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Deep Purple - 2013 Now What?!




ARTIST: Deep Purple
ALBUM: Now What?!
LABEL: Ear Music (Edsel Group)
SERIAL: 208577ERE
YEAR: 2013

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Ian Gillan - vocals * Steve Morse - guitar * Roger Glover - bass * Ian Paice - drums * Don Airey - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 A Simple Song * 02 Weirdistan * 03 Out Of Hand * 04 Hell To Pay * 05 Bodyline * 06 Above And Beyond * 07 Blood From A Stone * 08 Uncommon Man * 09 Apres Vous * 10 All The Time In The World * 11 Vincent Price * 12 It'll Be Me (bonus, 2LP and limited edition CD)

RATING:

WEBLINKS: deeppurple-nowwhat.com/wp


Background
Having never been overly enamored with the Morse era Purple lineup, the eight year gap between 'Rapture Of The Deep' and 'Now What?!' isn't one that's particularly bothered me. After all I think most of us know what to expect from this lineup by now and the likelihood of another major hard rock classic is pure fantasy. For a band this legendary so far into their career it's hard not to blame them for taking their time, although the use of veteran producer Bob Ezrin was a factor that interested me in this album, if only because of his reputation. In many ways this sounds more like a classic Purple album than the last two did, especially with more progressive elements included. Then again if you've heard 'Bananas' or 'Rapture'. then you'll still know what to expect here, with tracks that often lack the spark (Blackmore) that used to make Purple so great. In a nice touch the album is dedicated to the late Jon Lord. It's still hard to believe he will never set foot on stage with the band again.


The Songs
'A Simple Song' takes a few minutes to get into its stride, slowly taking shape as a typical latter day Purple track but with more resounding heaviness than usual. The conclusion of the song sounds like whimsical early 70's folk rock, which couldn't be more opposed to Morse's huge riffs a few minutes earlier. The tepidly titled 'Weirdistan' is I presume directed to the endless war in Afghanistan and for me this is a mixed bag. The chorus is dull, but Airey's keyboard solo is similar in tone to the one used by Lord on 'A 200' way back on 'Burn'. Airey is at the forefront again during 'Out Of Hand', this time with his orchestral synths leading into another bland song, with worn out melody lines and Gillan's lower registry vocal style. It's got the Purple sound but where's the excitement? The obligatory lone faster track appears with 'Hell To Pay' which succeeds with a chanted chorus, something I'm not sure Purple has ever attempted before. This one has Gillan's lyrical style pasted all over it and Morse sounds more like Blackmore here than I've ever heard him. When Airey delves into his organ solo I honestly thought I was listening to something from 'The Book of Taliesyn', a classic throwback. Sadly 'Body Line' isn't about the brutal Ashes series from 1932, but instead a bold raunchy rocker which is a nice change of pace. Glover is prominent throughout and the chorus is remarkably close to AOR, for me the pick of the whole album. Even more startling are Airey's parping synths during 'Above And Beyond' which might have you thinking you've stumbled into an Emerson Lake And Palmer album or even '1984' era Van Halen. Sadly the song itself is ordinary once that segment ends, languishing with another dreary chorus which is quite forgettable.

Another promising track is 'Blood From A Stone' with its vaguely 70's attempts with the organ work, almost a dead ringer for what Led Zeppelin achieved on 'No Quarter'. It's more interesting than Gillan's vocals, which tend to drop the songs value several notches. It's not that Gillan isn't good anymore, but I think having reached his age and not being able to scream like he used to it takes away a certain dynamic from Purple. The song seems rather dour as a result. For those who miss Purple's progressive side then 'Uncommon Man' will have you fumbling for superlatives. Airey and Morse are at their best, playing off each other superbly, with the keyboard work a true showcase by Airey. The vocals are kept to a minimum and this is as close to classic Purple as it gets. It's obvious though that Paice seems fairly inconspicuous however, with the bands style not as explosive anymore, leaving him with little to do. There's nothing noteworthy about 'Apres Vous' which is by the book Purple, but the almost synthesized sounding drums and industrial effects are another new addition to the bands legacy of work. 'All The Time In The World' is Purple at their dullest, one of those low key and dour songs which reminds me just how much I dislike various aspects of this version of Purple. The novelty aspect of 'Vincent Price' with the horror movie organ work and cornball synths is supposed to be humorous naturally, but the ponderous nature of the music is hardly compelling. The Morse solo has a touch of Tommy Bolin to it, probably unwittingly, but it's the only thing worth hearing here.


In Summary
This is probably Purple's best effort since 'Purpendicular' and it's still good to have the band around as three of them reach the tail end of their sixties. About half the album works and the other half doesn't, with still too many tracks which seemingly have little purpose except to retread ideas and themes heard on previous albums. I know that's where Purple are these days musically, but they do branch out here into more unfamiliar areas occasionally and most of them work. They'll always be a great band and while we see Black Sabbath being publicized to death regarding their new album '13', I wonder how many people know Purple are still out there releasing new music? This is a decent addition to the bands history and I think it is worth hearing for anyone on the fence about this album.


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