let's get this right up front, I do not
care how old these guys are; how relevant
they are to today's music; or what right
they have to the name of Deep Purple.
Nor do I care that Bananas is a wonderfully
stupid name to call a Rock 'n' Roll album.
Rock 'n' Roll is supposed to be fun. Where
would it be without humor? (Frank Zappa
was a serious musician with a wonderful
sense of humor.)
Bananas is a great Hard Rock album by
a bunch of top musicians. Deep Purple
have been going since 1968 with a break
from 1976-1984, during which there was
not an actual band called Deep Purple
in circulation. So, depending your point
of view the band is either celebrating
their 27th anniversary, or the 35th. If
you do not count the mountains of live
albums and compilations, this is their
seventeenth studio album. Confused yet?
You soon will be.
Bananas is the first release of new material
in five years and the first Deep Purple
album not to feature the talents of Jon
Lord on keyboards, who retired from the
band (but not music) last year to make
way for Don Airey. This is Airey’s
first studio outing with the band, and
very admirably he does, too. It is lead
guitarist Steve Morse's third studio album
with Purple, and lead vocalist Ian Gillan's
tenth. Bassist Roger Glover counts it
as his eleventh, and sitting behind the
drums for his seventeenth Deep Purple
album is one of the world's finest Rock
'n' Roll drummer, Mr. Ian Paice. He has
also played drums at every Deep Purple
show that has taken place. When Deep Purple
was on a sabbatical from 1976-1984, Ian
Paice kept his hand in by drumming for
P.A.L., Whitesnake (both of whom featured
Jon Lord), and Gary Moore, both in the
studio and live in concert. So Ian Paice
makes Deep Purple the complete mirror
image of Spinal Tap by keeping the drum
position the only stable one.
For variation there has never been a
Deep Purple album to compare to Bananas.
You would have to go back to the heady
days of 1972 and Machine Head to find
the band in more classic form. Although
almost all Deep Purple albums have their
good moments, this one has class stamped
all the way through the Bananas.
Opener 'House of Pain' is a typical Purple
rocker with a great opening guitar lick
from Steve Morse before the rest of the
band come rocking in. Then you get Ian
Gillan, the only real voice of Deep Purple,
breaking in on top of the band to sing
about… Guess what! ....the wonders
of sex. Remember, I said there was great
variation on this album. I never said
things had completely changed. Then we
get a short sharp solo from Steve Morse,
then Don Airey, before they both compete
with each other in a duel between keyboards
and sixstring before Gillan brings the
song to a conclusion with the final verse.
'House of Pain' will make a great new
opener to the Purple live set.
This is followed by the heavy rock of
'Sun goes down'. Deep Purple have never
been heavy metal and this song is a good
example of their own hard rock genre,
giving new boy Don Airey another chance
Third song 'Haunted’ is one of
the album’s many highlights, a ballad
which will now surely replace the over
familiar 'When a Blind man cries' in the
live set. The emotional guitar solo from
Steve Morse is accompanied with a tour
de force vocal performance from Ian Gillan,
and the behind string arrangements from
the master of his art Paul Buckmaster.
When Deep Purple write a song called
'Razzle Dazzle', does this dog have to
tell you what it's about or what it will
sound like? 'Silver Tongue' is a real
down and dirty rocker driven along by
the dynamic rhythm section of Roger Glover
and Ian Paice. Keeping these two together
is good enough reason for me getting Deep
Purple on the road. Has there ever been
a better pairing in Rock 'n' Roll?
The one complaint I overheard from other
Purple fans is that if you have the best
guitarist in the world, why not use him
more on your records? Well, Steve Morse
gets to do a short solo on every track
on the album, and it must be remembered
that this is a Deep Purple album, of which
Steve is a member. It is not a Steve Morse
album. So if you want to hear a seven
minute guitar solo by Steve Morse, go
and buy his solo album.
'Walk On', the following song, is a perfect
example of harmony; sounding almost like
a studio jam, where every member of the
band sounds comfortable in each others
'Picture of Innocence' is a genuine funky
song given the Purple treatment almost
as if there had been a collaboration between
the band and the late great Ian Dury.
'I got your Number' would make a great
single for the band and will probably
be used with great effect on stage, where
the boys will stretch it out, making room
for longer solos.
'Never a Word' is a number with Steve
Morse sounding a little too medieval,
and the vocals too weak to this dogs ears;
causing a deduction of one precious star.
I would of preferred to hear the electric
instrumental 'Well Dressed Guitar', which
the band played at the Impact Arena in
Bangkok in 2002, when we were told it
would be on the next studio album.
'Never a Word' is the weakest song on
the album. But the ball is quickly picked
up again on the rocking 'Bananas', when
Morse and Airey really role up the sleeves
and have a proper dig. The result is spectacular.
A rush of notes bursts out of your speakers
with Ian Gillan joining in on Harmonica
to bring the song to a rousing conclusion.
'Doing it Tonight' is another fine hard
rock song with a very obvious subject
matter. Hey, why not? 'Contact Lost' closes
the album out with a beautiful instrumental
led by Steve Morse. Go Bananas.
Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew