on 21 May 2013
I should have learned by now that sometimes it takes time for music to grow on me. When I first played this album I thought the first track 'A Simple Song' was great, the second not so bad and from then on medicority all the way. A few more plays and it was growing on me, a few more and I realised what a gem this album is. From the quiet opening of the first track that takes you into real rocker, through to the sheer beauty of 'All the time in the World' (a track which crept up on me and now I can't get out of my head.) What is wonderful about this album is its diversity and experimentation. Does this sound like Purple Mk2? No - but what it does have in common with early Purple is the willingness to try something different. This is a mixture of heavy rock and prog rock with a bit of pomp and little mystery ingredient mixed in. It reminds me - at times - of all sorts of bands from Genesis to XTC to Black Sabbath - but make no mistake the sound is unique.
In an age of downloads this a brave album. For me I had to work at it and not give up. Don't let that put you off. It was worth it. This is a fantastic piece of work.
I am by no means a Deep Purple fan, just an occasional listener, but I have to admit I found this album fantastic. The album starts off with a slow ballad, that quickly turns into a classic sounded Purple rocker, with rousing keyboards, riffing, and a fantastic rythmn section - and powerful vocals from Ian Gillan. There are plenty of 'symphonic' moments as well, which is reminsicent of the Jon Lord sound on early albums (The album is dedicated to Mr Lord). By track 4, Hell to Pay, there's more than a hint of 'prog rock' with some rollicking instrumentals - and by Uncommon Man we have lengthy introduction that would have sounded at home on an ELP album.
Just when you think the albums going to descent into riff-laden seventies rock, the band surprised me by adding symphonic sounds, instrumentals and changes of pace. And there's a song about Vincent Price, as well. What more do you want?
Highly recommended to 'casual' fans, and also fans of seventies rock and prog bands. There's so much to enjoy here.
on 3 May 2013
5 stars must be reserved for the very best, as seen some years later, maybe. The band are NOT in 'ripping form' as one has said; it's actually relatively laid back. And why not - these guys are fairly old! Who would have thought this band - in ANY form - would be around even 20 years ago? Jethro Tull (OK..Ian Anderson), Wishbone Ash, Magnum, Uriah Heep, UFO, Nazareth, and many more...all old, all still going strong, NOT just touring old stuff as most magazines keep saying. ALL these bands keep recording, Magnum every 18 months!
So how good is it? It's very classy in sound quality, and also in arrangements. Great. It rocks a bit, but no-there are no monster songs like Gypsy Kiss, Under the Gun from Perfect Strangers. I remember Ian Hunter 15 odd years ago saying he didn't want his new albums to be too 'rocky', as he was getting old. Not even 60 then; 73 now and actually rocking pretty hard! Someone has said Uriah Heep's 'Wake the Sleeper' is better. I agree in that the style is more 'classic' rock. Well, that CD, and the follow-up 'Into the Wild' are more Purple than Purple, as Classic Rock said, so Purple had to pull their socks up. They have done, with this new CD, though it is different in style.
It's a very enjoyable album and I'm getting more out of it after every play. Time will tell. But it's certainly more than we could have expected, even 15 years ago. Gillan sounds good too.
on 18 October 2013
I first saw Deep Purple live in 1970 and have been a fan ever since. As with most bands from that era who are still recording and touring Purple have changed over the years both in line-up and style. One of the reasons that they are still around is their ability to adapt to these changes and this album proves the point for me. As with most 'prog rock' albums this one takes time to get into, but once you are there it is well worth the effort. There is a very refreshing feel to the album, the tracks are all different and there are certainly no fillers. It is well written, well performed and well produced.
Time does not affect instrumentalists in the way that it does singers and Gillan's vocal range has understandably narrowed in latter years. However the writing on this album clearly takes this into account and Gillan puts in a performance that is still right up there with the best. I delayed this review until after their concert in Manchester (last week) so I could see how he handled the new material and in my opinion he is as good on stage as he is on the album - if not better.
Not sure that there is such a thing as 'classic Deep Purple' but this album is unmistakably Deep Purple and it is very very good. Can't wait for the next album and tour now! what?
Now What?! is the nineteenth full-length studio album by the legendary British Rock band Deep Purple, it was their third studio album with Don Airy on Keyboards and their fifth with Steve Morse on guitar. It was produced by Bob Ezrin and released in 2013.
On very first listen, a lot of the album washed over me, leaving a generally positive, but honestly not too impressed or interested impression. With repeat listens however, it revealed itself to be not only a passable, or even above average affair, but a genuinely good one, with literally no weak tracks. It's a grower for sure.
Usually, I really enjoy any Deep Purple album, and have enjoyed most Morse era albums to some extent, however sometimes they can feel like there is a bit of filler, or there's a minor lack of consistency, stopping the albums feeling as great as the old days even when over half the album has some genuinely great songs. Now What?! is the perfect Morse era album, it all fits perfectly together, there's variety yet consistency and all the songs are as good as the very best tracks on another Morse era album.
Highlights include the symphonic `Uncommon Man' dedicated to the late Jon Lord, which feels like a mixture between Close To The Edge era Yes with Works era ELP, the energetic and memorable `Apres Vous' which has a very catchy chorus, and the interesting and characterful single `Vincent Price' although to be honest its all great.
The only real negative thing I can think to say is that the track order may undersell the album's both power and variety. I listen to this record a lot but I often choose to listen to the record on random/shuffle now, and always find it a great and exciting album all the more for having done so, but that's just personal preference, most people have no problems with that running order. Seriously, it's a great album; the rhythm section are tight and steady, Airy and Morse make a real impact and Ian Gillan fits into his older vocal style more comfortably here than ever.
Overall; Now What?! is a very good album from the veteran Rock band, easily in the top fifty percent of their catalogue. It's a well produced and well written collection of interesting songs, with a great sense of subtly, musicianship and even a few surprises. Check it out if you like Deep Purple, and especially if you've liked their modern output. And if you do check it out, don't just listen to it once, give it a good few spins and really let it sink in, you'll thank yourself for it after a while.
on 30 April 2013
When I heard that the band were describing this album as having 'the excellence and elegance of "Perfect Strangers" and the wild freedom of "Made in Japan"', I admit to having deep reservations. I mean that is some mighty claim to make, especially so, given that not only has it been 8 years since Deep Purple's last release, but this is a line-up sans the late Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore who made Purple what they are. Furthermore, though the efforts with Steve Morse have been pretty good, I can't in all honesty say that any of his 4 previous efforts were classic in that vein. Don't get me wrong, Morse has rejuvenated a band that had become music by numbers. Good, solid and creative yes, but hardly 'Fireball' or 'Machine Head'. 'Purpendicular' was the most diverse and exciting, 'Abandon' was solid hard-rock, admittedly reminiscent of 'In Rock', 'Bananas' was great fun, though 'Rapture of the Deep' was awful. Likewise, Don Airey. He is a fine musician with a musical pedigree, second to none. However, his contribution up to now has been pretty standard fare and certainly nothing to write home about.
My reservations and doubts increased when I heard the first single 'Hell to Pay', the chorus of which was a bit tame. 'All the time in the world' was certainly better. Indeed, has grown on me over time. Hence, the sense of trepidation when I listened to the album.
I needn't have worried. This album is BRILLIANT. It blows away pretty much everything they have produced since 'Machine Head'. How so? Of course, albums like 'Burn' and 'Perfect Strangers' are substantive efforts with meaty numbers that define the band, but what makes this different and certainly closer to the spirit of what made Purple the classic band we know and love, is the looseness and free-flowing nature. 'Now What?!' isn't simply a collection of well crafted songs, masterly put together, and finely produced. Instead, it manages to sound like a live album, fresh, full of pounding energy, whilst at the same time demonstrating some of the most dynamic, imaginative and deeply layered material in years. Quite simply, it blows apart comparisons with any of their recent efforts. It is also the most progressive thing they have ever done with elements that sound almost like 'Asia', 'Yes', 'ELP' and even 'The Doors'.
Bob Ezrin is the band's 6th member. He has done for Purple what George Martin did for 'The Beatles'. What is more, Airey performs like a man possessed. The spirit of Jon Lord - to whom the album is dedicated - looms heavily here, but Airey stamps his own mark distinctively and conclusively. Likewise, Morse, plays some blinding guitar that proves that he has finally cast aside Blackmore's shadow.
