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Deep Purple: Purpendicular (reissue)

The year is 1996 and the time has come for the (for the second time in their history) Blackmore-less Deep Purple to unleash their first album with ex-Dixie Dregs and Kansas guitarist Steve Morse mastering the frets. Daunting huh? Well not judging by Purpendicular it wasn't. For as this HNE/Cherry Red reissue reminds us, while maybe not "classic" Purple, Purpendicular is undoubtedly a pretty excellent album and certainly better than the Blackmore featuring The Battle Rages On and derided, but actually pretty damn good, if more Rainbow than Purple, Joe Lynn Turner fronted Slaves And Masters, which preceded it.

The question when you have someone replacing a legendary ex-member, as happened here, is of course, do you let them shine, or bury them in the trademark sound of the band they join? Here, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Gillan definitely decide to do the former, Morse allowed the space to lead the songs through his own style and tone and adding a completely new side to an established dog otherwise thought beyond new tricks. "Loosen My Strings" takes on the ethos perfectly, Jon Lord using an unusually sprightly keyboard touch to set an uplifting scene that Morse raises further through an ease and confidence others would have been afraid to bring to this song, wonderful little flicks adding flair and colour as he does so. "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" continues the style, Morse looser than Blackmore would ever have dreamt of being in this band; the lengthy outcome a melodic burst of delight, while the scintillating introductory track "Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic" adds a darker, busier framework that chugs along with an intent missing from Purple since 1984's Perfect Strangers.

Interestingly the rest of the band don't seem daunted by the change in focus one jot, Glover's bass work at times roaming madly, at others the rock solid base required, Gillan's vocals easy and smooth, benefiting from not having to compete with the guitars in the same way as the band's recent albums had seen, Paice punctuating it all in his understated but impressive trademark style. Possibly most kudos goes however to the much missed keyboard man Jon Lord, with his willingness to take a back seat during a number of the tracks included being to his and the band's credit, although his unmistakable contributions still strike true.

As with most Purple albums (even the classics) there are a couple of fillers in evidence, the throwaway Hammond-guitar trade off of "Cisco" a fun but unessential workout, while the reverting to type "Cascades: I'm Not Your Lover", while still allowing Morse room to add his own feel, does smack of let's add a couple of songs that "sound like us" syndrome. However when you weigh that against the wonderful sounds of "The Aviator", which begins like Fish meets Steve Earle before growing into an unforgettable stroll through beauty and emotion, or the jaunty fret flurry of "A Touch Away" and a few less unexpected moments can be forgiven with ease.

As ever from Cherry Red, resident liner note man Malcolm Dome does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of where Purple were "at" as they recorded this album, Gillan, Glover and Morse adding their thoughts, while the remastering from Andy Pearce is excellent. The other thing Cherry Red almost always ensure is a few bonus cuts, although with only the welcome addition of the fine Japanese bonus track "Don't Hold Your Breath" and the single edit of "Sometimes I Feel..." the value added isn't quite up to the label's usual standards, although they can only work with what exists of course.

Is Purpendicular a classic Deep Purple album? Well the honest answer to that is probably no, for that honour is only really reserved for Machine Head, In Rock, Fireball, Burn and possibly Perfect Strangers. However what it is, is the sound of a band forging ahead against the odds and doing so remarkably well and this reissue is a welcome opportunity to reappraise its merits.

Track Listing
1. Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic
2. Loosen My Strings
3. Soon Forgotten
4. Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
5. Cascades: I'm Not Your Lover
6. The Aviator
7. Rosa's Cantina
8. A Castle Full Of Rascals
9. A Touch Away
10. Hey Cisco
11. Somebody Stole My Guitar
12. The Purpendicular Waltz
13. Don't Hold Your Breath (Japan bonus track)
14. Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming (Single edit)

Added: June 29th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Purpendicular at Cherry Red
Hits: 2278
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Deep Purple: Purpendicular (reissue)
Posted by Buttocks on 2020-06-24 14:46:12
My Score:

Best album of the new lineup.😁

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