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Paice Ashton Lord: Malice in Wonderland-Special Edition

Following the demise of the Mk4 line-up of Deep Purple in 1976, original members Jon Lord & Ian Paice joined up with vocalist/keyboard player Tony Ashton to form Paice Ashton Lord (or PAL for short), along with guitarist Bernie Marsden and bassist Paul Martinez. Malice in Wonderland was their lone official studio release, a mix of hard rock, jazz, and funk, though they did record most of what was to be their sophomore album, never officially released but included here in this Special Edition from the folks at Purple Records.

PAL were pretty far from the Deep Purple sound, which probably is the reason that they didn't quite hit a home run with the fanbase that they expected, but in actuality Malice in Wonderland is a damn fine album in its own right. Tunes like "Ghost Story", "Remember the Good Times" and "Arabella" are catchy, crisp numbers with just enough hard rock edge but relying more on jazz, funk, and R&B, featuring the tight guitar work of Marsden (later to find fame with Whitesnake), the dueling keys of Lord & Ashton, Paice's funky drum work, the nimble bass grooves from Martinez, and the occasional horn section, which added an almost Chicago-ish flair. The band even sounds like Blood Sweat & Tears on the raucous "Silas & Jerome", while "Dance With Me Baby" is pure boogie along the lines of say Foghat. The closest they get to Deep Purple is on the funky hard rock of "On the Road Again, Again", which features the vocal playoff between Ashton and Marsden and some tasty clavinet from Lord. The title track is another fine funk rocker, with crisp guitar work from Marsden and some nice Hammond & piano textures from Lord & Ashton.

The bonus tracks are the unreleased second album, which starts off with the Marsden led "Steamoller Blues", a neat blues track featuring horns, Lord's sizzling Hammond, and Marsden's scorching lead guitar and solid vocals. In fact, you could say that throughout much of the material here on this CD, when Bernie does handle the vocal slot, he's a much stronger singer than Ashton, who at times sounds more like he's talking than actually singing. "Nasty Clavinet" is indeed a nasty funk rock jam that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Come Taste the Band, with Marsden & Lord dueling it out, and the two are at it again on the jazz-fusion of "Moonburn". "Goodbye Hello LA" is a surging hard rocker with chunky riffs and tasty horns, and "Untitled Two" is a fierce guitar & horns instrumental rocker that would have been a great vocal piece too. Though much of this material sounds unfinished, there's indeed some great stuff here.

It's too bad that Paice Ashton Lord never quite made much of a splash on a long term basis. After the one album and tour, which were both semi-successful, the wheels came undone and the band fell apart. Paice, Lord, and Marsden eventually went on to Whitesnake before the drummer and keyboard ace re-teamed up with Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, and Roger Glover in the early 80's reunion of the Mk2 line-up of Deep Purple. Ashton never quite achieved a higher level of success, and passed away in 2001, while Martinez has played as a sideman for Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel, George Harrison, and many others. Malice in Wonderland is a fine album and a must hear for lovers of 70's funky hard rock.

Track Listing
1/ Ghost Story,
2/ Remember The Good Times,
3/ Arabella,
4/ Silas & Jerome,
5/ Dance With Me Baby,
6/ On The Road Again, Again,
7/ Sneaky Private Lee,
8/ I'm Gonna Stop Drinking Again,
9/ Malice In Wonderland.
Bonus Tracks From Unreleased Second Album:
10/ Steamroller Blues,
11/ Nasty Clavinet,
12/ Black And White,
13/ Moonburn,
14/ Dance Coming,
15/ Goodbye Hello LA,
16/ Untitled Two,
17/ Ballad Of Mr Giver.

Added: January 8th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Purple Records
Hits: 4566
Language: english

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