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Various Artists (Tributes) - Black Night, Deep Purple Tribute According To New York CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Tributes)


Various Genres

3.13 | 5 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "I'm gonna do this Deep purple thing". . . "Who the hell is Deep Purple?". . ."Check this out!"

TM Stevens is a black rap and metal/funk singer and bassist from New York. He has released a number of solo albums plus more with his band Shocka Zooloo. Recently, he has worked and toured with artists such as Carl Palmer and Steve Vai. In 1995, he initiated this project to pay tribute to Deep Purple by interpreting their songs in a "New York" way. The sleeve notes say that the objective was to pay homage to this "very special band" by maintaining the integrity of the original songs while adding a Big Apple feel and funk to it.

To enhance the appeal of the project as far as Deep Purple fans were concerned, artists such as Joe Lynne Turner, Al Pitrelli and Vinnie Moore were brought in, in addition to members of the band Living Color.

This is more of a band effort than a collection of covers by a variety of artists with Stevens playing bass throughout. The rest of the artists come and go, but most appear on several tracks. The selection of songs covered is a sort of Deep Purple greatest hits, predictably including the likes of "Black night", "Smoke on the water", "Strange kind of woman" and "Fireball". While the songs are entirely recognisable, they are noticeably different to the originals, with an almost exclusive emphasis on lead guitar instrumentally. Indeed, a number of the tracks do not feature keyboards at all.

The opening "Black night" sees the song slowed down and funked up, with some fine extended lead guitar solos by Pitrelli and Moore. This sets the pattern for many of the tracks which often have a Lenny Kravitz feel. "Smoke on the water" sounds very much like you might expect to hear if it had been recorded for the first time by the mark 3 line up of the band.

It is only when we get to track 5, "Child in time", that the organ takes centre stage, albeit briefly. After a faithful rendition of the first verse, the track suddenly adopts a reggae beat. Tony Harnell does a good job at emulating Ian Gillan's screamed orgasm while Richie Kotzen adds a fine, if radically different lead guitar solo. Those who feel the song is sacrosanct will be horrified by this version, but the broad minded should actually find it quite pleasing.

Lead vocal duties are shared between the aforementioned Turner and Hornell plus Cory Glover and Richie Kotzen, with each stepping up for two or three tracks. Stevens shares lead vocal on "Space truckin'" with Harnell, the track once again sounding rather like a mark 3 cover. Similarly, the guitar duties rotate fairly evenly, although Yngwie Malmsteen's masks his identity through the use of the name Lars Y. Loudamp on "Burn". His signature playing on the track though is unmistakable. On the downside, this is one of the tracks which completely lacks keyboards, Jon Lord's fine contribution being picked up by lead guitar.

The final track "Deep Purple NY" is the only original on the album, being credited to TM Stevens. It is nothing like the rest of the songs being a straightforward rap piece, but it is thankfully kept brief.

One of the interesting aspects of this tribute is the regular similarities with the style of Deep Purple mark III, the Coverdale/Hughes era. The album inadvertently demonstrates how, much to Ritchie Blackmore's annoyance, that version of the band drifted off in a funky direction.

It is difficult to say what the objective of this album actually was. The versions here are good, but the originals will always be preferred by fans of the band. On the other hand, the sound is probably too alien for those who appreciate the original works of Stevens. It is certainly to his credit that the versions here show imagination and a degree of adventure in the interpretations. By and large, the renditions offer credible alternatives, but this is probably not an album anyone will want to listen to on a regular basis. It is worth hearing for its novelty value though.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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