Now What?!

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Limitless (2017 Classic Rock exclusive CD)

DEEP PURPLE – Limitless (2017 exclusive CD included with Classic Rock #234, April 2017)

You have to hand it to the folks at Classic Rock.  It’s a quality publication that also manages to give out quality free cover-mount CDs.  With all the attention on Deep Purple these days due to their newly released album Infinite, Classic Rock have done the band up in style.  The CD is not just for beginners either.  Limitless (get it?) has a bunch of material from recent vintage and one exclusive track too.  That’s right — one track on this CD is exclusive to Classic Rock, so get on it, collectors!

At 43 minutes, Limitless has the ideal run time for a great listen through.  If you want to check out some new Deep Purple right off the bat, then just dive in.  Tracks 1 and 2 are the first two singles from Infinite:  “Time For Bedlam” and “All I Got is You”.  Both tracks are excellent, and fine samplings of what the current Deep Purple lineup (est. 2003) sound like.  With Steve Morse and Don Airey, the band have gone from strength to strength.  The instrumental prowess on these songs will easily demonstrate why Deep Purple are universally lauded.

Going back one album prior, we have two tracks from the Now What?! period.  The single version of “All the Time in the World” is a nice ballad for inclusion, though I think “Vincent Price” blows everything else on that album away.  Also included is the rock and roll “First Sign of Madness”.  The liner notes state this song is taken from the “Above and Beyond” CD single.  That doesn’t actually appear to be the case, but ” First Sign of Madness” was included as a bonus track on many editions of the Now What?! album.

The second half of Limitless is dedicated to live material, all classics.  “No One Came” from 1971’s Fireball is one of Purple’s most lethal grooves, and is lifted from the deluxe “Gold” reissue of the Now What?! album.  Gillan’s voice strains hard on this one.  A fun version of “Strange Kind of Woman” comes from the double live 2015 Wacken set.  It’s pure delight.  Next, “Perfect Strangers” is always welcome aboard, and this live version comes from the parallel double live 2015 Tokyo release.

Finally the set draws to a close with the Classic Rock exclusive track, a live tape of “Black Night” from Milan, July 21 2013.  Many of the live tracks on the Now What?! reissue come from that gig, but “Black Night” is previously unreleased.  It’s a jamming version, over seven minutes and Morse-heavy.  And there are more live tracks from that gig in the Deep Purple Infinite box set version, which looks just fantastic.

And magazine isn’t bad either!  The Deep Purple interview reveals some of the lighter side of the legendary Gillan/Blackmore relationship, tempered by the passage of time.  Incidentally, the magazine gives Infinite 7/10 stars.  That’s not bad for a band about to hit their 50th anniversary in a year’s time.  Check it out, and enjoy the 8-track CD Limitless while you read along!

4/5 stars

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Top Five(s) of 2013 – Part 1

No bullshit, let’s just get to the lists!  Yes, lists!  This year I asked some past contributors & readers to give me their Top Five Albums of 2013.  Some have left comments with their lists.  So let’s get to the lists — I also threw my hat into the ring!

Lemon Kurri Klopek

5. OST- Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Mostly for the Alan Partridge banter between tracks. Insanely funny stuff from Steve Coogan. Some decent music too. Featuring an eclectic playlist featuring the likes of; The Human League, Glen Campbell, Carly Simon, Sting and OMD.
STEVE4. TravisWhere You Stand
Quietly released in August. Solid record from the Glasgow quartet.
3. David BowieThe Next Day
I’m one of the people who like all eras of Bowie. That’s it.
2. Sigur RósKveikur
Love this band. Everything they’ve done.
1. Steve Earle and The DukesThe Low Highway
Some of the best songs Steve has written. This record is up there for me with I Feel Alright and El Corazon.

Seb

Black_Sabbath_13Sebastien, whom I first met at Sausagefest is a talented guy and you will be hearing from him in the future!  He’s a musician/ producer/ filmmaker/ Star Trek fan and we’ll be collaborating on something in 2014 for sure.   Consider this Seb’s first guest shot.

5. Killswitch Engage –  Disarm the Descent
4. Black Sabbath13
3. Philip H. Anselmo & The IllegalsWalk Through Exits Only
2. Avenged SevenfoldHail to the King
1. Protest the HeroVolition

Tom

Tom is our host at Sausagefest, and one of the Jedi Masters who helped instruct me in the ways of Rock.  Top Five was simply not possible for this rock warrior.

