Deep Purple

earMUSIC, 2020


REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker


Twenty-five years after Steve Morse debuted as Deep Purple’s guitar player, the band remains as inspired and rejuvenated as it sounded on Purpendicular after a toxic divorce from Ritchie Blackmore. Whoosh! Brings with it a lucky 13 songs without a single weak one among them, and if it proves to be the band’s final studio effort, then it is a fine one to sign off on.

The choice of singles from the album captures the broad range of songs on Whoosh!. “Throw My Bones” has a great groove and would make for an excellent opener if the band wanted to showcase new songs in concert. Its catchiness brings to mind “Ted The Mechanic” from Purpendicular, with a notable difference: Steve Morse's guitar solo is short and succinct, which works great on an album where most songs run less than four minutes in length and gives them a polished sound. “Nothing At All” features some great interplay between Steve Morse and Don Airey that led Ian Gillan to name the song as his favorite. The third single, “Man Alive,” is one of the longest songs on the album and brings a variety of sounds: from a soft introduction, to a heavy guitar groove backed by Airey’s keys, to Gillan’s delivery of a spoken word section midway through. Some may pine for the days of headbangers like “Space Truckin’,” but any fans who’ve embraced the post-Blackmore era will be delighted to hear the band age like fine wine. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Among the strongest points of Whoosh! is the time given to Don Airey on keyboards. Since joining Deep Purple in 2002, he has avoided replicating Jon Lord’s trademark use of tube distortion and overdrive or playing in sync with the guitar. “No Need To Shout” (which Ian Paice termed “the rock n’ rolly one” in an interview) and “Step By Step” let Airey shine with a stronger presence than on past albums. Ian Gillan, too, remains in strong shape at the young age of 75.  Whether it’s his commentary on social issues such young offenders’ stabbings in the United Kingdom, with “Drop The Weapon,” or a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor, there’s plenty to enjoy in the lyrics. “What The What” is particularly good, though it doesn’t match the classic verse of “So we put her on the hit list / Of a common cunning linguist” from Perfect Strangers’ “Knockin’ On Your Back Door.” 

With Ian Paice the last man standing from Deep Purple’s original lineup, a re-recording of 1968’s “And The Address” from Shades Of Purple brings the sense of coming full circle. Suggested by producer Bob Ezrin as a tie to the past, lest Whoosh! prove to be the band’s final effort, it’s a rendition of an instrumental groover that pays due respect to the original. The closing track, “Dancing In My Sleep,” is carried by a nice bassline and features Steve Morse leaving his signature Ernie Ball guitar behind for a change – soloing instead on a Danelectro! It's a quirky bit of novelty for his longtime fans.

If this proves to be the last DP album, it’s an excellent way for the band to wrap up. Inspired, enthusiastic, professional, still recording new songs, it’s the polar opposite of Ritchie Blackmore’s work in 2020 – the most recent of which is a guest solo on William Shatner’s cover of “The Thrill Is Gone.”

Rating: A-

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