Reviews of Bananas
C'est tres bon
I got a copy of 'Bananas' on the Saturday before it was allegedly due to be released here and spent all weekend listening to it and haven't stopped. C'est tres bon - in fact, I love it. After the first 5 tracks it really warms up and never loses the momentum. Don Airey's contributions don't sound very different from Jon Lord which in some ways is good but I expected his work to sound quite different. Nonetheless he did damn well, especially since Jon didn't do himself justice at all on 'Abandon' and you can't beat that good ol' Hammond sound. The rest of the band are in fine fettle which makes listening to the album a very enjoyable way to spend an hour or so.
Other reviewers have said they preferred 'Purpendicular' and 'Abandon' but I think that 'Bananas' develops the ideas that were beginning to emerge in 'Purpendicular' and were disappointingly abandoned in 'Abandon' (pun intended!). There are a couple of tracks on 'Purpendicular' I don't like and it has taken a long time for me to warm to 'Abandon' at all. That album is too one-paced and a bit dark. I like some of the songs on it but I find it disappointing as a whole.
The tracks on 'Bananas' from Walk On to the end have got me grooving well & truly! I particularly like Walk On, Pictures of Innocence, I Got Your Number & Doing It Tonight but I like the whole album. There isn't a song on the album that hasn't been buzzing around my head at some stage since I got it. I'm nit-picking but my only real criticism is that it is a bit light on for good solos but a good solo doth not maketh a good song! I would also have liked a less flippant sounding title but the packaging is interesting and well thought out.
I've also read some strange and blasphemous references to 'Sgt Pepper's' but have no idea of the context. Given that the Purps put out so few studio albums these days, I don't think progressive albums are a good idea as it will be a long time before they get the opportunity to get back on track should they need to. I generally like to listen to experienced musicians just expressing themselves and/or exploring different types of music, rather than trying to do something revolutionary or chart-busting and 'Bananas' suggests that to me. After all, hasn't Deep Purple earned that right after everything they have achieved?
There are a lot of different things on 'Bananas' and all of it is fine by me. It's nothing like the albums of the early 70s and I wouldn't want it to be. The musicians have evolved since the early 70s and there are some new members in the band too. For me, it rivals anything from Perfect Strangers onwards and is much better than 'Abandon'. A short dissertation of my opinions on the tracks:
'House of Pain' is a fairly standard DP song from the last few years. It's a good rocker and very acceptable and would be a terrific song to hear live.
I particularly like 'Sun Goes Down', my favourite of the rock & rollers. The chorus is simple but interesting in that the 2 lines are sung in response to the tune being played (I think it's played - it could be some clever singing by somebody as well).
'Haunted' is a ballad. It's not quite my thing but nice enough and not offensive.
'Razzle Dazzle' is a rather Gillanesque rocker about having a good time. Fun to listen to but not especially noteworthy.
'Silver Tongue' has a heavy 80s-type (I think keyboard but maybe drum?) synthesiser riff which grates a bit with me but it is heavy and fast. It has some good Morseyness and Airey bits in it and I actually quite like it.
'Walk On' rings a vague bell of Mk III being a slow blues tune and is nicely sung. It would a very good addition to the live show with some groovy bluesy jams inserted into the logical places. I like this one a lot, in fact it's my favourite track on the album.
'Pictures of Innocence' is a very groovy shuffle with some nifty Morseyness in particular. I like this one too.
'I Got Your Number' is another rocker with a great heavy bit at the end of the chorus. It also has some good solos and a nice slow 'Never Before' type bit in the middle which is nicely done.
'Never A Word' is lovely, almost Enya-like and a nice change of pace. Other reviewers have queried the very late introduction of the lyrics but I like it although the song stops a bit suddenly. I would have liked a short denouement to round out the song. The lyrics reinforce the mood and sentiment but don't seem essential - they just take the tune to another level and add a little intensity. Other reviewers have bagged it but I think it's beautiful and I'm very glad it's on the album.
'Bananas' is another Gillanesque rocker (with quirky lyrics) but not quite as good as the earlier ones. It's still a good one though with some good solos to finish the song.
'Doing it Tonight' is sort of heavy funk without any Hughesisms. I can't help wandering around singing 'I wonder if I'm doing it tonight, ba b-ba ba ba!'. Very catchy.
'Contact Lost' is a lovely, sweet, guitar thing but unfortunately it only goes for 1.29 and I think it would have benefited from some development but that might not be the point. A 4 minute version of this might have become something I would go back to again and again. For all that, it lets you down gently and it's one of the best ways that DP have concluded an album for a long time.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised as it exceeded my expectations and it's one of the best CDs I've bought for a while. Keep on rockin' guys and pleeeeaaaaasssse come to Australia soon.