Welcome back and here were with Part II (or MK II?) of the Deep Purple Album by Album Challenge. For this final installment we will pick up with Deep Purple’s comeback album, Perfect Strangers, the one off album with Joe Lynn Turner, the Steve Morse era, and the effect of the departure of long time keyboardist/songwriter Jon Lord for the band’s last three albums. How did these albums do? Well, read on and you’ll find out. Thoughts?
The Good: Knockin’ At Your Back Door, Under the Gun, Nobody’s Home, Mean Streak, Perfect Strangers, Gypsy’s Kiss, Hungry Daze, Not Responsible, Son of Alerik
Now this is the kind of album I expect to hear when I hear the word, “comeback.” My god this album is, in my opinion, the essential comeback album. 10 years since playing with Blackmore and 9 years since Come Taste the Band, Perfect Strangers has Deep Purple sounding youthful, full of fire, and more inspired that I’ve ever heard them. Blackmore’s playing is without a doubt some of his best work and Gillan sounds better than ever. “Perfect Strangers” has to be one of the most badass songs ever but the shining moment on this one for me is “Wasted Sunsets.” “One too many wasted sunsets. One too many for the road.” What a lyric! I love that they closed it out with a signature instrumental, this one called “Son of Alerik.” This shit sounds like it could’ve been on a Rod Evans era album. So good.
I’m sure I may get some shit from many Deep Purple purists but I have to say that Perfect Strangers just may be my favorite Gillan era Purple album. It’s so full of fire and it sounds like a band that still has so much prove. They play with so much youthful energy that it’s hard to believe that this is a band of “old dudes.” Perfect Strangers… yeah. You need this in your life for sure!
The House of Blue Light
The Good: Hard Lovin’ Woman, The Spanish Archer
The Bad: Call of the Wild, Mad Dog, Mitzi Dupree
The Indifferent: Bad Attitude, The Unwritten Law, Black and White, Strange Ways,
Whoa Nellie! Time out. What in fuck’s name happened here? Here I was, getting my face melted off by the stellar Perfect Strangers and then all of the sudden we get this thing? I really don’t know what happened. This album is just so bad. If the songs aren’t “ok”, they’re flat out horrible. It’s musically unexciting, rushed, and leftover sounding. Lyrically it has some pretty classic Purple in there but the overall delivery of the songs just makes it a painful listen.
I’m curious to hear what the more diehard DP fans think of this album but I can’t imagine that they find very many redeeming qualities to this album. Songs like “The Spanish Archer” and “Hard Luck Woman” come very close to being great but it’s like they were almost there but just gave up. All in all, even the ones marked good are just that; good. Not great and not even remotely memorable. This album is a flop. Skip over this one completely.
Slaves and Masters
The Good: Fire in the Basement, Fortuneteller
The Bad: The Cut Runs Deep, Breakfast in Bed, Too Much is Not Enough, Slow Down Sister
The Indifferent: King of Dreams, Truth Hurts, Love Conquers All, Wicked Ways,
Remember that moment when Deep Purple put out an album that sounded like Foreigner trying to sound like a cock rock band? You don’t? Well then either you’re luck by never hearing Slaves and Masters or it was so fucking band that you literally blocked out the memory. In all honesty, it’s not so much that these songs are all flat out horrible. They’re just horrible Deep Purple songs. For instance, “Love Conquers All” would be a great Bon Jovi song but it’s a not so good DP song. “Fire in the Basement” is literally the only song that sounds anything like Deep Purple. “Fortuneteller” is actually a cool song but I totally hear Dio era Rainbow in this one. Not a bad track but only worth stealing if anything.
I also figured out that I fucking hate Joe Lynn Turner. It’s like, why was he in bands like Rainbow and DP? He’s got this cock rock voice and his lyrics for the most part are just well written glam rock lyrics. Again, it’s not so much that it’s terrible; it’s just terrible for Deep Purple. That’s about all I have to say about that.
The Battle Rages On
The Good: The Battle Rages On, Anya, Ramshackle Man,
The Indifferent: Lick it Up, Talk About Love, Time to Kill, A Twist in the Tale, Nasty Piece of Work, Solitaire, One Man’s Meat
So after they realized that Joe Lynn Turner just wasn’t cutting the mustard, they screamed for Ian Gillan to come back. While this album is a slight improvement from Slaves and Masters, this album just sounds really off to me. None of the songs really stand out in particular. The opening track reminds me of something that we could’ve heard in Gillan era Sabbath while “Anya” is a really good tune. “Ramshackle Man” is probably the closest to classic sounding Purple but again, it’s close but no cigar.
Even though there are a few “good” tracks, again, they’re no more than just good. Nothing really flat out sucks but The Battle Rages On is just a totally drab album. One of the things I love about this album is that Gillan’s voice is just killing it and lyrically, it sounds like Purple. Musically, however, the band sounds absolutely bored stiff. This is just a really boring, unexciting, and forgettable album that just leave me saying, “meh.”
The Good: Loosen My Strings, The Aviator,
The Bad: Soon Forgotten, A Castle Full of Rascals,
The Indifferent: Ted the Mechanic, I Feel Like Screaming, I’m Not Your Lover Now, Rosa’s Cantina, A Touch Away, Hey Cisco, Somebody Stole My Guitar, Purpendicular Waltz
So this is the Deep Purple everyone warned me about. Well, I can kind of see why. First off, let me just get this out of the way. Could these guys not find someone other than Steve Morse that wanted this gig? I mean, Morse is obviously an amazing player but the guy plays with zero feel. His playing on this album actually annoyed the hell out of me. All those pinch harmonics… it’s like Zakk Wylde’s stepdad or something. Song wise, the songs are all just completely forgettable. “Loosen My Strings” is a pretty great fucking song as is “The Aviator” but once again, it’s another album chockfull of forgettable songs.
