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Deep Purple - The House Of Blue Light CD (album) cover

THE HOUSE OF BLUE LIGHT

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

2.82 | 259 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Let's not drag it out like a Cagney death scene"

The follow up to the glorious reunion album "Perfect strangers" was a far more patchy affair, which indicated that the rekindled inspiration waned as quickly as it appeared. "The house of blue light" is best described as a typical Deep Purple album. It certainly has plenty of the type of song a fan would expect, but it lacks the spark which distinguished the great ones such as "In Rock", "Fireball" and indeed "perfect strangers".

After a brief burst of organ by Jon Lord, we launch straight into "Bad attitude". The track would be fine as a mid-album song, but its position as lead off is misplaced, the track lacking both a distinguished intro and the dynamics of songs like "Highway star", "Knocking at your back door" and "Burn". The reason for the track's lofty position quickly becomes apparent though, as the following tracks offer a succession of increasingly ordinary, sometimes downright poor attempts at finding the old magic.

The prosaic nature of track after track makes it all to easy to over emphasise the disappointing feeling of the album as a whole. It should be said though that these are not bad songs, they simply fail to rise to a level expected of the band. Many other groups would rightly be very proud of such an album, but Deep purple set their own standards over many years, and "House of blue light" simply fails to meet those standards.

To be fair, this album was released in 1987 at a time when many of our heroes were struggling to adapt to the musical atmosphere of the time. It would be unfair to expect Jon Lord not to exploit the diversity offered by the synthesiser, or the band not to write in the relatively simple style of the period. On tracks such as "Mad dog" though, they simply take this too far and end up with A Bruce Springsteen like piece of AOR. Likewise, "Black and white" strays into Aerosmith territory. Even the longest track, "Strangeways" has nothing remotely prog about it, being a straightforward song extended through repetitive instrumentation.

Lyrically, the band are still in fine fettle, but songs such as "The Spanish archer" betray the unsettled nature of the internal relationships: "Is there someone waiting in the wings to take my place, let's not drag it out like a Cagney death scene.. Do you remember when the sky was blue we used to talk for miles, and now we drive along in this thundering silence."

The only track to vary from the relentless pace is " Mitzi Dupree", a blues rock number which is not really that special, but makes for a pleasant change.

While it is easy to simply dismiss this as a poor Deep Purple album, a much better description would "disappointing". It is not a bad album, but it fails to satisfy expectations. "The house of blue light" is certainly still worthy of investigation by fans of Deep Purple though.

Footnote, most of the tracks here were edited for the vinyl release. Most were only slight edits, but "Strangeways" loses a full 2 minutes. Some CD compilations use these edited versions of the songs.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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