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Deep Purple - Nobody's perfect  CD (album) cover

NOBODY'S PERFECT

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

2.76 | 59 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Seemingly not content with spoiling its reputation via mediocre studio efforts, Mk. 2.x decided to release a live album that would destroy the myth of this Purple lineup as an impeccable live band. It should be noted that my version is 11 tracks long, whereas there's a 14 track, 2-CD version now out on the market, so it's possible that those three tracks could change my mind about this album. However, I'm not counting on it.

Strangely enough, it is by far the 2.1 tracks that come across best on this album. I liked the studio version of "Perfect Strangers" a lot, but I'd take a good guess that this is the definitive version, as there's just enough of an increase in tempo (at least, I think so - maybe it's just the live vibe, who knows) to add a lot of energy and intensity to an already tense piece. "Hard Lovin' Woman" also works very well live, and I almost don't even mind the song morphing into "Under the Gun" halfway through (I can't believe that Ritchie and Co. had so little shame that they could play that "Pomp and Circumstance" snippet in front of people). Best of all, though, is "Knocking at Your Back Door," largely because it's introduced by Lord having fun on his keyboards in the sort of way Keith Emerson would back in the 70's (ie piano improvisations where he would reference all sorts of pieces from all sorts of styles). And hey, let's not minimize the song itself, which benefits a ton from the live vibe.

Unfortunately, these three recent tracks are chunked together in the middle of the album, surrounded on both sides by mediocre (and worse, sometimes MUCH MUCH WORSE) renditions of the old classics. If you, like me, didn't care for Ian's singing on the last two studio albums, you'll be horrified by how he single-handedly destroys the first two tracks on this album. "Highway Star" starts off fine instrumentally, and the verse singing is at first passable (Ian sounds older, but not in a horrid way), but when he tries to scream "I love it! I need it!" it no longer sounds like a masterful singer going into the upper register. Instead, it sounds like a man with no upper register squealing like a pig, hoping that nobody notices and calls him on it. Arguably, however, what happens to "Strange Kind of Woman" is even worse. Remember how he could do those perfect imitations of Ritchie's guitar lines in the mid-section? Well, to put it nicely, you don't get that here. Instead you get Ian yelping indiscriminately in response to Ritchie, only somewhat in tune with him, pretending that he's doing the imitations that he once could, but instead making a total fool of himself. Heck, I'm not even that glad to hear Ian singing blurbs from Jesus Christ Superstar - it's just more material that he once could sing well that he can't sing well anymore.

Ian is not the sole responsible party for making this album such a pain to listen to, however. If you don't believe, just check out the agonizing version of "Child in Time" that comes after the 2.1 chunk. Ian tries his best here, and some credit has to be given for that; the lower range sounds thinner than I'd like, but that's a given now, and while the upper-level screams don't get the perfect power they once had, the energy and effort put into trying to get to that level at least gives a slight boost to Ian's singing here (slight, mind you). No, what mostly hurts the piece is everybody else, particularly Ritchie; the cathartic mid-section is denigrated into Ritchie playing generic hair-metal "shredder" scales, without an ounce of the moody, passionate creativity that made this piece one of my favorite pieces ever made by a metal band. There is NO WAY I would regard "Child in Time" as highly as I do if this was what the soloing in the original consisted of - that was shredding with purpose, this is just shredding to shred. Besides, Ritchie doesn't even bother to shut up when the rest of the band does, like he's supposed to in that section! And the rush to the finish? LAME.

The last four live tracks aren't anywhere near as bad as this, but hardly very inspiring. "Lazy" is straight-forward, uninspired and short - enough said. The ending "Smoke on the Water" is at least better than it was when sung by Coverdale, but I'm bothered by the way the band sped it up, as if to get it over with; by doing so, it loses a lot of the pounding intensity that made it so attractive in the first place. On the other hand, I'm pretty happy to have another live version of "Black Night," a non-LP track from the early 70's (I eventually obtained versions from the band's prime, so this version isn't quite as a revelation for me anymore, but it's still nice), and "Woman from Tokyo" is as mindlessly fun as ever (and there's Buddy Holly quotes at the end!), so that's at least something.

As a strange bonus, the band ends this live album with a new re-recording of "Hush," and from a certain twisted perspective, it kinda rules. But one nice studio surprise isn't enough to totally undo the effect of so many mediocre live "interpretations" of classic material. Consider the grade an extremely generous reward for the band making me like the 2.1 material as much as I do here, and don't hurry out to look for it.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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