendary bald and bearded bass player John Mccoy (later of samson), drummer Mick Underwood, Irish guitar wizard Bernie Torme and former "Ian Gillan Band" keyboard player Colin Towns, gave "Gillan" a distinct sound, one akin to classic Deep Purple material but with a more exciting and ethereal atmosphere.
This is their debut album, and in my opinion it greatly eclipses anything Deep Purple did without Ian Gillan
It begins with the deceptively euphoric and calm instrumental " Second Sight", which all of a sudden blasts into the unexpected high speed thrash metal assault of "Secret Of The Dance", a song way ahead of its time, played at a speed rarely heard in 1979, and predating speed metal by about 4 years. Its a no holds barred statement of intent, featuring the keyboard/guitar battles that would become a trademark of "Gillan's" sound on future albums. The bluesy "She Tears Me Down" is next, followed by the blistering riff fest that is "Roller".
Now we reach something truly incredible..... the title track "Mr Universe". It creeps in with a highly melodic keyboard hook, and kicks into fast paced six minute epic in which Gillan questions the very nature of our existance. Its the jewel in the albums crown, and one of the finest tracks to ever be graced by Ian's voice. The next three tracks, "Puget Sound", "Dead of Night" and "Message in a Bottle" all display the bands perfectly crafted commercial side, each having single potential, while the album closer "Fighting Man" fittingly rounds off procedings in an epic fashion.
The bonus tracks included are mostly recorded live at the 1981 Reading Festival, and event which became a yearly home for the band, and feature an excellent version of the Purple classic "Smoke On The Water".
All in all this is an incredible album by a criminally forgotten band, who during their short existance created a run of near perfect albums, and had a very respectable amount of chart sucess in the uk. Its a very rare album, and you'll probably pay through your nose to get it on cd, but its well worth it.
All Ian Gillan and Deep Purple fans should own this..... so if you can, buy it!!!!!
I've never understood the cover though..............................
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...yer actual 5 star Gillan album...accept no substitute,
This review is from: Mr. Universe (Audio CD)I've never really got Gillan in his main day job - you know, the Deep Purple thing. Don't get me wrong, I love Deep Purple, but it's the post Gillan albums that get me hot under the collar. Which meant that back when I was a callow teenage boy, the notion of the Ian Gillan Band never got me worked up. But in my usual illogical manner, I had warmed to the IGB albums, a sound that prodded me in the direction of jazz rock and all its wonders. Now remember, this was back in ye olde days and the idea of import albums never crossed my schoolboy head. So the first I knew that the IGB was now Gillan was when "Mr Universe" was released. I didn't buy it immediately as money was tight and there were Whitesnake singles to be bought from Ezy Ryder, but when I did nothing, nothing had prepared me for the utter magnificence of those ten tracks. To this day it remains the finest album Mr Gillan has ever put his name too and if you have any pretence to liking adventurous hard rock then you simply have to own it. It's augmented here by a rambling live in the studio B-side of 'Smoke In The Water' but nothing can spoil the wonders of 'She Tears Me Down', 'Fighting Man' and more. An actual 5 star album!
Continues on Glory Road
As reissue packages, these are well done, although there is absolutely nothing new or unreleased on offer for the serious collector. But it will save me digging through the crates of vinyl, something that makes life a whole lot easier, and with brief notes from Ian Gillan with each one alongside the lyrics and plentiful photos, Edsel have done a bang up job.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious!,
This review is from: Mr. Universe (Audio CD)I discovered this album after Glory Road was released, being a 15 year old at school back then Gillan became my first 'band' fixation. I loved the 'Trouble' single and the accompanying 'live' tracks 'Vengeance' and 'Mr Universe' in a great gatefold sleeve with Gillan rocking Friday night at the Reading Festival.
Inquisative as I was, I searched the local record store for where these songs came from. 'Mr Universe' popped up and was swiftly purchased. It's been a love affair ever since!
