Deep Purple, regardless of line-up changes and number of years that have passed, will always be judged by the output from the classic quintet 40+ years ago. However you look at it, that is harsh; but there we are. All great bands have a legacy to protect, and I prefer to thank them for continuing to play for the love of it, rather than bemoaning that they may not be as awesome as they were as men in their 20s. And besides all that, if anyone deserves an album dedicated to them, it`d have to be the late Jon Lord!
And this album is a fitting tribute; it`s damn close to classic DP. Gillan still sounds strong, somehow, and I defy anyone to complain about Steve Morse (I love him as a solo artist so I am biased) - Paice and Glover are still awesome and Airey fills Lord`s huge boots with class. There are a few standouts for me on this fine record - opener "A Simple Song", "Weirdistan", "Vincent Price" (Morse makes some great spooky guitar sounds), and the best song of them all, "Uncommon Man"; a great song by any standards, from any era. I`m not a diehard Purple fan, but this is a mighty record that sits with some of their best.
on 6 May 2013
The blurb for this album claims this is a mix of Made in Japan and Perfect Strangers, which is nonsense. If we had to go there, maybe Fireball meets Perfect Strangers meets Rapture of the Deep.
On first listen, it really did nothing for me at all. Of course, I realised that this isn't necessarily a bad thing & turns out I was right. It's a terrific album. This is not Bananas 3 (which was what I was expecting), but a whole different beast altogether. This is a much more carefully crafted album that has the perfect mix of live jamming and modern production values. In fact, the production may have been one of the things that put me off in the first place as it's the first time they've really pulled it off.
The real highlight for me is the Morse/Airey thing, which was maybe only hinted at in the last two albums but here it is in glorious full technicolour. I actually think that they've not really had their due yet & this album should go a long way to fix that. In a way, this is the album I've been waiting for since Come Hell Or High Water suggested that they still had that potential.
There's actually an awful lot of music, here, which should keep me entertained for a long while. My favourites at the moment are Out Of Hand (a more typical Morse-era heavy riff and epic melody), Bodyline (a classy Paicey swing-rock) and the trio of Uncommon Man, Apres Vous and All The Time In The world, which are not only three of the best songs in the bands catalogue but pretty much unlike anything else in the bands catalogue. Don't be fooled by the slow tempos - it might be elaborate, but still bursts with energy.
So what's missing? The high energy teetering-on-the-brink aka Speed King or Made In Japan is wholly absent (and has been since 1973!). Perhaps advertising it as such is going to give people the wrong impression. They tried that live in the 80s, and I don't think it worked, anyway. A good new Deep Purple album needs to get the best out of the people in the band at the time & I think that they've succeeded. I've no interest in a band that is like a cover band of 'when they were good'. Plenty of bands do that, but not Purple.
Weaknesses? It does mostly lack the immediacy of Bananas or Purpendicular. My least favourite song on there is Hell To Pay the 'song' part of which is a little derivative to my ears with a catchy but cringe worthy chorus. It is saved by a classic bit of jamming middle section (with nods to Mandrake Root) which is great. Having said that, I would expect people to pick up on this one as it's less involved that some of the others. The album works where it is slower and more - for want of a better word - 'mature' than this kind of stuff. Also, vocally the production is more like The Battle Rage On than the last two, possibly due to Big Ian's advancing years. If you want to hear what he 'really' sounds like in a studio, stick the Bananas and Rapture.
All in all a great album of new, different stuff that avoids watering down their sound. Those that want to relive their youth and get Machine Head part 2 will not like it. I would suspect that the word 'prog' will get banded about in reviews and whilst (as a progger myself) this is kind of inaccurate, it's probably a better indicator than what the marketing machine is saying. It's not about 'fists in the air kiss-type music', to quote a certain someone, it's not really about just 'songs', hooks, or having your 'rock hero' in the band, but a wonderful example of what happens when musicians are inspired and work together. Isn't that what Purple is all about?
...for Deep Purple,well having listened to this all week,its a successful album and hopefully a superb world tour.Talk about setting yourself up to fail ,putting a sticker 'Perfect Strangers Meets Made In Japan',suicidal or what,the press department wants shot.
Of course its never going to compare to those seminal discs of the past,no heritage band can,its never going to happen,guys in their 60's cant replicate their youth on record (nor on stage),once you accept that then you can be more realistic when listening.
This is easily the best Morse era disc,i would ,even say its the best since Perfect Strangers ( of course there hasnt been too much competition)
Gillan and the boys have looked old age in the eye and given it the middle finger,this is a superb release..
highlights ? plenty be it the beautiful ,delicate 'A Simple Song' or the superb laid back intro to'Blood from a Stone' before it kicks in.
Several tracks see Don Airey come to the fore,more Keith Emerson than Jon Lord,his keyboards enhance and enrich the likes of 'Out Of Hand','Above and Beyond' &' Uncomman Man', while the old boys show they can still hold a groove with the likes of 'Bodyline' and 'Hell To Pay' ,although the latters chorus is a bit irritating.
