One of the most important (and best) releases you’ll see here this year. The British rock legends’ 20th studio album which sees the current line-up on blistering form. Long since settled and cemented, Morse’s guitar and Airey’s rich keyboards are solid, it’s as if they’ve always been there.
Four years on from Now What?!, itself a wonderful album, and the new album has already been making waves, with Radio2 airplay, a couple of singles and the album making an impact in charts around the world. The band have come a long way since their late 60s inception and the early 70s hits of Strange Kind Of Woman and Smoke On The Water. And thank god for that. While some fans seem firmly rooted in the past, the band certainly aren’t; every album is a journey and they’ve come a long way. And this album immediately proves that the progression, like the attitude and musicianship, comes with maturity, the band still head and shoulders above so many.
And from the outset, one thing that stands out and that has always distinguished singer Ian Gillan apart from everyone is his phrasing; I’ve heard that that is how some recognised the new Purple material on the radio.
‘Time For Bedlam’ opens with a futuristic feel, the guitar is smooth, the keyboards progressive, there’s a dark edge and it rocks. ‘Hip Boots’ is more in-your-face, the frenetic keyboard work totally Airey’s own yet would make (original pianist and founder member) Jon Lord proud, and Steve Morse’s guitar now intrinsic to the band’s sound.
There is not one weak song here, the ebb and flow of direction (including a jazz and rock’n’roll nod) remains perfect Purple all the way and lyrics avoid the usual rock clichés. Some soaring guitar in ‘Birds Of Prey’ matches Gillan’s power well. ‘Johnny’s Band’ has a commercial feel and nods to Perfect Strangers, hence its heavy Radio playlisting.
A wonderful album that is rounded off by a rousing, rocking and bluesy rendition of ‘Roadhouse Blues’, a Doors song that features some excellent harmonica.
A number of special editions as well as singles with a plethora of bonus tracks means that there is another album’s worth of material out there that may prove hard (or expensive) to complete, but the basic 10 tracks will be enough to satiate many a fan. Whether a fan of Deep Purple or just quality rock music, it’s a great album.
Time for Bedlam
All I Got Is You
One Night in Vegas
Get Me Outta Here
On Top of the World
Birds of Prey
Ian Paice – drums
Ian Gillan – lead vocals, harmonica
Roger Glover – bass
Steve Morse – guitar, vocals
Don Airey – keyboards
Bob Ezrin – additional keyboards, backing vocals & percussion
Tommy Denander – additional guitar
Bob Ezrin – producer, mixing
Justin Cortelyou – engineer, mixing