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Deep Purple


Review by Larry Toering
Deep Purple and producer Bob Ezrin return with what could be (and most believe will be) their swan song offering. This one, along with their previous effort, are not works of the pedestrian order, let’s put it that way. They’re some of the best albums in the history of the band, without a doubt. That is unless you’re stuck in the static norm of incapability to deal with a Deep Purple that doesn’t have Ritchie Blackmore in it. Not to mention using Jon Lord’s amicable departure (which some fans also think is not true), as any kind of excuse to sell yourself and this band short. Put that attitude away, or lose what these albums really bring to the table. This is not the band's loss, never has been, never will be. And this album is simply just that good, coming from a major fan or not. Their last album was prog, and so is this one, but for all sorts of different reasons. Taking you through moments of spoken word, and even into AOR-Prog territory, I give this album as high of marks as any classic of the 70s or 80s they recorded. This is my second look at the album, the first being an early allowed stream, and this being the big deluxe box set, which comes with a nice variety of bells and whistles. It also sports what is also easily one of their best cover art jobs. Everything about it delivers and then some. There is nothing easy about it. This is a monster contemporary prog-rock album by one of the longest running bands in the history, and it sounds more like when they came in, than when they’re going out.

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Track by Track Review
Time For Bedlam

To start off with some spoken word and do so in such an incendiary fashion is one of the boldest moves ever made by Deep Purple. This is a dark track with a similar tempo to the Machine Head classic "Pictures of Home." But a wall of sound comes flying by as soon as the intro is over, and they nail a grand opening salvo for this album. It’s some intense jamming indeed before closing it out with some more spoken word. One of their best album openers ever, this is pure prog.

Hip Boots
Two tracks contain explicit lyrics, and this starts out with one. After that it’s all Purple majesty. This is easily one of the most satisfying songs I feel they’ve ever done with Steve Morse. It just rocks around a lyric to do with some things I won’t go into. For myself, within the third verse it’s over. This is an absolutely superb piece of ear candy, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. It's just a great hard-rocking track.
All I Got Is You
This is the second explicit track with a heavier four-letter word thrown in toward the end. It’s one of the sleepers of the album and has topped radio charts in Europe. This one falls into the AOR-prog category with some radio-friendly rocking to it. It’s about bickering with the spouse, and it’s a well-textured track that smacks of different. It's enormously satisfying.
One Night In Vegas
This is a typical Purple shuffle with a lot going for it, which keeps the album moving right along well. It’s not one of the best tracks, but there’s not a bum note in sight on this album. Coincidentally, I will be seeing them in Vegas the first night of the US tour with Alice Cooper and Edgar Winter band. A review will follow, and we’ll see if they break this track out for the show or not. 
Get Me Outta Here
Talk about kicking things up a notch. This is where you begin to find that Bob Ezrin means business in keeping the Purple sound right. There is a huge drum sound, much akin to John Bonham. It’s nothing lyrically complex but so what? It reminds you that the big sound is back., even though this is more than likely their last album. Going out big sounding never hurts, especially when they came in that way. 
The Surprising
Now this is where not only the prog factor takes complete shape, but it’s also a magical piece of music unlike anyone has done. With an acoustic, Metallica style riff to start with, that changes into a chugging rhythm. Ian Gillan’s voice is a thing of perfection that suits the mood of this piece so well. It’s about a nightmare that takes you across the threshold of wonder before the mid-section goes into a cosmic piece of ear candy that I don’t think sounds like anything heard before in a rock song - prog rock even at that. It’s a monster arrangement by Don Airey before Steve Morse takes over and goes into some even more cinematically structured playing. This is a must hear whether you even know this band or not. This is something of a rock symphony. 
Johnny’s Band
This is the second single to be released. It’s a bit Spinal Tap, but who can’t relate to that? It’s a traditional hard pop-rock number with an enjoyable enough theme to call it "good." Still, it falls into the bottom few on offer for me, but by another’s standards it might be a fantastic way to turn onto them at this stage of the game. 
On Top of the World
This is the confusing track of the album for most who don’t exactly follow Ian Gillan enough to get what he did here. It’s a jazz-fusion heavy number with a few sets of lyrics that don’t really do much without the great chorus. It takes a turn toward the end, and he goes into a huge spoken word piece that takes up more than half the song, before the band coming back and fading right away. It would take a lot of space to go into what is behind the story to this, so it’s better left not given away.
Birds of Prey
I mentioned the “big sound” already, but this is where it gets even bigger and they pulled off one of the most awesome tracks in the entire Purple catalog. I think one does not have to even know or care who this is once they hear it. Never mind the who, just concentrate on the how and get some. Don’t let not getting over the presence of Blackmore keep you from knowing a good thing when you hear it. This is beyond epic, and many agree it should’ve been the final track. 
Roadhouse Blues
I have heard two different stories about who suggested they do this. The first coming from drummer Ian Paice, and the idea to do it because he’d played it live with another band. The other is from Steve Morse saying the whole idea came from Bob Ezrin, and further saying he’d been listening to it in the car and it went from there. I’m just pointing it out in-case someone only has one side of that story. But it’s neither here nor there, being the music mattering the most. And although a Doors track, this plays more like a tribute to the blues, which the track itself already is. It has a lot of soul. It’s done with taste and it’s heavier sounding than the original. Of course, it should be, considering the weight difference between the two bands. But if you listen to the lyrics, it plays out about right for the concept of this album, with the future being uncertain and the end being almost near. If you’re really into this band, you can take that to mean that they’re not done, but perhaps done with this chapter. See it however you may, but that hits home with this 35-year follower of Deep Purple. They are going out in style, for now, or forever. Either way works for me in the grand Purple scheme of it all.
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