Deep Purple are more than just a band, they are a legend. And as such we must judge them a little more stringently than the average band.
In 1988 Deep Purple were celebrating their 20th anniversary, but they were actually broken up for eight of those 20 years. And as it turns out, they celebrated their 20th by firing lead singer Ian Gillan! They also released this live album, which failed to excite the general public. Nobody’s Perfect is little more than a sub-Made in Japan.
It’s important to note, if you’re going to buy Nobody’s Perfect, there is no point in getting anything other than the 1999 2CD Mercury reissue. Originally, in order to get all the tracks, you had to buy the album on LP and cassette. The cassette had one exclusive track, “Dead or Alive”, a rarity from The House of Blue Light. The double LP had its own exclusive, “Bad Attitude”, another rarity from the same album. Meanwhile the single disc CD release was missing both these tracks and “Space Truckin'” as well. In other words, definitely do not buy the original single CD release which is the most incomplete of them all.
The big critique levelled at Nobody’s Perfect, then and now, is that the setlist was too safe and a repeat of stuff already released in live form. Ian Gillan himself was one who voiced that opinion. The cassette and LP bonus tracks go a long way to add value, since those songs were dropped after this tour. The only other place you can find live versions of “Bad Attitude” and “Dead or Alive” is the very expensive and out of print Bootleg Series 1984-2000. Otherwise, Nobody’s Perfect consists of all the same songs as Made in Japan minus “The Mule” and with a small handful of newer songs. The album is also sourced from many concerts around the world and completely lacks the flow that Made in Japan had (even though it was taken from three concerts itself).
The Deep Purple of 1987-1988 may have had the same members, but they still sounded very different from the Purple of 1972. Ian Gillan’s voice aged as all human voices do, and is the most notably different. Just as importantly though, Deep Purple had drastically cut down the soloing. That’s not a bad thing, but a lot of the shorter jams and solos sounded by rote in the 80s. One new highlight though is a bit of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in the middle of the “Strange Kind of Woman” solo section. Gillan was, of course, the original Jesus on the Jesus Christ Superstar album.
Whatever negatives may be applicable, when they rock they rock and when they roll they roll. “Dead Or Alive”, a new song, smokes the stage. “Child in Time” is probably the last decent version of the song released. “Perfect Strangers” and “Knocking at Your Back Door” were fresh and haven’t worn out their welcomes.
Finally there is a “Hush”, a re-recording of Deep Purple’s original 1968 single, captured live in a jam. This reimagining of the track has been dismissed as unnecessary but that is an unfair assessment. Ian Gillan and Roger Glover didn’t play on the original, so it’s actually cool to get a nice version with them. “Hush” in 1988 was a heavier track than “Hush” in 1968, but it’s still playful rock and roll.
As Purple approaches their 50th, Nobody’s Perfect has faded into the backdrop. As an official live album, it has its place in the discography. With so many superior official and semi-official live releases since, it is hardly an essential listen.