Ian Gillan

Forbidden Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Where does Ian Gillan's heart really lie these days: as a member of Deep Purple or as a solo artist carving his own voice into the rock market?

Oh, it's not like he hasn't dabbled in a solo career before. After leaving Deep Purple around 1974, Gillan fronted a solo career that, unlike his days in Deep Purple, didn't make him a superstar. But if the material on his latest solo album Dreamcatcher is any evidence, Gillan's solo career is very much alive.

Unlike the mix of the recent Deep Purple release Abandon, Gillan's vocals are almost crystal clear on this disc. (There are one or two instances where it's more difficult to hear them, but not nearly as hidden as on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Abandon.) His shrieking days apparently long behind him, Gillan instead chose to focus on richer, more meaningful vocals. Added to music that runs the gamut from harder-edged rock to '50s rock to danceable sea captain tales - even to some Celtic and Middle Eastern works, Dreamcatcher succeeds on all levels.

With musical accompaniment taken care of by Steve Morris, Gillan is free to express himself in a manner that I don't think he is able to with Deep Purple. Listening to the almost Indian textures of "Chandra's Coriander," it almost is like new life has been breathed into this rock icon - even if the final product isn't strictly rock. Two words: who cares? If it's this good, it could be disco, for Crissakes.

If you long for the rockin' edge to Gillan, you need look no farther than cuts like "Hard On You," a song which occasionally muffs Gillan's voice. But Gillan refuses to be pigeonholed into the rock category - maybe he was concerned that people would consider this a Deep Purple clone. (Albert, my friend at Forbidden Records, warned me before I listened to this disc, "It's not a Purple-sounding disc." After listening to Abandon, thank God.)

Gillan's rich vocals add just the right edge to songs like "Country Mile," "You Sold My Love For A Song" and "That's Why God Is Singing The Blues". The track "Gunga Din," a tribute to his late father, casually hides sentimentality behind what could have easily been a sailor's drinking song. (Once you read the liner notes, everything becomes clear.)

Will Dreamcatcher solidify Gillan as a solo artist? To the fans, yes; the material on this album demonstrates all of Gillan's strengths, just in case you needed a reminder. To the industry, no - simply because I don't think they're going to know what to do with this album. My advice: play it, and let it speak for itself.

Dreamcatcher might seem to be out at an odd time, coming out at the same rough time as a new Deep Purple release. However, it not only firmly establishes Gillan as one of rock's greatest voices, it also blows some works by his other band out of the water.

Rating: A-

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© 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 Forbidden Records, and is used for informational purposes only.