GHOST11. Vista Chino Peace
10. MotorheadAftershock
9. Deep PurpleNOW What?!
8. Charles BradleyVictim of Love
7. AnthraxAnthems
6. VoivodTarget Earth
5. Steve EarleThe Low Highway
4. Black Sabbath13
3. Orange GoblinA Eulogy For The Fans
2. Clutch Earth Rocker
1. Ghost Infestissumam

Meat


You guys already know Uncle Meat from his numerous lists in the past.  Please welcome back the one, the only, the man the myth the legend, Uncle Meat.  He’s submitted a Top 8 this year.  That’s cool with me.

8. MotorheadAftershock
7. EminemThe Marshall Mathers LP 2MEAT
6. Vista ChinoPeace
5. GhostInfestissumam
4. The SadiesInternal Sounds
3. Black Sabbath13
2. Sound City PlayersReal to Reel
1. Steve EarleThe Low Highway

LeBrain

NOW WHAT_0003I thought I had my Top Five nailed down weeks ago.  Then, Aaron threw a spanner in the works by giving me the new Pearl Jam for Christmas.  Instantly enamored with this sure-to-be classic, I had to re-think my Top Five.

Then, just two days ago I realized that one of my albums is a 2012 release.  But I felt so strongly about it, that I can’t take it out.  So here’s a Top Six.


6. Queens of the Stone Age…Like Clockwork
5. Pearl JamLightning Bolt
4. Alice In ChainsThe Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
3. Flying ColorsFlying Colors 2012 release
2. Black Sabbath13
1. Deep PurpleNOW What?!

I would also like to give credit to the new self-titled Dream Theater for putting out an album that caused me to rethink this list over and over and over again!

2013 was an interesting and exciting enough year that I’ve decided to do another buncha lists tomorrow!  We’ll be looking at movies, television and more.  Come back then for some bonus Top 5’s of 2013.

Oh…and HAPPY NEW YEAR!  See you in 2014!

FURTHER READING:  Check out Aaron’s 2013 lists at the KeepsMeAlive.

 

REVIEW: Deep Purple – “Above and Beyond” (CD and 7″ singles)

It’s THE WEEK OF SINGLES!  Each day this week I’ll be bringing you reviews and images of a recent CD or vinyl single acquisition.  Today’s is fresh hot off the presses!  I received this single on Saturday (the 16th).

Yesterday:  Van Halen – “Best of Both Worlds” 7″ single

DEEP PURPLE – “Above and Beyond” (CD and 7″ singles, Edel)

This has been a banner year for Deep Purple singles!  We’ve had “All the Time in the World”, “Hell To Pay”, “Vincent Price” and now “Above and Beyond” from the excellent new album NOW What?!  There’s a “gold” edition of NOW What?! coming soon, and I believe most of the B-sides from these singles will be on it.  Most, but not all…

“Above and Beyond” is one of two songs on the new album dedicated to Jon Lord.  It’s probably the most progressive sounding of the new songs.  It’s certainly one of the most epic.  I think Jon would have loved it.  Canadian producer extraordinaire Bob Ezrin adds his shine on “Above and Beyond”, you can really hear it in the arrangement.

The second track on the CD version is “Things I Never Said” from some editions of Rapture of the Deep.  It was originally from the Japanese CD, and then the “special edition”.  It’s one of the better songs from Rapture, and I’ve always liked Steve Morse’s guitar riff.  I just didn’t need to buy it again on a single…

IMG_00001462Brand new live recordings are the real bait on this single.  The CD has two; I don’t believe either is going to be on the “gold” edition of NOW What?!.  “Space Truckin'” (Rome, Italy 07/22/2013) doesn’t seem as peppy as other live versions I’ve heard.  I suppose that’s why some versions are destined for B-sides, right?  A pair of covers close the CD:  Booker T. and the M.G.’s classic Hammond organ instrumental “Green Onions” and Joe South’s “Hush”.  “Green Onions” serves as an intro to “Hush” essentially.  It’s a great song for a band like Purple to do anyway.  These come from Sweden, 08/10/2013.  Gillan’s struggling a little bit on “Hush”, but Airey and Morse get playful during the solo section, and it’s very reminiscent of how Blackmore and Lord used to interact.

The exclusive bonus track on the 7″ vinyl single is a different recording of “Space Truckin'”.  This one is from Majano, Italy, two days after the other version.  I actually prefer this version to the one from Rome.  I’m not sure why; maybe it’s just that audio illusion of warm vinyl.  Maybe Morse just sounds dirtier.   This single is absolutely beautiful, on purple clear vinyl complete with limited numbered stamp.  Mine?  #1934 of 2000.  I’ll consider myself lucky.  It’s kind of mind blowing to think that there’s an exclusive Deep Purple live recording out there, only 2000 copies made, and I have one of them.

