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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Deep Purple

Now What?!

Review by Gary Hill

I definitely would not put every Deep Purple album in progressive rock. This one, though, certainly qualifies. It’s also one of the best albums the group have ever done. I know there are those who will find that sacrilege since the guitarist these days is Steve Morse rather than Ritchie Blackmore. I have to stick with that assessment, though. This is an incredible album. The quality is at a level that I never anticipated when I put it into my CD player. This thing is probably going to wind up on my “best of 2013” list because it’s that good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Simple Song

Fairly mellow, melodic elements open this and the cut grows out a bit like some of the acoustic based Jethro Tull music from the Crest of a Knave era. Gillan’s vocals come over the top of this backdrop as the tune continues moving forward. Around the two minute mark it explodes into a harder rocking jam. The keyboards keep the prog elements in place and although it feels like Deep Purple, even the song structure feels quite proggy. There is a cool keyboard solo section the cut drops down to the opening section to end.

Weirdestan
The riff driven movement that opens this is quite Yes-like. The cut works out from there into a smoking hot Deep Purple jam. There is still plenty of progressive rock on this, but it’s also decidedly DP. That Yesish movement returns later, though. There is also a classic prog keyboard solo in the midst of the piece.
Out of Hand

This number combines a symphonic progressive rock vibe with a classic Deep Purple sound into a real rocker that works very well. There is a killer instrumental section later that includes a great melodic, but quite crunchy, guitar solo.

Hell to Pay

The sound that opens this one is very much progressive rock, but we got more straight ahead DP after that. The keyboard solo segment is both very proggy and very much like old school Deep Purple. Of all the tracks here, this is probably the least “prog.” Still, it’s an accessible rocker that’s quite recognizable as Deep Purple.

Bodyline

Drums open things up here. A guitar riff comes up from there. We get a smoking hot riff driven groove as the tune continues. The cut is trademark Deep Purple and some tasty organ work really drives that home.

Above and Beyond

The early sections of this very much resemble a cross between classic Genesis and Emerson Lake and Palmer in a lot of ways. It modulates out eventually to a more AOR related rocking song structure, but overall, it keeps the prog fire burning in a lot of ways.

Blood from a Stone

There’s almost a Doors proggy groove to this number. The chorus pounds out with major Deep Purple style, but the verses remain in this bluesy kind of sound – a bit like “Riders on the Storm,” perhaps.

Uncommon Man

This starts atmospheric, melodic and very pretty. The cut works through like that as the guitar solos over the top. Several shifts and changes take place as this grows outward. When the vocals eventually enter, the music that serves as the backdrop really makes me think a lot of the Emerson, Lake and Powell album. Around the five minute mark the keyboards take into another cool, mellower, progressive rock jam. Eventually it starts to build out from there. Still, it’s completely progressive rock until it shifts to a harder edged jam after a while.

Apres Vous

There’s a harder rocking, more typical Deep Purple vibe to this cut. Yet, that said, little bursts of proggy jamming emerge here and there along the road. There’s a cool jam later in the track that’s very much like Hawkwind-styled space rock. There’s even a twist toward classical/movie soundtrack music. Some smoking jamming is included with the keyboards and guitar trading licks. Then it explodes out into a killer progressive rock jam from there.

All the Time in the World

After a quick guitar introduction, the cut works out into some great retro styled jamming. This is classic Deep Purple.

Vincent Price

A bit of Phantom of the Opera music is heard, then the group launch out to some killer jamming with a lot of prog in the mix. I think there is some Theremin in this beast. It’s got a great slightly off-kilter sound and would be a good song for a Halloween party. It’s got enough spookiness in the music and in the lyrics and it manages to rock, too. That makes for a real winner. There are some cool instrumental breaks that definitely bring in more of that prog element here and there. The guitar solo section calls it more into classic Deep Purple territory.

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