REVIEW: Deep Purple – Rapture of the Deep (2 CD special edition)

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DEEP PURPLE – Rapture of the Deep (2 CD special edition, 2006 Eagle Rock)

Deep Purple, that hard rock institution that formed back in ’68, has been at it nearly non-stop with critically acclaimed albums and tours since reforming back in ’84. Lineup changes ensued, but by and large the band has retained its integrity even if only one member of the original ’68 lineup remains (drummer Ian Paice). However, this lineup of Purple is still 3/5 of the classic “Mark II” lineup that recorded Machine Head and Perfect Strangers, and is chock full of rock royalty.

Vocalist Ian Gillan is intact, his voice no longer screaming, but still unique and recognizable as a one-of-a-kind. His partner in crime, bassist Roger Glover is here, joining drummer Paice to complete the legendary rhythm section. On guitar is Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs), first joining Purple in ’95 and this being his fourth studio album. “New kid” in the band is keyboardist Don Airey, celebrating his second Purple album here, but no stranger to these guys from his work with Rainbow, Whitesnake, Ozzy and many more.

Airey’s first album with Purple, 2003’s Bananas, was a reboot of sorts. Gone was original member (and legend on the Hammond) the late Jon Lord, for the first time ever in Purple’s history. Also new on board was producer Michael Bradford, who was very much a collaborator. Bananas was a great album, but perhaps a little too commercial for Purple in the long run? Rapture Of The Deep is an attempt to steer Purple back to the sounds of ’71 while still retaining the modern edge that they gained with Bradford. It is raw and uncompromising, not slick at all, definitely and defiantly Deep Purple.

Purple and Bradford have produced here an album that is not an easy first listen, but a very rewarding 6th or 7th listen. If you give it a chance it will become a favourite. Keep in mind, these guys are musicians of the 60’s and 70’s. Back when people still had attention spans, you were supposed to listen to an album 6 or 7 times, usually in one night!

DP RAPTURE TIN INNER

“Money Talks” kicks off the album with the growl of a Hammond B3, that’s how you know this truly is Deep Purple. Morse’s guitar, very different from Ritchie Blackmore’s, leaves a lot of space between the chords. It’s a different kind of riffing, staggered and jagged, fast and genius. Gillan’s lyrics are, as always, witty and full of humour. Only Gillan can chuckle in the middle of a lyric and make it sound like it’s suppose to be there, and he does.

“Girls Like That”, the second song, is more melodic and commercial  A little bit more “Bananas”, and exactly what the album needed after the vicious “Money Talks”. Track 3, “Wrong Man”, has one of the most powerful Morse riffs on the album, and it sounds great live (more on that later). Fantastic song, great chorus.

The centerpiece of the album is the title track, “Rapture Of The Deep”. The guitar part sounds like a Morse trademark, slightly Arabic, rhythmically odd; just an entrancing song and worthy of the Deep Purple canon. As if this wasn’t enough, the next song “Clearly Quite Absurb” is simply one of the best ballads Purple have ever done. This is thanks to another trademark Morse guitar melody, and some wonderful singing by Gillan. The lyrics are emotive and optimistic.  It sounds a lot like material from the wonderful Purpendicular CD, and keep in mind this is a band that doesn’t do a lot of ballads. There’s only this one ballad on Rapture Of The Deep.

Other standout tracks on the album includes “MTV”, a wry look at the life of a band of the “classic rock” format.  Gillan and Glover must be used to certain interviewers getting their names wrong, and only knowing one song, judging by the lyrics:

“Mr. Grover n’ Mr. Gillian, you must have made a million, the night Frank Zappa caught on fire.”

“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” is one of the heaviest tracks, Gillan attempting a scream here and there, sounding like the furious side of Deep Purple is alive n’ well. “Junkyard Blues” is anchored by a solid Glover bassline, simple but metronomic, and then that takes us into the final track, the atmospheric “Before Time Began”. At 6:30, “Before Time Began” is not for people with ADD!