4.5/5 stars

More Purple at mikeladano.com:

Live at Inglewood 1968Deep Purple (1969), Machine Head (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition + vinyl + In Concert ’72 vinyl), Perks and Tit (Live in San Diego 1974), Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition), Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition), Power House (1977), The Battle Rages On (1993), Shades 1968-1998, Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (12 CD), Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD), Rapture of the Deep (2 CD Special Edition), “All the Time in the World” (2013 CD single), NOW What?! (2013) Record Store Tales Part 32: Live In Japan, STEVE MORSE BAND – StressFest (1996), ROCK AID ARMENIA – Smoke on the Water: The Metropolis Sessions.

REVIEW: Deep Purple – NOW What?! (2013)

More Purple at mikeladano.com:

Live at Inglewood 1968Deep Purple (1969), Machine Head (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition + vinyl + In Concert ’72 vinyl), Perks and Tit (Live in San Diego 1974), Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition), Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition), Power House (1977), The Battle Rages On (1993), Shades 1968-1998, Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (12 CD), Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD), Rapture of the Deep (2 CD Special Edition), “All the Time in the World” (2013 CD single), Record Store Tales Part 32: Live In Japan, STEVE MORSE BAND – StressFest (1996), ROCK AID ARMENIA – Smoke on the Water: The Metropolis Sessions.

NOW WHAT_0005

NOW WHAT_0003DEEP PURPLE Now What?! (2013 edel)

Disclaimer:  I am so happy with this album, Deep Purple’s latest, that I put off and put off writing a review for it.  As a fan of both Deep Purple Mk VIII and Bob Ezrin, this album would either colossally astound or disappoint me.  I’m happy to say that NOW What?! is my favourite album since Purpendicular back in ’96.

At first I thought NOW What?! was going to be an uncomfortably mellow album.  How wrong I was.  Sure, “A Simple Song” starts powerfully soft (think Purpendicular‘s “Loosen My Strings”).  It then takes off into a modern Purple tangent, with groove, a chorus that kills and absolutely outstanding organ work by Don Airey.  If there was ever a man to pay tribute to the legacy of Jon Lord, it is Don Airey.  He does so with class, homage, and love.

I love “Weirdistan” both for the title and the song itself.  It is however “Out of Hand” that is the first mind-blower for me.  The strings and arrangements of Ezrin are on this song like a stamp, yet it is also blatantly no other band than Deep Purple.  Even though Purple have been backed by strings many times before, Ezrin’s approach sounds like classic Ezrin.  It’s hard to verbalize, but Ezrin uses the strings in a support role, yet often up front and in your face.

HELL TP PAYIf none of the previous songs sounded enough like old Deep Purple to you, “Hell to Pay” is sure to satisfy.  The edited version from the CD single has nothing on this.  The soloing is better than the song, quite frankly, and too much of it was edited out of the single version.  Musically “Hell to Pay” has that hard, slightly funky vibe that a lot of later Deep Purple possesses.  As far as the solo sections, you’re hearing things that go all the way back to 1968 and “Mandrake Root”.  It’s trippy.  The spirit of Jon lives on.

“Body Line” is pretty good, again it’s kind of funky in that Purple-y way.  Ian Paice, the only remaining member from the original 1968 Mk I version, is responsible for many of the funk vibes, aided and abetted by Morse and Airey.  Actually, it’s really hard to single out any one member as MVP on most of these songs.  Deep Purple Mk VIII have gelled so well as a band over the last decade, that everything is in sync.  Everybody bounces off the other players in a way that is reminiscent of the classic Deep Purple years.

“Above and Beyond” (to be released as a 7″ and CD single October 25) is one of two songs dedicated to Jon Lord.  This is probably the most progressive sounding of the new songs.  It’s certainly one of the most epic.  I think Jon would have loved it.  It’s worth noting at this point that Bob Ezrin, as per his modus operandi, has a writing credit on every song.  In the same way you can hear him tightening up the songwriting of artists like Kiss and Alice Cooper, you can hear his shine on “Above and Beyond”.

I’m sure it’s a coincidence since almost all the members are different, but “Blood From A Stone” begins similarly to “You Keep On Moving” from Come Taste the Band.  Then it gets slinky, before Morse rips some heavy riffs on the chorus.  Don Airey shines as well, classing up the place several notches more.  This transitions seamlessly into the second Lord tribute, the beautiful “Uncommon Man”.  Morse’s guitars are uplifting and unmistakable.  I just love listening to him play because there is truly nobody else in the world who sounds like Steve Morse.  (Just as there is nobody, Yngwie included, who sounds like Richie Blackmore.)  Back to “Uncommon Man”, it features a similar fanfare to “Above and Beyond”, linking them thematically.  It also has my favourite keyboard solo on the whole album.