This to me is Gillan at the're very best, released in 1979 on Acrobat Records, a little known label, after another change in personnel where Liam Genocky and Steve Byrd were replaced by Mick Underwood (who originally recommended Ian for Deep Purple) and the brilliant guitarist Bernie Torme were drafted in.
The result was a fantastic live feel to the songs that are expertly penned by, in my opinion Ian's best co-writer Colin Towns. 'The Secret Of The Dance' 'Dead Of Night''Vengeance''Message In A Bottle' and 'Roller' are all re-recorded versions of these songs that appeared on what Gillan fans have come to regard as 'The Japanese Album'. The total classic 'Fighting Man' was left alone and you hear the original in all it's glory.
The new songs for this release include another Towns composition 'She Tears Me Down' a song we can all relate too! The opening instrumental peice 'Second Sight' used to introduce the band onto the stage at every live show (went to see them 5 times!) and still has the power to raise the hairs on the back of my neck! 'Puget Sound' is a great slow and mellow tilt at fooling around with more than willing groupies! The title track deals with the unfathomable infinity of the Universe, a subject that has puzzled even the greatest minds over the centuries and not the muscule competition entered by the likes of Mr Schwarznegger!
If you want to get into Ian's solo work then here is where you must start, it's a total classic from start to finish. Acrobat Records went out of business shortly after this was released so the record reached No.11 in the charts, hung around for 6 weeks and then dissappeared forever!
Well it's been revived and to make things even better we finally get to hear the brilliant 'live in the studio' reworking of 'Smoke On The Water' originally the b-side to 'Vengeance' and never before released on CD, along with new sleeve notes by Ian this is a must have for the serious collector.
It would have been nice to have 'Street Theatre' and 'Move With The Times' included, which can be found on expensive Japanese versions of 'Mr Universe' or the CD version of 'The Japanese Album' but hey ho never mind!! Purchase and enjoy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Aka Garth Rocket,
This review is from: Mr. Universe (Audio CD)No detailed track reviews, here, oh, no; that would be almost banal and in the face of such truly spellbinding genius, banality seems trite to the point of insulting so in keeping with the conscious stream so characteristic of this musical hero of mine, a blurting of heart felt proportions seems far more appropriate.
To many, 1979 was a period of snowy, economic malaise but in a small corner of England, it was to this listener, an era of overflowing, unfettered hard and heavy rocking nectar.
The late, great Thomas Vance would, of a late, Friday eve, pump out a wonderfully diverse selection of well trodden plus formative metallic genres, to remind us from whence we hailed and to where we might be headed.
Steve Harris & Co were de facto leaders in a vanguard of musical deliverance which was frantically suggesting a new direction in which to aim our willfully thrashing heads with a series of inspirational if somewhat gory, vinyl art works but the music was compelling: Sanctuary; Women In Uniform, etc.
Of course, none of this was a sop to appreciation of the spectacular body of planet flattening, rock orchestration that had been growling into shape since about 1968, from the seminal triumvirate of Purple, Sabbath and Zeppelin, through spin offs, distant cousins plus allies from overseas and thus, the likes of Blue Oyster Cult, Uriah Heep, UFO, Scorpions, Rainbow, 'Snake, Van Halen, Nazareth and a frankly exhaustive list of venerable members, proceeded to kick out the jams with a decade of little reported but seismically phenomenal standards.
Yet sitting here, attempting to effect a day's toil with the Mr. Universe CD spinning away through the audio system, I am close to tears.
The man whose unique, clearly inspirational vocal style has always been refused classical distinction by the establishment, had walked away from one third of the original heavy rocking maelstrom in 1973; surely he could never reprise anything remotely close, not so much in style but sheer flair and originality, alone?
I hadn't listened to the lp in donkeys and had lost the CD some years back which looking back, was probably during an intimate concert by our man's alter ego in the north east.
