Thursday, July 5, 2012
After the famed Mark II lineup of Deep Purple came back together, all felt right again and they delivered an all-time classic in “Perfect Strangers.” Grand record sales and a successful tour ensued and they churned another album, but this time a bit uneven in “The House of Blue Light.” Throughout that time, vocalist Ian Gillan and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore decided they didn’t like each other again and now it was time for another incarnation of Deep Purple. Gillan was out and Blackmore turned to the guy he hired to bring his other band Rainbow commercial success, Joe Lynn Turner. Essentially, this was now a band mixed like a pack of Skittles. Bassist Roger Glover also played with Rainbow as Ian Paice and Jon Lord were the only members not to ride the spectrum.
In essence, this album is a mix of material that could be found on the last albums of Rainbow and also songs that still fight with the Deep Purple spirit. The opener “King of Dreams” has thumping keyboards and mystical guitars that suit Turner’s voice perfectly. In fact, Turner puts some of the strongest performances on this album.
Turner receives some unfair criticism at times about his voice and while he can croon with the best of them, he knows when to insert attitude and enhance the songs. “Fire in the Basement” has the blend of attitude and sharp singing that is also one of the stronger cuts on the album. “Truth Hurts” has Turner oozing emotion that is a combination of one of Purple’s best songs from the David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes years in “Mistreated” and Rainbow’s “Can’t Let You Go.” The team of Turner and the melancholic rhythm sparked by the bass and keyboard make for a great song.
Musically, Blackmore shows bite with his guitar work on the closer “Wicked Ways” with a driving rhythm and a nice touch of the violin sprinkled in to deliver a more striking gesture. “The Cut Runs Deep” did not connect with me the first couple times I listened to it, mostly because of the awful sounding voice shouting “the cut runs deep.” Otherwise, the guitar effects and the drumming make it a winner. “Fortuneteller” has a brooding, mysterious atmosphere about a lady who wields the cards of the future. The bombast of the chorus and the string of keyboard notes further add to the aura and is a very memorable song.
It’s unfortunate that all the songs could not be as good as “Breakfast in Bed” tries to sound like “Lazy” in the beginning with the keyboard, but quickly devolves into an inoffensive, AOR that is rather underwhelming. However, when “Love Conquers All” hits, I found myself in a true face-palm moment. Deep Purple doing a power ballad? Say it ain’t so. Deep Purple is much better than this and for them to try to hop on that train for more success is pathetic. Needless to say, the song is super cheesy and super sucks. The last bit of badness arrives in the form of the commercial, poppy “Too Much is not Enough.” It sounds like a Rainbow reject and I had enough after one listen.
“Slaves and Masters” is a solid Deep Purple album and Turner provides energy to a band that lost some spark with the last effort “The House of Blue Light.” I can’t see Gillan singing the material on the album, let alone the power ballad, but that’s a good aspect as Turner was not forced to sing something that may not have been comfortable for him. “Wicked Ways”, “Fortuneteller” and “Fire in the Basement” provide incentives for repeated listens and enjoy yet another version of Deep Purple.