A great album, demanding of your attention. Worthy of your attention. Deep Purple have always had some kind of standards when it comes to studio albums. Even their weakest have some sort of integrity to them. Rapture of the Deep is not an immediate album, nor will it unseat Machine Head as the fan favourite. But it does serve to remind the world that Deep Purple are still a great band, within the confines that age brings with it. Deep Purple are in fact one of the best bands of this age, because they just refuse to sell out.

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The bonus disc here is a treasure, and I am so glad I re-bought this album (third time now) to get these songs!

The “new version” of “Clearly Quite Absurd” sounds like a re-recording to me, with more orchestration. I’m not sure why this was done, the two songs have a similar feel even though they are instrumentally quite different.  Both versions are equally great in my opinion.  Yet even with a great song like this, Purple can’t get their new material on the radio! What a crime! “Things I Never Said” is a great song, a bonus track, with another busy Morse riff.  This is originally from the Japanese release of the CD. Next up, finally released in its studio version (but recorded during the Bananas sessions) is “The Well-Dressed Guitar”. You may remember this instrumental workout from Deep Purple tours and live albums circa 2002 (check out the Live at the Royal Albert Hall CD). Then, five live tracks, the first ever official live tracks with Airey on keyboards! Two are from this new album (“Rapture” and “Wrong Man”), and there are three classics including — yes — “Smoke On The Water”. These tracks prove that no matter who is in the band these days, they still sound like Deep Purple. The other two live tracks are “Highway Star” and “Perfect Strangers”.

4/5 stars.  Now What?!

I also have a single disc 2005 tin version from Edel Records.  This one boasts an enhanced CD with studio footage and an EPK (electronic press kit video) which I’ve never watched.

24 comments

  1. This album really impressed me. I thought the albums, although not bad, had been getting progressively worse since Purpendicular (which was stunning). I thought this was better and more in that vein (like you pointed out) but it didn’t fully grab me until I heard the live Montreaux versions and those made me go back to it again. It just grows and grows on you! I love how they are not afraid to sound their age, if that makes sense?

    I’ve got the tin edition. I think there are some editions of this that are missing the track MTV actually. No idea why.

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    1. I heard something like that as well, maybe the Japanese didn’t get that one, in favour of their bonus track.

      I hope the new one impresses me this way too, and I kind of hope it’s another slow grower. Purpendicular was a slow grower for me. Indeed it was the anticipation of the new one that inspired me to pull this one off the shelf.

      More coming though — look for a Mk III review soon.

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      1. I’m not sure now but I think when it came out in the UK, MTV was a bonus track (albeit mid-album) and there was a standard non-tin edition that didn’t have it.

        The albums that are growers are for life! I’ve got high hope for the new DP.

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        1. That makes sense actually – I believe I bought the tin thinking there was going to be a bonus track. I believe it was advertised as such somewhere. When I got it the tracklist was the same as the Canadian retail version that I already had. So I sold the Canadian one, and bought the deluxe when it came out. I had to hang onto the tin, because it looks neat sitting there.

          Don Airey’s great on this by the by.

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        2. Well, I meant classy as in “sophisticated” or “dignified” so I’m not sure that all DP albums come under that catergory necessarily. Which isn’t a criticism! I’d hate to call an album like In Rock “classy” cause it’s a BEAST! Hahaha

          What do think are the worst DP? I’d vote Bananas and HOBL (without having heard Slaves and Masters or the Cattle Grazes On enough to judge them fairly).

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        3. I like Bananas, and I have some friends who put HOBL on equal footing with Perfect Strangers. I think it’s different for everybody, but I find Cattle Grazes On to be loaded with filler. Probably more so than Slaves or HOBL.

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        4. Cattle and Slaves are the only DP studios I don’t own. I don’t think HBOL is as good as Perfect Street Rangers. It’s not terrible, just average. I think Deep Purple at their worst are still always OK which is probably why people can’t agree on this kind of stuff! I don’t rate Bananas very highly but if it’s on there’s still lots to like about it.

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        5. I think Bananas was a cool album, albeit almost pop-Purple in a sense. It has some great tunes – Haunted, Never A Word, Doing It Tonight – but a lot of the great tunes are not very Purple-like.

          Cattle has some amazing tunes on it, like the title track, Anya, and Solitaire. But it is also loaded with filler. One Man’s Meat. Lick It Up. Just ugh. Seems like after aborting the album with Turner they were rushing to finish.

