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Purple - Rapture of the Deep
Review No: 256
Steve Morse: Guitars
Don Airey: Keyboards
Roger Glover: Bass
Ian Paice: Drums
‘Rapture of the Deep’ is Deep Purple’s eighteenth studio album in their long illustrious career which started in 1968 when they changed their name from ‘Roundabout’ to ‘Deep Purple’. The band did actually split up in 1976 before reforming in 1984, which, depending upon your view point, makes the band 29 years old or 37 years old!
During this time Deep Purple have become a bit like Triggers broom, always the same broom, but many different brushes and shafts. In their career Deep Purple have only ever had one drummer, Ian Paice, who has banged every drum on every album and every concert, making Deep Purple the complete negative image of Spinal Tap (in the Tap the drummer keeps on self combusting or dying in a nasty gardening accident).
In comparison, Deep Purple have had two bass players (although Roger Glover was fired once but came back), two keyboard players, four guitar players (if you count Joe Satriani) and five singers (if you count Glenn Hughes and take into account that Ian Gillan has actually been fired twice and rejoined three times).
This line up that recorded ‘Rapture of the Deep’ have been the same for two albums: the previous ‘Bananas’ (2003) and this magnificent album. In fact, apart from Don Airey replacing the retiring John Lord on keyboards the band has been stable for the last four studio albums, starting with ‘Purpendicular’ (1996) and ‘Abandon’ (1998).
‘Rapture of the Deep’ is probably the best
album to come out under the Deep Purple banner since ‘Machine Head’
(1972). A bold statement I know, but then we are dealing with an extremely
high quality album here played by a very fine bunch of musicians at the
height of their collective powers. They have all been in the music business
for forty years (apart from the young guitarist who is rapidly reaching
Ian Gillan is recognized as the voice of both Deep Purple and the hard rock genre. Apart from Deep Purple he has also lent his throat to singing the original lead part in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webbers ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, led his own band ‘Gillan’, ‘Garth Rocket and the Moonshiners’ and for one album was lead singer in ‘Black Sabbath’.
On bass is Roger Glover whose rhythm section with Ian Paice is good enough reason to keep Deep Purple on the road. Apart from his Purple bass lines Roger Glover has also played with ‘Rainbow’, produced several fine solo albums, and taken a turn at production work including such bands as ‘Nazareth’ and ‘Rory Gallagher’.
Guitarist Steve Morse, apart from winning guitarist of the year five consecutive times in Guitar World magazine, has produced many fine instrumental albums with his own band ‘The Steve Morse Band’ as well as holding down axe duties with ‘Dixie Dreggs’ and ‘Kansas’.
Behind the drums Ian Paice, whilst unemployed during Purple’s eight year sabbatical, played drums for ‘Whitesnake’ and ‘Gary Moore’.
Keyboard player Don Airey had previously played with ‘Colosseum 2’ and ‘Rainbow’. Mott the Dog is well impressed by their pedigree.
The first album by this combination, ‘Bananas’, was a fine rock album, but had a slight bedding down feeling. Now after the band has been together for two years you get the real deal.
The album opens up with some sinister Star Wars type effects from Don Airey’s keyboards, before the rest of the band come rumbling in as only Deep Purple can. It is not so much heavy metal as in music that is being held very tightly.
‘Money Talks’ is a perfect opener, as it has a rock solid rhythm section, good solos from Airey and Morse, and Ian Gillan is in fine voice. Ian Gillan is always at his best singing about the things he likes, and on this album he gets plenty of opportunity to sing about money, girls, drinking, and the absurdities of the world at large. One cannot help but smile as Ian Gillan opens up with:
“I was young and healthy,
Well Mr Gillan I am glad for you that money talks to you, it always just sneers at Mott as it passes him by and goes onto Mrs Mott and the pups.
The album carries on in fine style without a filler track in sight. ‘Girls Like That’ expounds the virtues of the fairer sex, whilst Ian Gillan protests his innocence during ‘Wrong Man’, giving plenty of room for some fine instrumental jousting between the keyboards of Don Airey and the six strings of Steve Morse, the like of which has not been heard on Purple albums since the days of Lord and Blackmore on ‘Speed King’ from ‘In Rock ‘ (1970). The next time a Deep Purple greatest track album is put out, one of the tracks from this album that definitely has to go on is the title track ‘Rapture of the Deep’, an absolute Purple classic.
‘Clearly Quite Absurd’ is a thought provoking ballad with Ian Gillan speaking the words as only he can over a very fulfilling Purple backing which builds throughout the song, bringing things to a rousing conclusion. This is followed by three excellent Purple rockers that would get the most uptight foot tapping, including more jousting between Morse and Airey, whilst Ian Gillan lets go with some classic rock screams.
‘MTV’ is the sound of musicians venting their fury at ignorant journalists (the same way that Pink Floyd did with ‘Have A Cigar’ and Nazareth with ‘Telegram’). Ian Gillan plays this journalist rapping to a funky rock beat.
“Mr Grover ‘n’ Mr Gillian
‘Junkyard Blues’ is a good knock about rock song for the Purple boys to show off their wares where Steve Morse and Don Airey are invited off their group leashes, and allowed to solo at leisure, which is a perfect way to bring the rockin’ face of this album to a close before we are gently led off into the purple sunset by the lilting ballad ‘Before Time Began’, a fine way for a fine album to draw to a close.
The artwork for the album by Tom Swick is excellent,
much better than the rather naff Bananas cover, and the album comes in
a nice digi-pack case with a booklet. The music has been excellently produced
in the studio by Michael Bradford, and it is nice to see that after all
these years Bruce Payne is still at the reigns of the management. Keep
on rockin’ Purple.