Uncommon men

Posted: May 4, 2013 in Classic Rock, Deep Purple Family


Deep Purple entered the Swedish charts at No.7 with their brand new “Now What?!” album this week, with very little visibility in our media (outside of Sweden Rock Magazine, see earlier post), so things are looking good. I think “Now What?!” is an album that will sell by word of mouth. It should, it really is one of the strongest offerings from the band since the mid 70´s.

This, their 19th album since 1968 (giving them a rather impressive 45 year track record) – third with this lineup – delivers big time. Producer Bob Ezrin (Kiss, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd) has been a good addition to the family, and he does get credit as a song writer as well on this record. They split everything six ways. A strong indication that this collaboration will continue at some point. Deep Purple, sounding better than ever coming out of Nashville. Who would have known?

Ian Gillan is 67 years old, but sings like a king. The trademark screaming is avoided, the more somber and mature in focus. His lyrics, sometimes in collaboration with Roger Glover, always entertaining. On this album he has found a new comfort zone that could well prolong both his career and the career of Deep Purple. He sounds great.

Bob Ezrin has also been good in that he has got Deep Purple to utilize the live trademark on a studio record. That never happened before but here it is. Suddenly, the band moves into a furious pumping jam that brings the listener to surrender with a smile. It makes everything more interesting. The sudden break into a jam in “Aprés Vous” is a good example. Suddenly, it´s like being transported to “War Of The Worlds” territory. Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Steve Morse and Don Airey are great players.

Don Airey steps forward on this record, producing sounds that takes Deep Purple into new territory. Some moments are bordering on early 70´s prog from masters like ELP, but I don´t mind one bit. Deep Purple is a beast from the 70´s, one of the last great bands of that era. If Purple wants to insert a few more shades of colours from those days into the mix, they have the right to do it. On tracks like “Above And Beyond” (inspired by the sad passing of Jon Lord last year) and “Uncommon Man” Deep Purple sounds fresh and powerful trading this new ground. In fact, I hope they explore this direction more in the future.

Steve Morse will enter his third decade as a member of Deep Purple while promoting this record on the road. This is his fifth offering with the band and I think it is the best yet. His journey with the band has produced plenty of good material, strong enough to have launched a brand new band and built it from scratch to bigger things. With Purple, there is always the past to consider and I think that has been slightly unfair to Morse. However, history will acknowledge his importance to the second half of this bands history some day and records like “Now What?!” will assure that. Fans should be grateful that Deep Purple landed such a unique player when Ritchie Blackmore left. The fact that they are still here in 2013 with a killer album proves it. And the Morse/Airey pairing is another lucky accident in this bands history.

The album ends with “Vincent Price”, which is going to be the next single (a video was shot in Berlin the other day). I think this song could very well bring in a brand new audience. Love the lyrics (see earlier post). This is a band that clearly love what they do, how else to explain a song like this? I loved it the first time I heard it, it made me smile.

I have been a fan since 1971. I have followed the Purple Family ever since, through a turbulent but always interesting history. I have seen the highs and I have seen the lows. This is a high. Deep Purple are in a good place.

And if it ends like this? If this is how good they will be when they rock into the twighlight years and towards the end…

We are not worthy!

(The image shows three versions of the record, including the vinyl, plus the cover of Classic Rock issue 184, currently on sale in the UK)

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