I also have found myself a bit confused as Deep Purple seems to have completely shed their identity. The only reason this is bad is because it sounds like they themselves don’t know what they want to be. There are glimpses of Purple in there but hell, even on “Hey Cisco” it sounds like David Lee Roth’s “Shyboy.” Are they trying to be a shred band? I just don’t get it and honestly, I don’t want to.
The Good: Any Fule Kno That, Almost Human, Don’t Make Me Happy, Seventh Heaven, Fingers to the Bone, Jack Ruby, She Was, ’69, Evil Louie, Bludsucker
The Indifferent: Watching the Sky,
I don’t know what it is about this album but this seems to be where this lineup seems to have gelled for some reason. I really couldn’t get over how much I was digging this album. The ridiculously spelled “Any Fule Kno That” totally kicked ass and had me feeling like this album had some promise. “Don’t Make Me Happy” and “Fingers to the Bone” have this slight shimmer of the past to them but very much sounded like Purple rooted in the present. Also, “Bludsucker” is the bastard brother of “Into the Fire” and it fucking just kills my face. Damn, I have to say that these songs also had Ian Gillan delivering some of his best work in my opinion as these songs were so moving.
While not perfect, Abandon was really quite a surprise for me. This album has Deep Purple sounding particular funky and putting some stank on it. They sound youthful, energized, and they actually sound like they’re having a fucking blast which really adds to the experience. I really enjoyed this album and even the “indifferent” songs weren’t bad at all. Again, I really enjoyed this album and I can totally see myself revisiting this album again. This one is totally worth picking up and adding to the collection.
The Good: House of Pain, Sun Goes Down, Haunted, Walk On, Never a Word, Contact Loss
The Indifferent: Razzle Dazzle, Silver Tongue, Picture of Innocence, I Got Your Number, Bananas, Doing It Tonight,
So this album is very interesting. Interesting in that right off the bat something just didn’t feel right. Something felt amiss and when I learned that Jon Lord was not on this album it all just made sense. Lord’s presence was such an integral part of Deep Purple’s sound that with him not in the fold, it’s almost as if they lost a limb. That being said, there are some pretty great tunes on this album. “Haunted” and “Never a Word” are the showstoppers here but the majority of the album falls a bit flat.
All in all, this is just a very unexciting album. As fun and as much as I enjoyed Abandon, Bananas just seems to not so much a swing and a miss but more a foul ball. This album lacks the energy and fire that Abandon seemed to capture. It’s almost like with Abandon, they FINALLY gelled only to have it all fall by the wayside with the absence of Jon Lord.
Rapture of the Deep
The Bad: Money Talks, Girls Like That, Wrong Man, Rapture of the Deep, Don’t Let Go, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, MTV, Junkyard Blues, Before Time Began
The Indifferent: Clearly Quite Absurd, Back to Back,
My buddy Chris refers to this album as “Crapture of the Deep.” Well, he wasn’t far off. This album fucking sucks. DO NOT BUY THIS ALBUM! I mean, I can barely put to words just how bad this album is. The performances are weak, the lyrics are absolutely horrendous, and poor Ian Gillan sounds like he’s struggling for dear life to squeeze out the notes. As a matter of fact, at some points Gillan even sounds like someone’s drunk ass dad doing karaoke at a wedding. SMH (shake my head for you old people), this album just doesn’t cut it. They even have a song on “MTV.” Seriously and yes, it’s as bad as you’d imagine.
There are a few moments where a few of the songs had me thinking, “Hey, this isn’t so bad” only for them to just get worse as they go along. This late in the game, I think it’s safe to say that Deep Purple has burned through all of their fuel and the reserves are now bone dry. Luckily I only have one more album to go and I can only pray (and I’m atheist) that it’s not any worse than Crapture of the Deep. Sigh… let’s get this shit over with.
The Bad: A Simple Song, Weirdestan, Out of Hand, Hell to Pay, Bodyline, Above and Beyond, Uncommon Man, Apres Vous,
The Indifferent: Blood From a Stone, All the Time in the World,
Oh brother. I just don’t even know where to begin with this one. It’s no wonder Jon Lord jumped ship when he did. I mean, it is just so hard for me to comprehend that this is a band that brought so much great shit to the world of rock and roll yet they just seem content to piss in the very pool that they built. The songs just sound so uninspired and I even had a hard time hearing them trying to cop off of Zeppelin with “Above and Beyond.” Why try to be Zeppelin when you can’t even be Deep Purple? “Vincent Price?” A fucking song called “Vincent Price.” What the fuck guys? I could barely contain my hysterical laughter/crying. Holy Jon Lord, guys… I think it’s time.
I do have to say one more thing. Steve Morse. Why Steve Morse? Yeah, yeah, I get it. He’s an amazing guitarist but the guy has zero feel and all of those fucking pinch harmonics just make me want to break his fucking fingers. Couldn’t they have found some young prodigy or something who would’ve brought some soul, some heart, some fire into Deep Purple much like the way Tommy Bolin did? I couldn’t be happier to be done with this challenge as these last few albums were some of the most painful moments I’ve experienced doing one of these. I’d almost rather listen to Hagar era Van Halen than this shit.