Putting the ‘Deep’ back into Purple; when Iggy met Bowie

By Tom Von Malder | Sep 04, 2020
Photo by: earMusic The cover of the 21st Deep Purple album.

Owls Head — Deep Purple: Whoosh! (earMUSIC/Edel, CD + DVD). The line “Putting the ‘Deep’ back into Purple” is the clever tag used on the sticker for Deep Purple’s 21st album and third with producer Bob Ezrin (Kiss, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed). The album is among the best of their career, a fun-filled blast of energy that is much needed in this sagging year. The limited edition comes with a live 2017 concert DVD, with a 68-minute conversation about the new album between Ezrin and bassist Roger Glover.

Drummer Ian Paice is the only foudning member from the 1978 version of the band, but bassist Glover and vocalist Ian Gillan joined the second, most successful lineup from 1969 to 1973, releasing the albums “Deep Purple in Rock,” “Fireball,” “Machine Head,” “Who Do We Think We Are” and the live “Made in Japan,” with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and keyboardist Jon Lord. Gillan and Glover left the band in 1973 and the band ultimately disbanded in 1976, as Blackmore had gone on to form Rainbow. Glover played with Rainbow from 1979 until 1984, when Deep Purple reformed. Also in Rainbow from 1979 to 1981 was keyboardist Don Airey, who subsequently joined Deep Purple in 2002, when Lord retired. (Lord passed in 2012.) Gillan and the rest of the band’s second, classic lineup reformed in 1984, but Gillan left in 1989, only to return for a third time in 1992. Meanwhile, Blackmore left again in 1993, to be replaced by guitarist Steve Morse (Kansas). The lineup has been stable since then, with Airey replacing the retiring Lord in 2002.

The first single from the new album is “Throw My Bones,” a bouncy rocker that is an invitation to step backwards and see the bigger picture, hopefully preserving the planet in the process. As always, the album features lots of organ and keyboards, especially during “The Power of the Moon” and the instrumental “Remission Possible.” Another instrumental, “And the Address,” has been likened to Cream, while “Man Alive” has two Moody Blues-like talk portions. “We’re All the Same in the Dark” has the typical Deep Purple sound, but overall, this album explores more musically.

“Drop the Weapon” features a lot of Morse’s guitar. Another highlight, “Nothing at All,” is a chugging rock ballad that is like a therapy session, with lightly tripping and lengthy organ passages. Also good is the strutter, “No Need to Shout,” with the band’s classic organ sound and the message: “No need to shout/Just shut your mouth and go away.” The stompin’ “What the What” is a boogie number, with a nice instrumental section. There is more Halloween/churchy organ to open “Step by Step,” while “The Long Way Around” has rapid guitar but a slower vocal. At times, Gillan’s vocals are engagingly hammy, such as on “What the What.”

In a press release, Gillan states, “Whoosh is an onomatopoeic word that, when viewed through one end of a radio-telescope, describes the transient nature of humanity on Earth; and, through the other end from a closer perspective, illustrates the career of Deep Purple.”

The concert DVD (92 min.) is a terrific show from Hellfest 2017, recorded June 16 at Clisson, France. The show covers 15 numbers, plus a brief snatch of Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” that is used to lead into the encore of “Hush,” the band’s 1968 hit cover of a Joe South song, originally recorded by Billy Joe Royal. The encore and concert end with “Black Night.”

During the first three songs, Gillan’s vocals seem too deep in the mix and a bit hard to hear. That problem does get resolved. Guitarist Morse is finally let loose a bit on “Bloodsucker” and “Some Kind of Woman,” the later featuring a late talk portion by Gillan. Morse’s solo opens “Uncommon Man,” while Airey’s spacey synth opens “The Surprising.” Gillan adds harmonica to “Lazy,” another of the classic Deep Purple-sounding numbers. Airey performs an entertaining keyboard solo that throws in a bit of “Alouette” for the crowd to sing along to.

The sounds of helicopters and ray guns open “Perfect Strangers,” while other classics played include “Space Truckin’” and “Smoke on the Water,” with its famous beat, a Morse solo and the crowd getting to sing by itself. About the only classics missing are “Highway Star” and “Woman from Tokyo.”