'A Simple Song' is one of the best openers. It draws you in with its gentle, melodic guitar intro and Gillan's subtle folk-like singing, before WHAM! Gotta be heard to be understood. This could be brilliant live with ample opportunity for extending. 'Weirdistan' defies decription, 'Out of Hand' is Purple through and through, and even 'Hell to Pay' with its extended solos is a very different beast to the single. My personal favourities are 'A Simple Song', 'Uncommon Man', 'Above and Beyond' and the shlock horror pastiche 'Vincent Price', but there are no fillers. This is a serious effort that begs only one question. What the hell took them so long?!
on 19 June 2013
Given that this is the best Deep Purtple album for over two decades, I thought I would celebrate by buying the vinyl version. The music is the same as the CD, but the double album is nicely packaged with lyrics on the liner bags and info you can actually ready without a microscope. Its not an audiophile pressing but has limited surface noise and is nicely EQ'd. Black Sabbaths album got all the press but this is better by miles
on 6 March 2014
What the hell! (to pay)
No doubt this is the best work since 1984, when the 'dinosaurs' reunited and produced 'Perfect Strangers'.
At that time Mr. Blackmore was still in the band and when, some 10 years later, he was replaced by Mr. Morse, probably nobody would have bet a penny on the new line-up (although Morse had been voted the best rock guitar player 5 years in a row).
Well, we were all wrong. 'Purpendicular' was a remarkable piece of work and, as they wrote on the sleeve: a sort of 'crossing the bridge'. On the other side of the bridge there was no better or worse Deep Purple, but simply 'another' Deep Purple. As great as ever!
It's incredible, 20 more years have passed and they're still around, always enjoying themselves and delighting old and new fans, teaching many other (would-be) bands what hard rock & roll should sound like. Of course there may be fans who don't like 'Now What?!', but I suspect that these live in another world or, rather, still live in the seventies... Deep Purple wouldn't have survived this long if they had struggled along aping their early selves. So, 'In Rock' and 'Machine Head' are and will always be milestones, but people need to know that their 'heroes' are still alive and kicking to keep on loving them as ever.
There's very little to add about 'Now What?!', only repeated listenings will allow everybody to realize how unique this album is: fresh and solemn, powerful and subtle, melodic and rough, elegant and tough, original and unsophisticated... simply straight Deep Purple music. Stupendously played and sung and energically produced.
Over four and a half decades Deep Purple got us used to a surprise after another (sometimes good, sometimes bad), but this album really came as the nicest of all. It could be their swansong (I don't believe so though, and I hope not), but to put it with the words of another famous rock band from the seventies: 'it's got the magic touch'. I'm sure also Mr. Lord would agree were he still among us.
Thank you Mr. Gillan & Co. (including all those who, from 1968 till today, have contributed to this fantastic, inimitable thing called Deep Purple): you'll be even dinosaurs, but never to become extinct!
I've always been a firm fan of their earlier stuff - In Rock through to Burn, and including Made in Japan and 24 Carat, in fact I absolutely adore all the albums from that time, but from Stormbringer onwards I just couldn't get in to them. I also finally got to see them live about 2-3 years ago, and while it was a huge thrill to finally do so (and tick another item off the bucket list!), there was no denying that Ian Gillan's voice just ain't what it was, he couldn't hit the high notes, but worst of all was still trying. So I didn't really expect much of this, and had given it merely a cursory glance when it was released.
But my daughter just gave it to me for Father's Day, and I must say I am happily surprised at how good it is, and how much I like it. The opening track starts off very quiet and melodious, and I kind of wish it didn't pick up after this short intro but carried on, because it is a beautiful sound. But it can't, this is Deep Purple, and much of it is very much in the vein of the earlier albums I love so much, but rather cunningly without stretching Gillan's voice beyond where it can now go. Kept within these bounds, it still has plenty of depth and power.
There is no getting away from the huge loss of Jon Lord, but there is a fitting dedication to him, and Don Airey steps in with a sterling performance.
My only grumble really is with the extra DVD in this deluxe version. It has the obligatory artily-filmed interview (which held my attention for all of 30 seconds I'm afraid), but the 3 extra tracks on there are audio only. Er, it's a DVD, you could have put some moving pictures on there! Considering two of the tracks are live recordings, it really is a shame they went to the bother of putting them on a DVD but couldn't dig up some footage, however grubby, to go with them.
After a day, I've already listened to it three times, and after liking it to start with, it continues to grow on me - always a good sign. Very good.
on 19 June 2013
Having been a DP fan from the start, my interest had somewhat lapsed until revitalised by Purpendicular. But I was not expecting another DP album following Jon Lord's sad demise, let alone one of the same originality and quality but this album has even exceeded that.
Don Airey's compositions have a surprising but delightful breadth of style and his keyboard work is a fitting tribute (and sometimes very reminiscent) to Jon Lord. Steve Morse is absolutely on form and shows a broader and more subtle range of dynamics and styles than previously heard. As expected the rhythm section is powerful and solid.
The overall production has a precise clean sound. Outstanding.