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BAD ATTITUDE

Deep Purple

Proto-Prog


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patrickq
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Mercury ‎PRO 473-1 was a 12" vinyl (33⅓ RPM) promotional single published in the US in 1987. The LP version of "Bad Attitude" appears on both sides. (This version differs a bit from the commercial 7" 45 RPM single, Mercury ‎885 820-7: "Bad Attitude (edit)" b/w "Black & White")

Just as Yes had borrowed Andy Summers's arpeggiated guitar from "Every Breath You Take" (1983) for their own #1 hit "Owner of a Lonely Heart" (1984), Yes's fellow 70s UK rockers Deep Purple borrowed heavily from "Owner" for "Bad Attitude."* The bass and guitar parts in the verses are very similar to "Owner," although the vocal melody is different. Even more blatant is the second guitar solo (2:52-3:26), during which Ritchie Blackmore, playing a guitar with a harmonizer effect, shreds over a clean bassline and drums, without a rhythm guitar part - - Just as Trevor Rabin had on "Owner of a Lonely Heart."

The verses, choruses, and that second guitar solo comprise the lion's share of "Bad Attitude." They're hard-rocking, telling the tale of a guy who's been stepped on one to many times. He demands to be treated as a person, which hasn't been the case up until now. As he says, "things have got to change." This is, of course, the approximate theme of every other 1980s rock song. What makes "Bad Attitude" special are three instrumental sections. The tune begins with Jon Lord's ominous organ which goes through a couple of chords before resolving after around twenty seconds. Bridging this section into the song proper are a couple of syncopated drum/bass/guitar double hits. This brief, foreboding prelude fits the song well, even if it is an atypical way to start a late-1980s AOR song.

Then there's the first guitar solo (beginning at 2:30), which doubles as an instrumental bridge. Although the song doesn't change key or tempo here, the atmosphere shifts a bit. Whereas, based on the chorus, the listener anticipates that this section will start on a B-major chord, it turns out to be A-major. This retrogradation, along with a change in the drum pattern, creates the sense that the song has slowed down a bit, ushering in a relatively contemplative guitar solo. A reprise of the syncopated motif from the intro brings back the song proper.

At the four-minute mark, just as the last chorus has wrapped up, we finally have incontestable truth that this is an art-rock song. The outro shifts to 12/4 time and the guitar evaporates along with the vocals. In their place is a synthesized string section playing a nicely orchestrated, slightly dramatic rhythm. Drummer Ian Paice punctuates the end of each twelve-measure passage with a drum fill as the song fades out.

Overall, "Bad Attitude" is a solid track, very much in line with 1987-vintage AOR, but with some nice prog flourishes.

* in 1988, Bad Company slowed down and altered the main riff of "Owner" for "No Smoke Without a Fire;" Yes themselves had done the same thing the prior year with "Big Generator."

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Posted Saturday, June 8, 2019 | Review Permalink

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