The band have been captured to perfection with a outstanding production courtesy of Bob Ezrin.
I'm not a major fan of the Morse era(on record) but i thoroughly enjoyed this and would recommend you give it a try.
on 30 April 2013
If the brief had been "create an album that sounds like Perfect Strangers meets Purpendicular", then they couldn't have done a better job.
The production is definitely a step up from previous albums. My only quibbles with that aspect are that the drums need a bit more presence; the guitar is positioned far enough left to make listening on earphones slightly odd; and that cheesy turn-down ending on Hell To Pay is just, well, cheesy. But all of those things are personal preference, not "faults" really.
No, my main criticism is of Don Airey's playing. While he's clearly letting rip in a way that we've not heard from the Purps since Purpendicular, and the album is all the better for that ... his playing just lacks the rhythmic precision and poise (and invention) of Jon Lord's. I've always felt that Steve Morse is a more than adequate replacement for Blackmore (not least because he bothers to turn up, and to play the right notes at the right time, both of which were beyond Blackmore's powers of concentration in his latter Purple years!). But somehow Don Airey - very capable though he is - just doesn't bring to the party the sheer musicality that Jon Lord did.
Stepping back, though, after the fairly humdrum efforts of Abandon and Bananas, and the very patchy Rapture of the Deep, this album definitely qualifies to be called a "return to form". They've broken away somewhat from the predictable rock formula and allowed back in some of the inventiveness that made Purpendicular one of the best albums of the 1990s (I may be biased). Happy listener here.
(UPDATE: I originally gave this 4 stars, but as I can't give 4.5, which is what I would like, I'll have to change it to 5)
on 28 July 2013
Best album in years, well worth the wait. Lots of very non Deep Purple moments but that is what you hope to get from this great band.
on 29 April 2013
One thing you will feel as soon as you play this album is that there is rarely a part of the album that is jarring or too contrived. This is a free flowing album but not without purpose. All the songs are well crafted and the musicianship is controlled and well synergised. It's like a jig saw with all the pieces fitting well together to create a wonderful tapestry of songs (not great but wonderful).
There is no great effort to fight the ghost of Ritchie by creating some great riffs (something I feel Steve is not a natural at) but creating some good music and I feel that the band with Bob Ezrin in tow have been able to do that..
As everyone will have their own interpretations of the songs I'm going to cover them broadly. The two earlier songs released as a single in March are the extremes of the album i.e. the most AoR (All the time in the world) and the riff anthem rocker (Hell to Pay). Most other songs fit somewhere in between these two.
The first song `Simple song' is a slow Steve guitar start to a good solid rocker; `Body line' is the swinging one with a nice intro jam and sexy overtures in Ian's lyrics. It's quite catchy. `Wierdistan' and `Out of hand' are as Geoff Barton puts it free flowing jams connected loosely but at the right places. Both songs are lovely specially Out of hand.
`Above and beyond' has simple lyrics that will get you to imagine a lot, I suppose it's about continuing to love someone beyond the boundaries of life on this earth.
The hot rock here is `Blood from a stone' a deep voiced song with some fantastic ethereal work by Don on the keys (reminiscent of The Doors) and undoubtedly the hardest edgy guitar work by Steve Morse in Deep Purple, the song is done in two tones and stands out as a real gem, this one could end up being the rock song of the year.
`Uncommon man' starts with wonderful rich guitar work by Steve (he is really fantastic here) and then the band joins in for a free flowing brassy number about `good to be king'.
The five old hands have done a fine job and the sixth' Bob' the producer has helped them smooth the edges to make the music richer, plus all the instruments have their own space giving greater depth. This is unlike `Rapture of the Deep' where the sound was quite muddled. Both Don and Steve have interesting passages in the songs that add great feel to them ......a bit like the old times ha ha. This album is probably one of the most progressive by the band.
This is not Deep Purple of the seventies but again it's not in the shadows of them either. As said earlier this is not a great album but I have to admit it's a wonderful album and will leave you warm and glowing.
Nowhere during the album I felt that the melody got lost and the song should have taken another direction possibly to make it better, ok maybe once with the lyrics of `All the time in the World' as in `I put my faith in the axle not the wheels, Like old Zeno's toytus' a bit too much from the well-read Mr. Gillian lol.
As a fan of the band I am more than happy with this album, I feel this is the best output by them in a long time, I'll stick my neck out here, possibly their best since `Perfect Strangers'.
on 29 April 2013
There's no doubt that I'm a HUGE dP fan. I've always been and I've enjoyed each and every of their release, even the most awkward. So, no, I'm not the most objective person when it comes to them.
Now what?! Is a complete different beast than the previous MkVII VIII efforts. First the wait has been extremely long-and therefor the expectation was high. Second, they finally decided to go with the services of top-notch outside producer: Bob Ezrin.