The conversation between Ezrin – who dominates the talking – and Glover took place November 2019 in London and is very informative. Throughout, Ezrin plays bits from songs on the album and discusses the sounds. They note that the band played all together in the studio while recording the album. The limited-edition CD+DVD combo comes in a hardcover booklet with lyrics and the discs housed in sleeves that recall the 78 rpm sets that Broadway shows and operas used to come in. The plus in the grade is due to the DVD. Grade: A+

Nick Perri & The Underground Thieves: Sun Via (Underground Thieves CD). Every so often an artist seems to come from nowhere and release a wonderful album. This is one of those times, and the artist is Nick Perri, who sings, plays electric guitar, writes or co-writes all but one of the 10 songs, and records and produces the album.

Who is Nick Perri? Perri is a founding member of the blues-based rock group Silvertide, as well as Mount Holly, SINAI and now the Philadelphia-based The Underground Thieves. He has played with Shinedown, Perry Farrell and Matt Sorum, among others. He has launched a custom guitar line, called Perri Ink. In 2016, he produced a Transformers compilation album for Hasbro and Sony. Perri has placed music in movies, TV show, and commercials, including the National Hockey League, The WB Network and Theraflu, among others. He also appeared in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Lady in the Water” film, performing two songs.

The Underground Thieves are lead singer/guitarist Perri, singer/songwriters Anthony and Michael Montesano, bassist Brian Weaver, keyboardist Justin DiFebbo and drummer Zil Fessler. The Montesanos wrote “You,” and co-wrote “I Want You,” “Excess” and “White Noise,” all of which are notable for their harmony vocals, which reflect Perri’s influence of 1960s and 1970s rock.

The first single is the bouncy rock-funk number “Feeling Good,” which features fuzz guitar, a big drum beat and a Hammond B-3 organ. The song has a hook-filled chorus and features a minute-long guitar solo by Perri, who states in a press release that he “wanted to sing about being grateful for what you have and not relying on material goods for happiness. In light of this current year, however, I believe the song can take on further meaning and purpose. At the end of the day, I hope ‘Feeling Good’ can inspire and uplift listeners. I think spreading positivity, especially during a time like this, is important.”

“I Want You” is very melodic, infectious and has a sweet guitar. Things slow down for “Fall,” which has a bit of a Pink Floyd feel, especially with the reverb-heavy guitars and overall ethereal sound. “Excess” has more bounce and is upbeat, with a driving rhythm and organ. “You” brings more bright vocal harmonies, which are almost Beatlesque and have slight distortion for a psychedelic touch. “Everybody Wants One” opens with the organ, then the drums kick in and the funk-filled number had me thinking of Billy Squier’s “The Stroke” (1981). The song also features a guitar solo. It ranks as the album’s best, along with “Feeling Good,” “I Want You” and “You.”

“5.0.1,” which has a heavy guitar solo, was recorded live Dec. 23, 2018 at the Ardmore Music Hall in Philadelphia’s suburbs. The closing “White Noise” features lots of guitar and a very nice sax by Julie Sussman. John Bach plays drums on both numbers. Grade: A

Dianne Davidson: Perigon: Full Circle (Perigon Music CD). This is singer-songwriter Davidson’s sixth album, but her first in more than three decades. The album consists of 10 original songs and covers of Gretchen Peters’ “Over Africa” and Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love.” Additionally, the album contains her first recording of her own “Sounds of the City,” recorded by Tracy Nelson in 1978 on her “Homemade Songs” album. In a press release, Davidson states she wrote the song when she was on the road with the Moody Blues “and started losing track of days and places.”

Born in West Tennessee and having formed her first band at age 11, Davidson has toured as a member of Linda Ronstadt’s band and has provided backing vocals for B.B. King, Jimmy Buffet, Tammy Wynette, Barry Manilow and Leon Russell.

Davidson is featured in the new documentary, “Invisible,” from Outhaus Films. Says Davidson in the press release, “In the moments when I was alone and sad and lost, this album was brought forth from my soul. In all the years I was away, this dream never left me. From its first baby steps, it had its own soul. What started as two songs for inclusion in the documentary, ‘Invisible,’ became a being of its own. A labor of love, created by the joining of loving and incredibly insightful musicians and engineers.”

Guitarist Larry Chaney co-produced the album with Davidson. She first worked with Chaney back in 1977.

Davidson’s wonderful voice is featured throughout. The opening “Just Out of Reach” has nice use of horns and, towards the end, it is just her voice with minimal musical backing. The blues number, “Subtle Touch,” features guests Ruthie Foster on vocals and Mac Gayden on slide guitar. For the cover of “Over Africa,” an album highlight, along with her own version of “Sounds of the City,” there is a nice vocal choir. The album’s other strong track is “They All Leave,” about faithless lovers. The feisty “Solitary” is about a broken relationship.

