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

THE HOUSE OF BLUE LIGHT

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

2.80 | 268 ratings

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Raff
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars It is rather hard to believe that, a mere three years after the blockbusting reunion album "Perfect Strangers", Deep Purple would release a stinker of such proportions as "The House of Blue Light" (named after a line in the immortal "Speed King"). Unfortunately, it was not the first time the mighty five had subjected their loyal fans to such a burning disappointment... Something very similar had happened in 1973, when the band had released the very poor "Who Do We Think We Are" as a follow-up to the glorious "Machine Head". However, this album is so bad that it makes its less-than-illustrious predecessor sound almost half-decent - and this is no mean feat.

One of the many problems that afflict "The House of Blue Light" is related to having been released in the Eighties, therefore displaying the polished yet ultimately hollow sound of that era. The main victims are Jon Lord's rumbling, trademark Hammond sound (all too often replaced by the decade's favourite toys, synthesizers), as well as Blackmore's distinctive guitar tones, which sound eerily muffled in the mix - especially in comparison with the dazzling power of their Seventies recordings. Ian Paice's drumming has also been flattened, and sounds mechanical and soulless like a drum machine - gone are the glory days of "The Mule". The only bright note is Gillan's singing, as good as ever - with the years, he has become more of a singer and less of a screamer, and his lyrics writing skills have also immeasurably improved. However, the songs are all so samey and unmemorable that even one of the best vocalists in the history of rock can hardly rescue them.

Yes, the songs... That is the biggest cause for concern on "The House of Blue Light". When good, DP's songwriting can be stellar, but it can also plumb unnamed depths when lack of inspiration strikes. Even though the band had three years to produce this album, the songwriting gives off the impression of a rush job, or worse, of an extremely bad case of writer's block. On repeated listens, there are no songs that really stick in my mind, with the sole exception of the bluesy, earthy "Mitzi Dupree", which stands out because it is so different from the rest of the album's hard-rock-by-numbers. Some mention "The Spanish Archer" as THoBL's standout track, but to these ears it is just another piece of a shapeless musical mess.

The release of this album was just the beginning of a very dark period in the history of the band. Personnel changes and severe inspirational drought marred DP's output in the late Eighties and early Nineties, until something drastic happened - Ritchie Blackmore left the band, never to return. Paradoxically, it was probably the only thing that could have saved them - the injection of fresh blood, in the shape of guitarist extraordinaire Steve Morse. Blackmore's departure probably saved the band from a long, protracted, painful decline.

"The House of Blue Light" is one of the lowest points of DP's career, and as such deserves the lowest available rating. Needless to say, there is very little of interest to hardcore prog fans, but also to those who love high-quality hard rock. Yesterday I put on "Fireball" after listening to it... The difference could not have been greater. What a shame.

Raff | 1/5 |

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