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Ian Gillan

Gillan’s Inn

Review by Rick Damigella

Setting convention and professionalism aside for one moment… I am a card carrying Ian Gillan fan. I have seen him live numerous times, have listened to countless hours of his singing from throughout his storied career, from the Javelins through multiple incarnations fronting Deep Purple to his stint as Jesus. So when I heard Mr. Gillan was putting together a career retrospective with some of his closest musician friends all I could think of is, how do you encapsulate a career such as his into a single disc? I would rather build a bridge to Japan than contemplate that. Thankfully, Ian Gillan did the dirty work and has given us Gillan’s Inn, a 14 track masterpiece that not only acts as Gillan 101 for neophytes, but is one of the most satisfying listening experiences his long time fans could ask for from the man whose voice is one of the greatest in the history of rock and roll. To call Gillan’s Inn a single disc is something of a misnomer. While it is a single album in the conventional sense, Gillan’s Inn was released in the Dual Disc format with an entire side of DVD and interactive content, but we'll get to that shortly. I have to give props to three of the main musicians behind Gillan’s Inn: Michael Lee Jackson (guitar), Rodney Appleby (bass), Dean Howard (guitar) all three who are currently on the Gillan’s Inn tour and who all are amazing players in their own right. The guest list for Gillan’s Inn is astounding. From names you would expect from his recording past like Jon Lord and Tony Iommi to surprising and wonderful collaborations with Joe Elliot and Jeff Healey. Each and every song on Gillan’s Inn is less a re-recording and more a re-invention/celebration of his lyrical and musical heritage.

As if an amazing album wasn’t enough, flip it over and you get this incredible line up of DVD bonus material. It starts with the entire album again, in either 5.1 surround sound or stereo, this time including a bonus track in the way of Deep Purple’s “Demon’s Eye” featuring Jeff Healey. The other features here make you wish every album was given this kind of treatment. “Brick by Brick: The Building of Gillan’s Inn” is a decidedly low-fi making of video that is a real joy to watch. “The Bootleg Basement” is next. Deep Purple have joined many of their peers and released cleaned up versions of what bootleggers have been profiting from. This time around we are treated to amateur audience videotape from Flander’s Expo, Gent, Belgium on 6/18/94 featuring Joe Satriani performing on “When A Blind Man Cries” and “Speed King.” Next up, Mr. Gillan takes a cue from directors’ and actors’ commentary on movie DVD’s and relays tales of each track on the album. Kudos to the genius who thought it would be good to include all of Ian Gillan’s liner notes and hand written lyrics along with a career spanning discography conveniently on the DVD. It’s better than a 20-page CD booklet! You also get a photo montage of never before seen photos set to the bonus track “Can I Get a Witness.” The final treaton the DVD is “Smoke on the Water Choose Your Soloist.” This is four different versions of THE song with your choice of solos from Joe Satriani, Jeff Healey, Michael Lee Jackson or Steve Morse.

