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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Deep Purple

Total Abandon: Australia '99

Review by Gary Hill

This live album from Deep Purple finds the band in a killer performance. It’s amazing how much jam band seems to be built into this Deep Purple machine. It’s a cool disc that showcases both classic Deep Purple songs and some that were quite new at the time. Sure, this isn’t Blackmore era Deep Purple, but it’s time for people to get beyond that. Steve Morse seriously rocks on this disc and the rest of the band are also on top of the performance game. That makes this one a vital and potent release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ted The Mechanic

The chugging riff that drives this has a lot of soul built into it. This may be modern Deep Purple, but there is really a classic element here. I love the bridge on this, and these guys really fire out a great performance. Steve Morse’s solo is sheer brilliance.

Strange Kind of Woman
They quickly show that they can deliver on a more classic Deep Purple song here. This is another smoking hot tune. I particularly like the keyboard solo, but you can’t argue with Morse’s guitar stylings, either. All in all, this is another killer Deep Purple song, but one might argue that it’s a little too much like the opener. Still, as the extended jam works out, this becomes something that’s not that far removed from heavy metal for a short time.
Bloodsucker
The riff that drives this is even stronger than the first couple tunes. This really has a classic Deep Purple texture to it. Once again we get another killer instrumental section, at times driven by Morse and at other points by Jon Lord.
Pictures of Home
I’ve always enjoyed this cut a lot. With especially potent performances by Gillan and Lord, this screaming rendition certainly works for me. It should be noted that Roger Glover gets to show off a bit, too, in the jazzy sort of break. Steve Morse purely shines on his tasty solo. In fact, this really has some smoking performances from all instrumentalists on the extended outro.
Almost Human
While in some ways this cut has a more modern sound, the guitar solo section is really very much like a bluesy old school Deep Purple texture. There’s also some smoking hot keyboard soloing from Lord.
Woman from Tokyo
Another definite Deep Purple classic, they deliver a good rendition. I’ve never been completely sold on this cut, but it still works well. Yes, I know a lot of people really love this one. The mellower mid-section really seems kind of lackluster here, though. That said, I dig the piano solo.
Watching the Sky
This might not be the instant classic that a lot of the other stuff here is, but it’s arguably the strongest cut on show. It’s one of the most “different” pieces and it’s got some great performances here. This is dynamic and dramatic, and extremely powerful. I love it.
Fireball
Here’s another of my personal Deep Purple favorites. It’s frantic and powerful and they give us a lot of cool instrumental exploration on this one. It’s certainly another highlight of the set. There’s an interesting little bit at the end of this that I swear is King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.”
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
This is certainly the most “different” piece here. It’s sort of like a power ballad, but there is both a lot of classic rock here and some jazz. It’s a cool tune, but doesn’t really feel like Deep Purple for the most part. That said, that change is a well-needed bit of variety. This is quite a dynamic tune and works out towards progressive rock in the powered up jam later.
Smoke On The Water
They start things here with a full-on take of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” From there they launch out into Jimi Hendrix. As this medley continues they head down to the “Crossroads,” then touch on the Beatles and then the Kinks seemingly via Eddie Van Halen. Putting the classic riff in that context, it really showcases Deep Purple’s place in musical history. While I think this tune is certainly overdone, it’s probably not possible for Purple to do a show without playing it. The fans would probably revolt. I like this live take quite a bit. While this number lends itself to a heavier, nearly metal arrangement, here they bring a real classic rock groove to it. There is also a little audience sung portion in the midst of it.
Black Night
Here we get another classic Deep Purple tune, although this one might not be the household name many of the others are. It’s got a cool riff driving it and we get a strong performance. It’s not all that much different from some of the other tunes here, though.
Highway Star
The final track of the set is another Deep Purple classic. The introduction here is dramatic and powerful and you really can’t go wrong with this song. The instrumental section later in the piece is a real screamer here, and this is definitely one of the highlights of the set, making it a great final outing.
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