Having heard the singles I was a bit disappointed, they're good but just above okay. That was until I heard the songs in the context of the album and in their full length and album mixes.
The whole album is absolutely brilliant. The songwritting is excellent, you can really tell that they scratched their heads here, and the production is stunning. Really!
Bob Ezrin managed to capture the Live feel of the band, the urgency of their Live performances and to put them into a studio environment while adding TONS of effects and orchestrations that don't take anything away from the playing but enhanced every part of it.
The album is mainly mid-tempo, but never struggles to display high and exciting moments. I haven't heard a track that seemed to be out of place or a just filling a gap.
dP has always been about groove, improvisations, variations and nuances . Now what!? Is full of them.
Both the songwritting and the production are subtle, dark, profound, very dense and yet very much alive and daring.
Steve Morse doesn't just noodle thru the album, but gives a large view of his talents. He plays it heavier on the rhythm side and more open on the solo. The man is a great guitar player.
Don Airey is clearly at home with the B3 but adds lots of other sounds and textures. Very dramatic at times. Sure Jon would be proud of his work here!
Ian Gillan, considered by many the weakest link of the band, has adapted his vocals to his range, and definitely gives the best performance on album he has in years.
Paice and Glover are their usual self but blessed with an amazing sound (which was cruelly missed on the two last releases). Although I could have done with a killer drum-fill à la "Burn" here and there...
There are hints of Fireball, Made in Japan, Perfect Strangers even Come Taste the Band and of course there's definitely the MKVII-VIII touches. At first I thought it was a bit presumptuous to present this album as "a mix of MIJ of PS", but I get it, it's true, it definitely has the Live feel, and a great sense of maturity and steadiness.
The first listening was very intense for me. I have given it several other listening by now (bought it on 26 april) and not only is this a "love at first sight", it is also a grower!
There is a lot of information in the music here, different moods & styles. There are the many facets of dP: the blues, the rock, the proggy side, some jazzy ingredients and the groovy side.
Even knowing dP left, right and centre, they still managed to surprise me. This is a band that's not afraid to bring new ingredients and mix them with what people want to hear sound-wise when listening to a Purple album.
What can I say, I am just SO pleased with this release. Thanks Bob, thank dP! Brilliant work.
on 8 November 2013
Bought this album prior to going to see them live at Manchester Apollo. This is a 'grower ' and in my opinion a great listen. Don Airey joins on keyboards replacing the late great Jon Lord and brings a powerful as well as classic influence. This album is full off top quality musicianship from all members ; Ian Paice on drums, Roger Glover on bass & Steve Morse each get their chance to shine, whilst Ian Gillan on vocals is certainly back to his best. Highlights for me were Après vous, Simple song & the song Above & Beyond at tribute to Lord but to be fair there are no weak tracks. Enjoy!
on 11 May 2014
Some of the classic rock and metal bands around the UK are still going. In this country we had Genesis, Led Zep, Pink Floyd, Sabbath, Magnum, Yes, etc despite only a handful still around in the business!. Deep purple are still touring and releasing albums after nearly 45 years now and we've had a lot of ups and down since then. Last years, Deep Purple - Now what?! is likely the best all round album for several decades:- which was proving ultimately superior to the likes of the excellent "Perfect strangers, Perpendicular or even Bananas" before it.
Consistent high quality throughout is what allowed me transcend this album more than any other of recent memory. The band are all seemingly on the best of form, playing a well executed mirage of well pampered & juicy rock compositions. Gillian's vocal is probably now among his finest performances and the song quality more than matches the energy and vitality. Out of all the songs present the meat and potatoes riff fest of "Out of hand & Hell to pay" rate as the 2 favourites coming from this fan. "Vincent Price" is also definitely worth a mention as I did really enjoy hearing this one too.
A seasoned and veteran band still know how to unleash a real firecracker of an album whilst keeping the trademark and essential sound alive. Deep Purple have done and tried many things over the years with some disputed successes and failiures. This felt like an approach that's convicted and what suited them best; as well as "Magnum's - On the thirteenth day" this was one of my favourite rock albums of last year. If you make a decision to get a copy you woule be well advised to pick up the 2CD digipak version which contains a 20 minute band interview, a track edit and few live tracks.
*The Flimsy gold edition is not recommended. Cardboard cut out packaging stinks of budget presentation and genuine lack of thought.
on 20 May 2013
I was very surprised by this new Purple CD. After a few relatively weak offerings and countless live albums, they are back with new stuff that is outstanding and surprising. The Purple SOUND is there as ever, but the songs are really good throughout, a nice change from the dud-populated previous CDs. This is the first Purple in a looooong time I have pushed on "replay" for, then again a second time, then a third etc. My favourite since Perfect Strangers, for sure. And on this edition they even finish with a pretty good extra blues-rock track. Amazing: MUST BUY.