Forget what I said about being an Ian Gillan fan earlier. Forget that I said this was a career retrospective. It doesn’t matter if you know only one of these songs or if you know every word by heart. This is absolutely one of the best rock and roll albums of 2006 - if not of the last decade. After listening to it numerous times, it leaves me wanting Gillan’s Inn 2 or Return to Gillan’s Inn as soon as possible. One can only hope that Mr. Gillan delves into his catalog for more songs from his past that deserve the loving re-invention he gave these selections. This is to be played loud and with a pint of your favorite beverage at your side.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Unchain Your Brain
Easily Ian Gillan’s heaviest track outside the realm of Deep Purple, this barnburner was amazing when it first appeared on Glory Road in 1980. The newly recorded version takes it even further with Joe Satriani guesting on lead guitar and Don Airey on keyboards. It’s a classic album opener then and now.
Bluesy Blue Sea
Janick Gers (now in Iron Maiden) played on Gillan’s last album before Gillan joined forces with Black Sabbath. Gers is back to thoroughly heavy up what was already a great heavy rock number. It’s my personal favorite track from this album.
Day Late & A Dollar Short
There is just nothing better than three amazing guitarists all playing at once. The guitar playing from Michael Lee Jackson and Dean Howard are accentuated by the six string wizardry of Uli Jon Roth in the way of fills provided like call and responses to Gillan’s vocals. This is originally from Gillan’s last solo album Dreamcatcher
Hang Me Out To Dry
Originally from the album Toolbox and co-written with Leslie West, Joe Satriani and Don Airey are back again for this one. It is filled with “lyrical introspection” from Mr. Gillan. (Quoted from Gillan’s amazing Wordography at
Men of War
Whereas many of his contemporaries’ vocal chops have suffered over the years, Ian Gillan’s trademark scream is in full effect in 2006 as it was in 1966 and in 1981 when this rocker first came out on the Double Trouble album. The unmistakable melodies of Steve Morse’ guitars appear here, along with Johnny Rzeznik providing the second verse melody.
When a Blind Man Cries
When I have told friends about this collaboration with Jeff Healey, I have gotten more than a couple “are you kidding? That’s just wrong.” responses. Well after I beat them about the head with a large trout for their lack of vision, I told them that it makes perfect sense. Yes there is irony to having a blind guitarist play on this track, but, as one of the best and bluesiest songs from deep within the Purple catalog, there is an inescapable feeling that this collaboration is so right. There is no irony, it is just freaking awesome. Jon Lord appears here keying his trademark Hammond organ.
Sugar Plum
Okay I lied, this might be my personal favorite track on the album. Another track originally from Dreamcatcher. Props to Dean Howard and Michael Lee Jackson who absolutely kill on their six-strings on this track which is backed, basically, by Deep Purple. Ian Paice is on the skins. Roger Glover handles bass and Don Airey is on the keys. Is there any chance we can get this on the next Deep Purple tour Ian? Please!
It was a real surprise to find the best song from his single album jaunt with Black Sabbath making an appearance and even more so that Tony Iommi recorded his guitar anew for the disc. The production is cleaner and Ian’s vocals sound even better than the original. This ranks right between Gillan’s other car songs, “Highway Star” and “Twin Exhausted” as must have songs to listen to whilst driving beyond the posted speed limit. (Do at your own risk.) (editor’s note – Music Street Journal in no way advocates breaking any law, including the speed limit)
No Worries
If you are lucky enough to catch the Gillan’s Inn tour, you will get a kick out of the alcohol-laden tale which Mr. G will relay to you before this number is played. Michael Lee Jackson’s bluesy guitar wail and Rodney Appleby’s bass hold this mid-paced number down properly.
Smoke on the Water
Ok, really, what else can be said about this song? The Magnum Opus, THE riff, THE classic - this is Rock and Roll 101. For this recording Gillan is backed by a dizzying array of musicians and vocalists, including for the first time, triple guitars, dual Hammonds and three layers of percussion to augment Ian Paice’s drums. Guitars are handled by Steve Morse, Michael Lee Jackson andJohnny Rzeznik. Hammond organ duties fall on Jon Lord and Don Airey.
No Laughing In Heaven
Ok I lied again. This is my favorite song on the album. It’s a true rock and roller’s gospel revival song. Our protagonist is a dyed-in-the-wool sinner who repents his wicked ways to ensure his salvation. That is until he realizes there is no laughing in heaven and it’s much more fun to be down here on Earth with the rest of us sinners including the truly evil guitar licks from Michael Lee Jackson and boogie-chug bass from Roger Glover.
Speed King
This is the original rock and roll name check classic. Joe “the speed king” Satriani joins on lead guitar. Don Airey’s new keyboard solo is amazing. The Deep Purple In Rock opener sounds as vital now as it did in 1970.
Loving on Borrowed Time
After 13 songs of break neck rock and roll, Gillan’s Inn finally takes a breath. Naked Thunder’s song about the end of illicit passion with the other woman is easily one of the most beautifully played songs on the album made possible by the barrage of six strings from Steve Morris, Steve Morse, Michael Lee Jackson and Uli Jon Roth.
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
Zydeco accordion leads off this bouncy number with guest harmony vocals from Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. Listening to this makes me want to hear Ian Gillan do a full on album of blues and zydeco standards for his next solo effort. So much fun you can’t but smile.
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