Reviews of Bananas
Bradford's Purple Banana
So Ian Gillan felt that this could be Deep Purple's "Sergeant Pepper's" album, and management has been hyping it as the big, mainstream comeback album for years. Is it all that? Not in my opinion, and this raised some other soul-stirring questions:
Does Don Airey fit in? Yes, to my relief, but do I miss Jon Lord? As Jon was always my personal favorite member, I almost hate to write this, but for me, Bananas validates Don Airey in the same was Purpendicular validated Steve Morse back when I thought I could never accept DP without Ritchie.
Does it sound like Deep Purple? Yes, in most places, No in others, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Is it better than Purpendicular? Not in my book. Better than Abandon? Too close to call yet.
Does Michael Bradford make a difference? Yes, I think he was good for them. He does squeeze some interesting music out of the band. The production is good, but not perfect to satisfy my audiophile penchant.
After a dozen spins, what are my impressions? This album hit me strangely, like I didn't know whether to like it or not, but then I realized that some songs I absolutely love, some I like, and some I find uninteresting. So I started thinking about each song and looking at it with similar criteria, so I reviewed each track in that way.
1. House of Pain - Overall Impression: 2.5 / 5 Bananas
- The weakest opener that I can remember. Fairly predictable, and Gillan's vocal
treatment (no matter how much we may like it as fans) does not fit for mainstream
radio, so it would never work as a single.
2. Sun Goes Down - Overall Impression: 3 / 5 Bananas
- Sounds like something from Abandon to me, sort of a natural progression.
I like it, but it is not outstanding.
3. Haunted - Overall Impression: 2 / 5 Bananas - A fairly
predictable ballad, and again as Gillan's nasal vocal treatment does not fit
in mainstream radio, it doesn't work as a single, but maybe that's why management
seems to think it's good idea. ;-) Probably my least favorite track.
4. Razzle Dazzle - Overall Impression: 3.5 / 5 Bananas
- Now were picking up. I think the stronger tracks begin here.
5. Silver Tongue - Overall Impression: 4.5 / 5 Bananas
- Nice funky synths, and a progressive feel ala House of Blue Light and Purpendicular.
Good vocals on this one too.
6. Walk On - Overall Impression: 4.5 / 5 Bananas - The
stronger of the 'slow' songs. Nice vocals, lyrics, and playing all around. Purple
plays the blues, in the tradition of Blind Man and Soldier of Fortune.
7. Picture of Innocence - Overall Impression: 4.5 / 5
Bananas - A track that reminds me of Rosa's Cantina and Evil Louie, but that
has it's own identity.. Music, lyrics, vocals, and chorus all kick.
8. I've Got Your Number - Overall Impression: 3 / 5 Bananas
- Lively in parts, but slightly predictable. Sounds like it could have been
designed as a radio track, but it probably wouldn't make it.
9. Never a Word - Overall Impression: 4.5 / 5 Bananas
- A truly beautify song that could have appeared on one of Steve's or Gillan's
solo albums. This is different in the tradition of The Aviator and A Touch Away.
Gillan's vocals are soul stirring.
10. Bananas - Overall Impression: 4 / 5 Bananas - A rocker
that has some great lyrics, harmonica, and fun music all over the place.
11. Doing it Tonight - Overall Impression: 5 / 5 Bananas
- My favorite track. I can't get it out of my head, so I know it must be so!
12. Contact Lost - Overall Impression: 5 / 5 Bananas
- stunning, but as my 3 year old daughter said, 'Daddy, this is a sad song'
as she listened and asked me to play it again. I explained why it was a sad
song, telling her of the brave astronauts that sacrificed their lives. She then
echoed my other sentiment on this track, by innocently asking me, "Daddy,
is this a short song?" I smiled and agreed with her, but it also seems
just right, ending too soon, just like the fateful shuttle mission.
Adding all bananas and averaging them with the twelve tracks, I calculate a total of 3.5 / 5 Bananas.
Favorite tracks: Silver Tongue, Walk On, Pictures of Innocence, Never a Word, Bananas, Doing It Tonight, and Contact Lost. That's 7 / 12 tracks that really 'do it' for me, and a few of them are very unlike trademark Purple.
So my final self-probing thoughts: Is it worth buying as a Purple fan? Absolutely, there is no way to be totally disappointed. Will it be their big comeback album? I hope so, but highly doubt it. At least in the US, the typical lack of pre-release information and promotion seemingly assures failure once again, but as I do love this band, I wouldn't mind eating those bananas, um, I mean, words! ;-)