“Après Vous” sounds like a Rapture of the Deep outtake, but a good outtake.  Glover has a great groove going on, and there is once again a long instrumental section.  When it’s a band like Deep Purple, these aren’t the sections you want to skip through.  These are the highlights of a song!

All the timeI reviewed “All the Time in the World” when the single was released.  Quoting myself, “I’m really fond of “All the Time in the World”.  It reminds me of the laid back Purple from Bananas.  The classy keys from Don Airey seal the deal for me, but how about that Steve Morse solo?  Fantastic!…It might not sound like the Deep Purple of 1970, but that was a long time ago now.  It does sound like a rock band staying classy well into their silver years.  I don’t hear any compromise nor contrivances here.”

NOW WHAT_0001Uncle Meat’s favourite song on the album was “Vincent Price”, and while the whole album is excellent, “Vincent Price” is also instant.  It’s really fun, and Ezrin brings his trademark sound effects back to the table.  Morse’s spooky guitar line seals the deal.  Gillan’s lyrics about vampires and zombies are amusing enough.  (This is the kind of lyric that never would have made it past the tyrannical Blackmore.)

There are a couple bonus tracks to be had.  “It’ll Be Me” is an unlikely cover, by country singer Jack Clement.  Deep Purple pull it off, thanks to Gillan’s lively vocal.  “First Sign of Madness” was a free download track, also later released on the “Vincent Price” CD single.  It’s a lively song, but different from the album tracks.  It reminds me of “Via Miama” from the Gillan/Glover album Accidentally on Purpose.  It took a while to grow on me, but I quite like it now just because it doesn’t sound too much like the rest of the album.  But these songs will all be on the forthcoming “tour edition”.

Deep Purple pulled off the damn near impossible and put out one of their best albums 45 years after initially forming.  Most bands would dream of being able to do this.  Hell, most bands don’t put out albums as good as NOW What?! during their primes.  If this is a career capper (and I pray Purple have another album in them) then I couldn’t imagine a better album to finish on.  The same goes for Ezrin, the guy who produced such classics as The Wall, Destroyer, and Billion Dollar Babies.  If Bob retired tomorrow, he could do so having done a freaking great Deep Purple record.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – “All the Time in the World” (2013 CD single)

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All the time

DEEP PURPLE – “All the Time in the World” (2013 Edel single)

I tried to order this single from the Deep Purple Appreciation Society.   I was order #31.  But then Edel only hooked them up with 10 copies!  I had to order this from Amazon instead, paying $23 plus shipping.  I’m not happy about that, but it’s Deep Purple and I am a completist with this band.

I’m really fond of “All the Time in the World”.  It reminds me of the laid back Purple from Bananas.  The classy keys from Don Airey seal the deal for me, but how about that Steve Morse solo?  Fantastic!  Thankfully, the sonic qualities of compact disc bring out all the richness of Bob Ezrin’s production, lacking in the crappy Youtube videos available.  It might not sound like the Deep Purple of 1970, but that was a long time ago now.  It does sound like a rock band staying classy well into their silver years.  I don’t hear any compromise nor contrivances here.   This is a both a radio remix and an edit, so expect the album version to differ.

“Hell to Pay” is a more traditional Deep Purple hard rocker, but with a shout-along chorus.  You don’t hear shout-alongs too often in Deep Purple, as strange as that may seem, so this is new territory in a sense!  The highlights of this song are the solos by Steve and Don.  I had to play it again to bask in its awesomeness.  There are echos of “Highway Star” at times.

You’ll notice Ezrin gets a writing credit on each track (as does each Purple member).  This is indicative of both the collaborative nature of Deep Purple, and Ezrin’s usual musical input.

There are two live tracks, but I unfortunately already have these!  They are “Perfect Strangers” and “Rapture of the Deep” from the London Hard Rock Cafe in 2005.  They were previously released (and previously reviewed) with the special edition of Rapture of the Deep.  This is disappointing, I was hoping for unreleased live versions.  Regardless, they’re great versions, particular “Rapture” which is perhaps better than the album version.

Now What?! is out tomorrow, April 26.

4/5 stars (for the music, not Amazon’s price)

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

DP FRONT

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.

DP FRONT BACK

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.