Deep Purple is one of those rare few bands that have been chugging along, more or less steadily, for the better part of 40 years. Except for a hiatus between 1976 and 1984, the band that was originally known as Roundabout when it was formed in 1967 has continued to crank out albums (36 in all, not counting “Greatest Hits” compilations) and tour in workmanlike fashion.
Deep Purple's Revolving Door
Not unexpectedly for a group that has been around this long, Deep Purple has seen a lot of personnel turnover. Since its inception, the band has had:
- Four lead vocalists: Rod Evans, Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Joe Lynn Turner
- Four lead guitarists: Ritchie Blackmore, Tommy Bolin, Joe Satriani, Steve Morse
- Three bass players: Nick Simper, Roger Glover, Glenn Hughes
- Two keyboardists: Jon Lord, Don Airey
- One drummer: Ian Paice, the only original member still with the band
The current lineup – the eighth in the band’s history, aka Mark VIII – consisting of Gillan, Morse, Airey, Glover and Pace has remained constant since 2002. Paice has been with the band since the beginning. Gillan and Glover have bounced in and out of the group off and on since 1969. Morse joined in 1994 and Airey in 2002.
Classic Rock Curse
In spite of the fact that they regularly record and perform new material, the band is dogged by the same curse that attaches to virtually every classic rock band that is still in existence. The fans who pack their live performances are primarily there to hear the “old” songs for which they are best known and, with varying degrees of tolerance, wait through the new songs to hear the familiar ones. Accordingly, their concert ticket sales are usually far greater than their new album sales. The band makes light of this situation with the song "MTV" from their newest album, Rapture of the Deep.
Deep Purple faces another obstacle common to bands that have had a lot of personnel turnover. Fans argue over which roster produced the best music, and inevitably each new album invites comparisons to the work of past band lineups, before – or instead of – being judged on its own merits.
Highs and Lows
The title track reminds us of the band’s Progressive roots. The lyrics are somewhat mysterious, but Morse’s guitar work is superb.
"Before Time Began" is another prog rock jewel.
"Money Talks" is another exercise in the band poking fun at itself, this time the excesses of fame and fortune.
"Wrong Man" showcases the best of each member of the group.
I get a little queasy when 60-ish guys sing suggestively about young girls, as in "Girls Like That."
A ballad -- "Clearly Quite Absurd" -- seems clearly quite out of place on this album.
It’s unfortunate that radio stations that continue to play the heck out of "Smoke On the Water" and "Highway Star" will ignore everything on Deep Purple’s new album. That’s as good an excuse as any to treat yourself to your own copy.