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Deep Purple

Purpendicular

Review by Larry Toering

After Deep Purple found themselves without a guitarist once again when Joe Satriani left, they quickly settled on Steve Morse and he's been there ever since. While the subsequent albums have been great, this first one was special. You can definitely hear Morse and the rest of the band getting to know each other musically and it's a sheer joy to experience. To this day, it's as fresh as the second it came out. There are many compelling tracks to choose from and every one of them showcases a different variety of rock music. This is a review of the Japanese disc which not only includes a bonus track, but has the best quality sound you will find. This is a contender for their best post-1984 release, with Blackmore or not. This is not an album anyone at the time would expect to hear from Deep Purple or any band who'd been around for over 25 years.. I rate this disc up with the best in their entire illustrious history.

Track by Track Review
Vavoom: Ted Mechanic

Straight out of the gate Morse slams out a chicken pickin' bit that sounds appropriately like a wrench clanking around, and then another slam hits you in the face with a huge grunge style riff backed by a killer beat that kicks in. Wow, it’s almost too much to take in by the time Paice comes crashing in to the mix. There’s a big difference in the mid range as well, with Glover playing like a demon himself. This is about a guy who goes to the local watering hole and gets his life story written down on a napkin. It was pulled from an old idea Gillan had lying around, but you'd never know it, as this isn't your traditional Purple song. It is very Gillan oriented, but if I had one complaint here it would be that his voice is a little under mixed. This is a killer opener!

Loosen My Strings

This starts off with some brief modern chords from Lord's organ and then a surprisingly sweet bass line comes in as if it's the main riff, but it's really not, it's just a section of the song. Next, the guitar enters and Gillan sings about just that, a guitar and all it's good for. This is one of the best of the Morse era, along with several other songs here. It follows a mid-tempo groove all the way, with some very testy high vocal parts from Gillan that are wonderful. The bass line comes back and it's all very soothing as Morse takes two solos of the sublime variety.

Soon Forgotten

This is a track I tend to skip, but it opens with a grating organ pounding that sounds a little like “Strawberry Fields.” Then it goes into a circus style number with some tasty guitar input from Morse and an English accented vocal from Gillan. Things go very metal on this, which is why it isn't on par with everything else here in my opinion. I do like that intro though, as Lord also takes it out the same way. It's the middle where I got lost, and I don't often say that concerning Purple.

Cascades: I'm Not Your Lover

After the last number, this is a breath of fresh air with a more traditional Purple style. This, just as the opening track, comes with a sub title. There is an opening muffled speech from Lord on this too, it's just a little word play on wedding vows. In the middle of the track they sound more like Blackmore never left, but then Morse goes into his solo and changes that. All of that aside it's another classic Morse-era track.

Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming

This is probably the best thing on here, and likely the best Morse era track as well. it's certainly gone on to be a fan favorite, anyway. It features a harmonic pinched guitar in the vein of Satriani. It's absolutely brilliant and a perfect example of what they might sound like had Satriani continued with them. It's somewhere between a ballad and a rocker, with Gillan letting out one of his last truly great screams  in the studio to date.

The Aviator

Move over as Morse takes over in this very melodic track. It's at this point where one easily forgets about the Deep Purple of old and either gets on with it or doesn't. Anyhow it's a great number with acoustic guitar, and it sounds an awful lot like a mandolin but apparently it isn't. It's about a dream and air flight. Morse is a pilot so that fits.

Rosas Cantina

Another absolute highlight for me here, this is excellent as Purple go Tex-Mex boogie woogie and it's amazing indeed. It maintains a bass line that won't seem to quit after opening with a percussive organ that harkens back to mark I's “The Shield.” Then Paice slams the cymbals and they're off like there is no tomorrow. Very funky and very cool, this has one of Gillan's greatest harmonica solos ever.

A Castle Full Of Rascals

This is one of the more rocking cuts in the traditional Purple sense. Another favorite of the die hards, it carries an angular riff from Morse that packs a heavy background for Gillan to rant about the state of the political system. And rant he does, with brilliance, as this features some fantastic lyrics full of fun and some very tasty licks from Morse toward the end. This is pure Gillan sass.

A Touch Away

This is a lovely little bit of a number with everything in it, including Kansas style guitar and keyboards. The vocal key is just where I like it, a falsetto that weaves perfectly in and out of the arrangement like a feather blowing around, and that's pretty much what it's all about. Man it's nice to hear them stretch out on something like this. It's a thing of beauty, this one.

Hey Cisco

Things go back to a Spanish vibe on this killer track, where Lord and Morse have a chance to riff together in blazing fashion. Notice how Morse takes the arrangement one way and the fired up rhythm section that has never sounded so good, sweeps it back in the other direction like a well oiled robot. It’s awesome!

Somebody Stole My Guitar

This is one of the more back to rock numbers, and it, too, has a down south vibe. It starts off with a cool riff and a beat kicks in with a bit of cowbell (you can never have enough cowbel – edl) and it's just alright for the most part until you hear that voice that makes a song every time. Gillan carries on about a few different experiences in Memphis.

The Purpendicular Waltz

Going out with a bang is the idea, and this is pretty much that. It's a jazzier sort of number so it suits Morse wonderfully. And, once again, Gillan comes on heavy, and deals with getting to this point in the band and feeling no pain. It's obviously what is going on there. This is a great way to take out one of the best Deep Purple albums ever made.

Don't Hold Your Breath (bonus track)

This could fit somewhere on the album but, of course, it's an enticement to buy an import if you want something more. It's worth it because this is another fine number with another great performance by all. Once it's all over there is no questioning it's Purple, even if it has too much variety for the die hard fans to take.

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