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        6. Thankfully no. Or maybe unfortunately no. I can’t decide.

          When I got that album, I remember being blown away by the title track (The Battle Rages On). Like really blown away, not just mildly. But then I got the CD for Christmas, and was really underwhelmed. But also in 1993 I was very used to my beloved bands turning in substandard albums.

          I have a review on deck for Battle Rages On, it’ll be interesting to see how it is received.

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        7. That was my reaction to Bananas. I had heard them play one of the songs live (I’ve Got Your Number I think) before the album got released and had high hopes. But then I bought it and got Razzle Dazzle… urgh. Very disappointing. I agree that the best tracks on there are the least Purpley ones!

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  2. Another cool write-up about a record I’ve never heard but, now that this write-up is here, I have to hear it. You know what, man, you keep writing so happily about this stuff, I’m gonna go broke trying to hear everything!

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    1. I’ve been accused of being too kind to suspicious albums in the past. However in this case HMO likes the album too so it’s not just me!

      When it comes to DP, what albums are “needs”? Well, obviously the holy trinity – In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head. Stuff like this falls outside the main body of classics, in an orbit close to my heart. This is the secondary stuff — but an album like Rapture of the Deep by a lesser band would have been the pinnacle!

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  3. My favorite musician of all time is Steve Morse. Deep Purple as an entity is one of my favorites. My initial thought on this album was honestly “forgettable”. I must and will re-visit. And you hit the Purple needs .. Other than Made in Japan. The best live rock album of all time in my opinion. (with kudos to Supertramp – Paris and Rush – Exit Stage Left) The guitar solo on Child in Time on Made in Japan is something out of another planet of musicianship. Steve Morse doesnt make a misstep. His body of work supplants Blackmore overall? perhaps? But Made in Japan is the true NEED in this discussion.

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    1. Meat Man, Made in Japan is a whole other ball of wax to me. I see Deep Purple live and in the studio as two very different things. You’re obviously right about Made in Japan, but I feel that’s a discussion comparing it to other live albums (like the ones you mentioned). I have a 2 CD of Made in Japan, plus a 3 CD called Live in Japan which is a more complete version, and it’s a mindblowing listen.

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  4. I think this is a great album. It has a true Purple sound. Not like Bananas. Bananas was an ok album, not bad, but I didn’t get the Purple feel at all. And it was a bit uneven. Abandon was bad. Really bad. Probably the worst Purple album ever. And that was the follow up to the magnificent Purpendicular, a later Deep Purple classic, right up there with the might Perfect Strangers. That leads me on to House Of Blue Light. Why does people hate that album so much? I love it. Not one bad song on the entire album. The production lacks edge, though and the overall sound is a bit slick and radio friendly, kind of like late Rainbow. Bit the songs are brilliant!

    And I saw that Come Taste The Band was mantioned. I say, maybe the best album of all Purple albums. I love everything about that album, especially with the fantastic Kevin Shirley remix. Wow! And Tommy Bolin totally rules. His guitar sound is just so raw and in your face and his tone and vibrato is excellent – one of my all time guitar players.

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    1. I think Blue Light is hampered in people’s minds by the production and possibly the fact that it was a “sequel” to the reunion album and most people compare it to Perfect Strangers unfairly.

      Gillan doesn’t like Blue Light, but I think that is due to the friction with Blackmore at the time. Mitsy Dupree for example has a demo guitar track on it, because Blackmore refused to play on the song. He hated the lyrics and Gillan refused to change them!

      Anyway I agree with pretty much everything you said here to a certain degree. Love Come Taste the Band. Don’t like Abandon. Feel pretty much the same about Bananas.

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      1. I think it really speak volumes that Mitzi Dupree has the best guitar sound on the whole album. I love that song, but didn’t know about the demo thing. How brilliant.
        When they toured Blue Light, Blackmore refused to play Call Of The Wild live because he thought it was a lame pop song but the others dug it so they played it as a four piece without guitars. Gotta love both Blackmore and the rest of the band for sticking to their guns even though it feels very much kindergarten about the whole internal fighting.

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