The House Of Blue Light

Deep Purple

Mercury, 1987

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


Three years after a highly successful ‘80s comeback by the classic Mark II lineup of Deep Purple (Gillan, Glover, Lord, Paice, and Blackmore) after more than a decade apart, the band attempted to keep the momentum going with its 1987 album, The House Of Blue Light.

The bad news is that old tensions flared up once again during the recording sessions, most likely between Gillan and Blackmore, who have a long history of animosity towards one another. This shows in the final result, which is a dull, workmanlike affair. Passionless, with flat performances by all concerned, The House Of Blue Light unflatteringly captures the band going through the motions, seemingly releasing new material solely for the sake of having new product available on the market to keep their name in the public eye and provide an excuse to tour. The awful, sterile production that saps the album’s potential power does not help matters either.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It seems they were torn by what musical direction to go in, which results in an uneasy sounding foray into more mainstream, commercial territory, with very mixed results. Tracks like the silly mid-tempo pop metal of “Call Of The Wild” (which wouldn’t be out of place on a Def Leppard record) and the overly macho, dark riff rocker “Bad Attitude,” despite having decent hooks, sound like the work of a bunch of middle aged guys desperately trying to stay hip and relevant with the MTV generation but unable to pull it off.

Other tracks show more of a head scratching split personality: the synth rocker “The Unwritten Law” has powerful, moody verses that give way to a disappointingly slick chorus; another frustrating example is “Mad Dog,” which has a simple, memorable guitar riff and a great head banging pace but is weighed down by predictable chord changes during the verses. Other songs like “Black & White” and “Hard Lovin’ Woman” are inoffensive but utterly dull exercises you’ll likely never get the urge to listen to again.

The quality picks up a bit in latter stages of the album, starting with the more ambitious musicianship of “The Spanish Archer” (though the vocal melodies are lackluster) and the Eastern flavored pseudo epic “Strangeways,” finally giving Blackmore and Lord (who thankfully is still using his Hammond organ in addition to cheap ‘80s sounding keyboards) solo spots. At seven-and-a-half minutes though without any significant changes, the song drags.

The smoky, heavy blues track “Mitzi Dupree” features a mammoth guitar riff and interesting storytelling vocals in one of the few times that the music doesn’t sound like an awkward fit. The album closer, “Dead Or Alive,” is a catchy, frenetic heavy metal track that would fit right in on a Dio record, complete with an epic classical duel of organ and guitar solos in the middle section.

While the dumbed down approach of The House Of Blue Light does nothing to add to Deep Purple’s influential hard rock legacy, it has enough decent moments on it that could be of interest to fans of the band who are not familiar with this largely forgotten album.

Rating: C+

User Rating: C+


© 2008 Roland Fratzl 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, and is used for informational purposes only.