A string quartet contributes to a very different reading of Dylan’s “To Make You Fell My Love.” A guitar picks the melody up midway through the track. There is drama here too, both in “True Believer” and “The Island,” with the latter recalling the past. “Precious Boys,” which features a trumpet solo, was a song done for, but not used in the documentary. The closing “Missing You Tonight” is confessional, about making a wrong decision when she was younger. Grade: B

Iggy Pop: The Bowie Years (UMC, 7 CDs + booklet and making-of book). To many, Iggy Pop and David Bowie may have seemed strange friends, but they formed a partnership that worked over the years. Bowie had helped Iggy and the Stooges record “Raw Power” in 1972. New Stooges guitarist James Williamson co-wrote all eight of the album’s tracks with Bowie. Bowie also remixed the album, after Iggy’s botched first attempt. Thus, Iggy and Bowie shared producer credits.

Iggy then became part of Bowie’s “Station to Station” touring party, with their bond strengthening. Bowie than decided to help Iggy record his next album, which became the brilliant “The Idiot” (1977; grade: A), recorded in a residential studio outside of Paris, but with production completed in Munich and Berlin. Thus, the recording of “The Idiot” and 1978’s follow-up, “Lust For Life,” along with Bowie’s “Low” and “Heroes,” became known as Bowie’s “Berlin period.”

This box set includes both Iggy Pop studio albums, as well as the 1977 live album, “T.V. Eye Live 1977,” with Bowie playing keyboards, plus a 10-track disc of edits and outtakes, and three live shows from 1977, all with Bowie on keyboards, Tony Sales on bass and Hunt Sales on drums. Those three, along with guitarist Reeves Gabrels, would form Bowie’s future group, Tin Machine, from 1988 to 1992.

Bowie’s influence is everywhere on “The Idiot, but especially the dramatic “Sister Midnight’ (to which guitarist Carlos Alomar contributed writing) and the backing vocals on “Funtime.” Soon to become an Iggy staple, the ballad “China Girl” has a big instrumental ending. “Dum Dum Boys,” about the Stooges, is sort of the opposite of “All the Young Dudes,” which Bowie wrote for Mott the Hoople. There is a jazzy intro to “Tiny Girls.” The other highlight, for me, is “Nightclubbing,” with its wonderful beat and distorted guitar in the middle and at the end. (I also enjoy Grace Jones’ cover of the song.) Much of the album is hard, bordering on industrial music as a big part of the mixing and production on “The Idiot” was Bowie’s disguising the drumming by making it sound mechanized and inhuman.

For “Lust For Life” (1978; grade: B+), Bowie co-wrote seven of the nine tracks and plays keyboards throughout. Iggy wrote “Sixteen” by himself. Best are the title track, the bouncing “The Passenger” and the big production of “Tonight,” which turns sweeter after the introductory vocal and is kind of like the Velvet Underground. “Neighborhood Threat” has lots of backing vocals and industrial guitar. “Success” is rowdy and partyish, while “Turn Blue” is a lengthy narrative.

The live album, “T.V. Eye 1977 Live” (1978, grade: B), was cobbled together to complete Iggy’s RCA contract obligations. Three tracks were recorded at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, four at the Uptown Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, and one at the Aragon in Chicago. Best are the title track, first recorded in 1970, and a heavy “Funtime,” plus 1969’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” The crushing bass and drums are brutal throughout, but especially on “I Gotta Right.” The version of “Nightclubbing” here is not as good as the studio version.

The disc of edits and outtakes includes three single edits and an edit of “Lust For Life,” as well as four alternate mixes and the live single of “I Got a Right.” There also is a 1977 radio interview with Iggy.

The three 1977 live albums were recorded July 3 at London’s Rainbow Theatre, at Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom and at Chicago’s Mantra Studios. The band is the same throughout and as it was on “T.V. Eye Live 1977.” The first two shows have the same set list, except the London show adds “Tonight” and “Some Weird Sin” before the closing “China Girl.” The Chicago show deletes “1969.” Best are “Funtime,” “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “China Girl,” but the sound often is a bit raw. There are three songs each from “The Stooges” (1969), “Fun House” (1970) and “Raw Power” (1973). At one point, Iggy says, “Tonight” is about his dead girlfriend.

The 40-page, illustrated hardcover book gives a history of the recording sessions by Michael Hann, as well as interviews with Killing joke producer Youth, Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode. The whole package comes in a hard, cardboard box, about DVD height. Grade: A

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.