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Deep Purple - Now What?! CD (album) cover

NOW WHAT?!

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

3.94 | 202 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Lordy!

Ah Deep Purple, the lead guitar magic of Ritchie, the majestic keyboards of Jon, the screams of Ian G.... that takes me back. Wait a minute, you say the band is still going, you say this is a new album? Surely not?! Alas, Ritchie Blackmore has long since gone back to the future with Blackmore's Night (new album coming soon) and John Lord is now entertaining his namesake, but Ian Gillan is still belting them out, driven on by the powerhouse duo of Ian Paice and Roger Glover. Steve Morse has actually been lead guitarist with Deep Purple for longer than Ritchie was and Don Airey's Purple credentials are enhanced through his time with Rainbow.

So what can we expect from the 2013 Deep Purple. Well 12 brand new songs for starters, featuring such Purple-esque titles as "Weirdistan", "Blood from a stone" and "Hell to pay". Fans may be a bit concerned by the first minute or two of the opening "A simple song", beginning as it does with acoustic and soft electric guitar introducing a reflective vocal from Gillan. Have the band gone soft?? Of course not! Before you can say "Child in time" the song burst forth in its "Perfect strangers" type, riff driven magnificence. Airey pays tribute to the late Jon Lord with his swirling Hammond sound, the track immediately reassuring us that this is most definitely a Deep Purple album.

While there is a definite feel of the band's classic years to "Now what?!", and I include in that the fine reunion album "Perfect strangers", things do not stand still by any means. The melodies are strong, the musicianship excellent (of course) and the production top notch. On the other hand, here there is a modern sound, swirling synths, and quasi- orchestration. The pace (Paice!) is relentless, the band are clearly intent on making a record to be heard standing up. Indeed, it is only when we get to "Blood from a stone", a title you might expect to bring with it a belting rock number, that we find not a ballad but a slow blues. The following "Uncommon man" has us checking that this is really still Deep Purple. This seven minute guitar led piece builds from a "Wish you were here" like intro through a mid- song fanfare to a "Knocking at your back door" style latter section. "Apres vous" continues the surprises, offering a well rehearsed instrumental jam with a brief concluding vocal.

The bonus track "It'll be me", written by Jack Clement, was originally a single B side by Jerry Lee Lewis, then a hit single for Cliff Richard (never though I'd mention his name here) and was more recently covered by Tom Jones. The version here mirrors Jones' interpretation.

Everyone will have their own favourite from this album of course and for me there are a couple of songs that make up the numbers. There is though a general consistency and every so often, songs such as "Above and beyond" or the delicious "Vincent Price" will jump out as being yet another highlight. Deep Purple fans will not be disappointed with "Now what?!" (although the title is about as good as "Bananas"). This is a first rate DP album.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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