Reviews of Bananas
By Catrin Wiegand
My favorite song is track six, Walk On - a blues ballad. Striking in my ears are especially track nine, Never a Word (a very soft one, somehow reminding me of some kind of 60s song), and track 12, Contact Lost (wow, Steve can play the guitar in a totally different way, too!). Together with the female voice on track three, this leads me to the fantastic grass-root mathematic discovery that pretty exactly every third song stuck in my ear - and these are all those non-rockers...
Apart from this I got the same feeling I had after first hearing Abandon: I guess I need to listen to it several times more to get used to it - but I didn't find anything really hateworthy on it. Well, Gillan's vocals are far to monotonous most of the time - but considering his age...
Song by song (after a couple of more run throughs):
1) House of Pain - pretty much the first thing I realize from that song is that Gillan's scream (five seconds in) sounded better 30 years ago... Apart from this House of Pain stands out with its pseudo-Lord-like organ - and overall it is the song that is most similar to Abandon. Probably this is the reason why it's the first song...
2) Sun Goes Down - After a quite spherical beginning a rather dark song (well, yeah: sundown). The atmosphere is a little bit like typically Black Sabbath with a Gillan that sings like he did mainly on his solo records... Interesting, yes - but does this make it a good DP song?
3) So now comes the first single... Haunted has a pretty short intro (in contrast to the long one Steve did on tour) and can't be called a bad song - but there is a lot in the studio version that I don't like. In general I don't like it if ballads have a drum track that is too far in the foreground (like it sadly is here). Furthermore I absolutely don't think Gillan's strained, squeezed out singing adds positively to the song. He has that beautiful low voice, too, why doesn't he employ it here? The string arrangement in the background isn't really necessary, but it doesn't disturb me either. If the ladies in the background had only done some ooohs - well, OK then. But the repeating of some passages of the text almost like a duet partner I judge as absolutely unnecessary! This doesn't mean that I don't like Gillan duetting - even if there's only one example from the last 32 years that comes to my mind (Loving on Borrowed Time from Naked Thunder), but that one I really liked... And the songs he did with Sheila Carter (in Episode Six, live) and Yvonne Elliman (Jesus Christ Superstar, studio) are in a league of their own...
4) It follows, as might be imagined by the title Razzle Dazzle, a typically Gillan-nonsense lyric, put into a very groovy song. Don's solo is on synths-piano: groovy, too.
5) Silver Tongue: Again a rather dark song, this time wrapped in several sound effects on organ and guitars that make it sound pretty weird some times. With a different lyric and vocal line this could easily be the soundtrack of one of those ominous science fiction movies that are so en vogue at the moment... Maybe someone should ask Pete Steele?
6) And now my favorite song: Walk On: with about one minute each it has a fairly long intro and outro. Maybe this increases my chances that there will we an edited version as a single? A wonderful, bluesy ballad with excessive rhyming - but in contrast to a lot of his colleges Gillan does this very well!
7) Picture of Innocence - see commentary to Razzle Dazzle. But here we don't have a solo on piano but a very typically Steve in DP solo - a touch too typical for my taste...
8) I've Got Your Number is one of the most complex songs - live it didn't appear that varied to me. Here I clearly favour the studio version. This is another potential single - but then I was always completely wrong about singles during the Steve-era (the past seven years)... Anyway, it is one of the best songs of the album - and typically rocking DP.
9) A very grandiose beginning seems to end up in a grandiose song, but in fact Never a Word is a pretty simple song. With its 2.30 minutes it holds the record for the lengthiest intro - but contrary to my next guess the title is no other term for instrumental. The lyrics come through in the last minute of the song. As mentioned before this is another highlight of the album.
10) Bananas - As a contrast this is another genuine rock song with extensive use of the harmonica. The lyrics starts with my favourite line of the album, "I got nothing to say today - I use my words of yesterday." At the end there is the most lengthy Duo (organ and guitar) of the album. All in all the song (sadly?) is not as bananas as its title might make you think...
11) Doing it Tonight - The basic rhythm somehow reminds me a little of Mark I, the text is once again rhyming hours with Mr. Gillan - and actually I can't see much point to this even after listening to it for the umpteenth time...
12) Contact Lost - The song that got the biggest attention in interviews so far is the final one. To recap the story: Aboard of the space shuttle Columbia that crashed earlier this year there was an astronaut who was a Deep Purple fan and took some songs with her on her voyage through space. Steve got the idea for Contact Lost the moment the news about the explosion reached him. The song is a very soft guitar-instrumental that shows a completely different side of Steve's playing. A little bit in the direction of a mixture of David Gilmour and Gary Moore. On the one hand a minute-and-a-half might be too short for this song - on the other hand the feeling might have been destroyed if it was longer... In any case a very fine ending for the album.
Final conclusion: After the first listening I might have given this record about 4 out of 10 bananas - now I am willing to give it about 7 out of 10 bananas - and there aren't that many records these days that would get more.