Rapture of the Deep

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 – “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)

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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!

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“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.