IAN GILLAN & ROGER GLOVER – Accidentally on Purpose (1988 Virgin)
Shit LeBrain’s Customers Said
I was playing this album in-store one afternoon in the 90’s. A customer walked up to me and asked what I was playing.
“This is a side project by Ian Gillan and Roger Glover from Deep Purple,” I answered
He responded, “Roger Waters from Pink Floyd?“
What…? No! No! You got just two words of that right: “Roger” and “from”!
Deep Purple’s The House of Blue Light was an incredibly difficult album to make, especially for Ian Gillan. A working vacation was in order, so he and Glover took off for the Caribbean. They settled in to Sir George Martin’s recording studio AIR Montserrat, to record whatever they felt like. The result was the light and tropical Accidentally on Purpose, an album that Gillan says has become the favourite record for a number of his friends. He is very proud of it, especially since it came on the heels of a terrible creative experience in Deep Purple. It would not have been born if not for the gloomy Purple process. Many guests contributed to the jovial sessions, such as Dr. John, George Young, and Andy Newmark.
Jump in your TARDIS, and travel back in time to 1987. Your destination: a tropical island with plenty of rum, beaches and a recording studio. Can you picture it? Can you hear the sounds of the late 80’s in your mind? Then you can imagine what Accidentally on Purpose sounds like.
There are no “Clouds and Rain” in the images in my mind, only boats and surf and sand. Glover plays bass and keyboards, Newmark is on drums, while George Young contributes a light sax solo. This is not for most Deep Purple fans, most assuredly. This is for those who want to open their minds and have a trip into the clouds and sunshine. This is about as light as light rock gets, but there is a quality to it above the pop morass.
Hard hitting electronic drum beats back “Evil Eye”, a much edgier track. Still, don’t expect guitars, solos or Ian Gillan to scream his ass off. If you enjoy the kind of pop rock that Robert Plant was doing in the 80’s, you’re in the right ballpark for this. It’s blatantly commercial compared to Deep Purple, but at the same time it’s not because there are musical challenges to be found here.
“She Took My Breath Away” is a sweet love song, similar musically to the brightness of “Clouds and Rain”, but relying too much on electronics. Then they get goofy on “Dislocated” which sounds like Ian Gillan having a blast. (I recognize one of the keyboard voices on this song from our old Yamaha back in the day!) Glover’s enjoying himself too; he plays some brilliant bass parts, very different from Deep Purple. “Via Miami” ended the first side with an old time rock and roll party! It’s the first significant guitar rocker, and it sounds like something the Honeydrippers could have gotten away with. (In fact Plant would sound brilliant singing this.) Bring on the sax!
There is plenty more guitar on “I Can’t Dance to That”, which unfortunately is not a good song. It is not different enough from Deep Purple rawk, but not good enough for Deep Purple. The old blues classic “I Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave” is incredible, giving Ian a chance to sing something different, and he does it with lung power! Dr. John on the keys lends it that funky N’awleans drawl. If you were to make a mix tape of Ian Gillan’s finest vocal performance, then this song should be on it. The skippable “Lonely Avenue” only has synth to back it; largely forgettable. Synth-rocking to “Telephone Box” is more fun; it’s probably the best rocker on the album. Cool female backing vocals make Gillan sound even more suave. He breaks out his trusted congas on it, and truthfully you could imagine the Deep Purple of today performing a song like this now.
The last tune on the record was “I Thought No”, rocking bluesily along to the end. If you want a drunken, laidback jam session with scads of harmonica to go, then “I Thought No” will deliver the right thrills. Just open a bottle and dive in…but the CD offers three more bonus tracks! The cool rockin’ blues of “I Thought No” is contrasted by the most nauseating track, “Cayman Island”. Ian’s done some kind of Jamaican twist to his accent. Pure synth, with all those keyboard presets I remember from the 80’s, that’s “Cayman Island”! And I love every second of it, as terrible as it is. No matter how much you hate “Cayman Island”, you have to be a real hard hearted bastard if you don’t like “Purple People Eater”. That’s exactly the song you think it is, and who better to do it than the guys from Purple? You want a golden oldie performed by the guy who loves the golden oldies the most? I sure do so fuck off if you don’t! It’s brilliant, and you just gotta dance. The last song is a synth throwaway called “Chet”, which references a boat called the Carrie Lee; Gillan also name-dropped the vessel in Cayman Island.
Accidentally on Purpose probably kept Ian and Roger sane at the time. That has to be why it sounds so gleeful. They needed this. Does a Deep Purple fan “need” this? No. But they’d find some good times here regardless.