Deep Purple

CMC International Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I've been a bit lax in keeping up with the Deep Purple genealogical charts, but if I've added everything correctly, we're now on Deep Purple Mk V (Mk III was the David Coverdale era, Mk IV would be the Joe Lynn Turner album). After Ritchie Blackmore flew the coop for the second time in Deep Purple's career, former Dixie Dregs axeman Steve Morse stepped in to fill the position that some claimed could never be filled. (I have yet to pick up Purpendicular, the first album featuring Morse... gimme a break, this gig doesn't pay well.)

With the recent release of Abandon, one would think that Deep Purple would know the pitfalls to avoid in their music. Unfortunately, they don't - but as often as they stumble, they also fall upon new, unplowed ground for them.

I don't know who's responsible for this - the band and Roger Glover for production work, or Darren Schneider's mixing job - but whoever buried Ian Gillan's vocals on this album should be hung by their manhood. When I listen to an album, I actually - God forbid - expect to hear the singer!!! Simply put, the overall sound of this album sucks - and after over 30 years in the business, I'd expect that Deep Purple should know better. (How do you expect to have a hit single in "Any Fule Kno That" when I can't hear what the fuck you're singing?!? HUH???my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Ahem, pardon me... There are some moments on Abandon that show you that there is a lot of new ground for Deep Purple to cover. Songs like "Whatsername" provide a slow, plodding groove that hook the listener almost immediately. If this song hasn't been considered for a single, it should be right quick. And, for the first time that I can remember in a long time, the band explores an acoustic vein on "Fingers To The Bone," a song documenting the plight of the farmworkers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. If Bruce Springsteen could only have captured it so poignantly.

The rhythm core of the band - bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice and keyboardist Jon Lord - are strong as ever; I can't remember a time I didn't like their work as Deep Purple's backbone. However, Morse doesn't quite seem comfortable in his role as the lead guitar player yet. Oh, on the decent songs, he shines - but on cuts like "Whatsername," it sounds like he's doing a Blackmore impersonation. (Morse does add his own guitar voice to "Fingers To The Bone," which probably makes the track that much more magical.)

In a sense, it's almost like Morse is too technical - aw, who am I kidding, he's too good for Deep Purple. Sure, the others are talented musicians. But Morse is a much more technical player, while Blackmore was very much a groove guitarist. Once Blackmore got locked in the rhythm, all you had to do was sit back and watch. Morse is almost trying too hard. In all fairness, maybe it's going to take some time to get used to him being in the band; I've never really taken change in Deep Purple that well.

Much of the music on Abandon follows a cookie-cutter formula for Deep Purple: rhythm section, vocals, throw in a guitar and/or organ solo for flavor. Some of the music, like "Don't Make Me Happy" and "Evil Louie," is slower than I'm used to for Deep Purple, and is okay to listen to. Other songs that could have been cuts worth remembering, such as "Jack Ruby," "'69" and "Any Fule Kno That," just fall faster than a diver jumping off a building as pictured on the album cover.

True, it might take some time before it feels natural for Morse to be in the lead guitarist's chair for Deep Purple. But unless the songwriting gets a little fresher and they fix the piss-poor mix of this album, there aren't going to be a lot of new fans knocking on Deep Purple's back door.

Rating: C-

User Rating: D-



© 1998 Christopher Thelen 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 CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.