Perfect Strangers

Deep Purple

Mercury Records, 1984

REVIEW BY: Bill Ziemer


Formed in England in 1968, Deep Purple has gone on to become one of the most successful (and longest lived) rock bands in history. At one point, Deep Purple was listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as rock's loudest band.

Deep Purple has had its share of lineup changes. By the early '70's, disputes between vocalist Ian Gillian and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore caused Gillian to defect, being replaced by David Coverdale. Eventually, Blackmore departed to form Rainbow, and was replaced by Tommy Bolin on Come Taste the Band. Afterward, Purple remained silent until 1984, when the classic lineup reformed to release Perfect Strangers.

If Deep Purple ever had a weakness, it was a lack of identity. In the early days, they were a band with a fat organ sound. Later, Blackmore's guitar work became more prevalent and they became a hard rock outfit. But there was never any consistency, and you could never be sure what you would wind up with on a Deep Purple album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Perfect Strangers was a departure from all of these problems. It could be their best work. If not, it's certainly their most rounded. It's a rock album from beginning to end, and quite frankly, they never sounded so good together.

Anchoring the album are two tracks, "Knocking At Your Back Door", and the title track, "Perfect Strangers". Both are rooted firmly in the Deep Purple rock and roll plan. They're long, lumbering 4/4 droaners that allow Blackmore the freedom to play guitar in a way that influenced the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen. Jon Lord's organ adds the glue that "sticks" the band together, giving our ears something to listen to while there are breaks in the action.

The organ is most powerful on "Mean Streak". It's a throwback to the early days in Deep Purple's history. But it's also here that we see exactly what Deep Purple really is: a rhythm band. Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums) keep everything going, while Lord's keys and Blackmore's guitar add little accents of spice here and there. Gillian's voice sits atop all this, telling a story of a drunken girlfriend.

On "Hungry Daze" we see influences acquired during the band's separation. Gillian's voice, at times, sounds like it did on his release with Black Sabbath. Blackmore adds guitar work that reminds me of Rainbow.

The album ends with "Not Responsible" Gillian's "fuck you" anthem, where he explains that he'll do anything he wants, and accept no responsibility for his actions.

Perfect Strangers was a rare album for Deep Purple. Never had the band sounded so cohesive. Never had they managed such a consistent sound over an entire album. Perhaps that's why they decided to call the album Perfect Strangers. Maybe they were five guys, so different that they were strangers to each other really. Vastly different people, that complimented each other so perfectly, just once.

(Editor's note: Since Bill wrote this review, a re-mastered version of this CD, with two bonus tracks, has been released.)

Rating: B+

User Rating: B+



© 1997 Bill Ziemer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercury Records, and is used for informational purposes only.