The weeping is not just as a direct result of hearing something that always hit the sweet spot, historically but in no small part due to the realization of the obscurity in such rampaging brilliance that stands a depressing chance of total extinction as we few, we merry band, shuffle off this mortal coil because let's face it, with old TV's passing and occasional stand in Alan 'Fluff' Freeman probably pop picking in Valhalla these days, who the chundering gherkin is going to replay this material?
As it stands, Mr. Universe is one of those quirky footnotes in the history of rock and substantial roll that will be completely forgotten by the heathen marketeers who see the 70s as Glam and T Rex with the odd segue to Floyd and an old Top of The Pops theme tune.
Apologies, the babble froths but this is passionate stuff; how can I better precis the sentiments?
Well put it this way, you stumble into the lounge on a Saturday evening; spouses and offspring have that unholy show that shall not be named blowing away through the idiot lantern and you briefly suffer the horror of yet another pipe cleaner trouser wearing, pretty boy clone with idiot tattoos from a home county trying to sound like something they are not, from the west coast of some foreign continent and then, even worse, you witness the audiences' wafer thin explosion of emotional appreciation and the regimented commentary from a row of expert panelists for whom the orgasmic coda of Schenker's journey during 'Rock Bottom' would almost certainly be swept into casual dismissal as "a racket."
To paraphrase Malcolm Dome, "we are not one of them."
Mr. Universe transcends music; it is a beacon of hope, a shaft of creative majesty so brilliant that I need to find Ian Gillan; find him, shake his hand and just say "thanks, matey (lend us a quid?")
I beseech you, if you have ever been swept away by a classic piece of heavy duty rock classicism and not experienced Gillan, buy this album.
Like Tony Iommi without Osbourne or Dio, solo projects, sometimes, can yield gold...
4.0 out of 5 stars An Old Flame,
This review is from: Mr. Universe (Audio CD)I can remember picking this up in the local record shop (remember them?) and thinking "is this more of the jazz rock or something else?" I didn't buy it straight away but the owner proffered up Vengeance on a 45. Within a few bars I bought Mr Universe and the single as Smoke lurked on the B side.
Now I have finally got around to getting a replacement on CD and the album is as vibrant and fresh as it ever was.
Second Sight lures you in gently before Secret Of The Dance smashes your skull in, a fast pace rocker which I have to admit took me completely by surprise in 1979. She Tears Me Down follows and this is a great mid tempo with a sultry piano solo thrown in to the mix with Torme's howling fender strat.
Roller is another fast rocker with prominent Torme guitar and Towns, fairly rollicking along until the repeat ending. And then we have one of the album stand out moments, the title track is an absolute mind bender punctuated by a magical keyboard riff, some runaway drumming and more howling from Torme's strat. This is a classic track worthy of anyone's top ten favourite songs.
Swiftly followed by crackler in Vengeance the album has by now slayed any doubters as to the direction this band is going in, pure rock.
Puget Sound is a bit off the wall compared to the rest but somehow fits in with its USA road trip inspired lyrics and country-rock style slide and a sledgehammer chorus. Chugging along after is Dead of Night, driven by McCoy's plodding baseline. Great stuff. Message In A Bottle is the last fast past head banger leaving you breathless.
The original album finishes with the original "Japanese Album" version of Fighting Man. If Gillan felt Torme's style wouldn't suit this song I don't know but this is a fantastic final song (as was) on the album which leaves the listener stunned at the quality.
But on this re-release there is something else to beat your aural senses, a live-in-the-studio unique rampage through Smoke On The Water. A great version although not as good as the MKII Purple renditions a worthy successor and atmospheric.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gillan Rocks!,
This review is from: Mr. Universe (Audio CD)For me, this is one of my all time classic rock albums. It is the first of Ian Gillans 'heavy' rock style solo albums after the initial more bluesy style solo stuff after he first left Deep Purple.
There is no bad track but two do stand out as absolute classics, Roller and Mr Universe, huge rockin' tracks that just blew me away when I first heard them all those years ago. Believe me, they still ROCK today!
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Mr. Universe by Ian Gillan (Audio CD - 2007)