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Jon Lord - Pictured Within CD (album) cover


Jon Lord


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3.93 | 34 ratings

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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars At one with the Lord

Having released four solo albums between 1971 and 1982, Jon Lord waited a further 17 years before venturing back into his solo career. During the intervening period the classic Deep Purple reformed twice and then fell apart completely; Lord however kept the faith throughout. After the general disappointment with his 1982 release "before I forget", hopes were high that he would rediscover the inspiration which had been apparent on his three albums from the 1970s.

While the 12 tracks here tend to be listed as individual pieces, Lord's official website describes how they are actually grouped into four suites. These are "The valley" (tracks 1 2 and 3), "Blue sky dreams" (tracks 4,5 and 6) "Of heroes and heroines" (tracks 7,8 an 9) and "Beneath a higher heaven" (tracks 10, 11 and 12).

Lord stops short of restoring a full orchestra to the line up, but does call in an army of classical and rock musicians (including Thijs Van Leer of Focus) plus the ever present Pete York on percussion and female vocalist Sam Brown (Joe Brown's daughter). Brown is given a couple of lyric writing credits too, the only person other than Lord to receive such a credit. Jon had been working on the music for some time before recording commenced, the loss of his mother in 1995 having a clear influence on the mood of the album. Significantly, he signed with the Virgin Classics label for its release.

The virtually inaudible opening bars of "Sunrise" imperceptibly increase in volume until a cello picks out a theme and Jon plays his introductory notes on piano. And so we are quickly reassured that this is to be an album of considered beauty with strong symphonic leanings. Those who are familiar with Deep Purple's revisiting of their "Concerto" (captured on the "Live at the Royal Albert hall" album) will recognise the piece and the following title track, which also opened that gig. As at that performance, Miller Anderson delivers an impassioned vocal to this beautiful song. "From the windmill" is a slightly looser instrumental which features classical guitar. The track remains downbeat, but has a more contemporary feel overall.

"Circle of stones", which opens the second section "Blue sky dreams", is a short reflective composition for strings, which merges into "Menorca blue". Here the strings remain but become the accompaniment to the lead piano and flute (played by the aforementioned Van Leer). "Evening song" finds Sam Brown providing lead vocal for the first time, her pained vocals and the crying violin accompaniment now really testing the emotions.

The title "Music for Miriam" is Jon's direct dedication to his late mother, the piece introducing the "Of heroes and heroines" tracks. Solo violin forms the main part of this emotionally charged piece. "Arc-En-Ciel", while still melancholy, offers a welcome change of lead instrument to Cor Anglais, once again joined by piano. "Wait a while" features further vocals from Sam Brown, the song having a familiar, almost traditional feel to it. The familiarity may simply be that it also featured on the "Royal Albert Hall" album also sung there by Sam Brown.

The longest track on the album, "Crystal spa", runs to well over 14 minutes. It opens as a sort of requiem with choral vocals and orchestration, the strings holding the notes poignantly as Lord adds colour on piano. There is a resemblance here to Tangerine Dream's later trilogy of interpretations of Dante's "Divine comedy". "Mountain sunset" takes us full circle from the opening "Sunrise", painting a picture of the last light of day. The melody reminds me of Scottish airs and long evenings in the remote Highlands. We close with "Different sky", a final glimpse of (Jon) Lord's emotional landscape before we must return to our own reality.

It is probably fair to say that you need to be in the right mood to listen to and appreciate this album. "Pictured within" is not for those wanting to rock out or to sing along. It is an album for relaxation, for reflection, and as Jon himself was doing, for remembering those who are no longer with us. While the music remains impassioned but gentle throughout, this is not a morbid affair. It is quite feasible to enjoy the music while indulging in personal thoughts and memories.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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