[ d e e p P u r . p l e )
The Highway Star

Top of feature

Reviews of Bananas
Amazon UK
Associated Press
Business Standard
Classic Rock Revisited
Moe Cullity
Robert Daems
Electric Basement
Rich Franz
Fabricio Geo
Robert Gloria
Rasmus Heide
Tracy Heyder
Dave Hodgkinson
Paer Holmgren
Benny Holmström
Ted Hurst
Ed 'Janx' Jankauskas
Fredrik Jiglund
Dennis Karlsson
Martin Karski
Mark Dorson King
Stefan Krüger
Christer Lorichs
Don Love
Jeremy Marples
Melodic Rock.com
René Mikkelsen

The Music Index
Stathis Panagiotopoulos

Rob Prior
The Profile
Julian Radbourne
La Repubblica
Dave Rudders
Attila Scholtz
Garry Smith
Jan Thielking
Catrin Wiegand

Chart Attack
Scunthorpe Telegraph
Le Zine

New album stuff
Gatefold vinyl Bananas
Studio photos
2003 promo photo
Jon Lord's Bananas
Does Jon Lord like Bananas?
Charting Bananas
Associated Press
Bananas in Berlin
The pros of Bananas

Related sites
Roger Glover's website
Ian Gillan's website
Michael Bradford's website

Imaginary reviews
Your reviews
Your reviews 2
Your reviews 3
Your reviews 4

Back to Specials index


Come taste the Bananas

I'm in serious danger of wearing out the grooves of my Bananas CD. The more I play it, the more I love Deep Purple's new album. Inspired songwriting, superb musicianship and crisp, polished production. But why do I hear criticism of the title and cover? Where's yer sense of humour? Purple at their best were a fun band and this album has the elements I've always loved: dazzling instrumental interplay, grandiose arrangements, Ian Gillan's powerful vocals, oft wry lyrics and the swing of drummer Ian Paice and bassist Roger Glover. On a few tracks they even venture into never before trodden territory - way to go, guys!

Making his Purple recording debut, keyboard maestro Don Airey leaps onto the roundabout and, in contrast to the new tonalities guitar whiz Steve Morse infused in 1995, the Hammond sound we know and love has an air of familiarity.... thanks Don. A credible and incredible lineup of The Purps sans Blackmore and Lord... who'd have thunk it? You see, the challenge of a band with a track record like Deep Purple is that their latest offering will often be compared with their past landmarks, so a word of advice: try to do the impossible and listen to this album as if it were by a new, unknown act. I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised.

House of Pain
A tribute to their long-standing manager, Bruce Payne? I think not. This one kicks off with a four-on-the-floor geetar riff punctuated with cowbell, reminiscent of Take It Off the Top from Morsey's Dixie Dregs repertoire. But with the first banshee scream, that's where the similarity ends. It's a full-throttle rock 'n' roller coaster where "my friends all say I'm losing it big time" and a massive chorus chant that'll need Steve and Roger's support in concert. Steve's solo incorporates Billy Gibbonlike false harmonics (come to think of it, the song is very ZZ Purp), there's a nod to Jon from Don and we're into an escalating series of guitar/organ runs. Thrilling stuff! Hang on, I'll just check if my player is on 78 rpm; nope it's on 33. Fading out with Gillan's harmonica and screams, the ride has just begun. As a live opener, the crowd would go bananas.

Sun Goes Down
A sinister organ intro recalls Perfect Stranglers and heralds a heavier sound; this is classic Purple and one of Paicey's favourites. Guitar and organ mesh on a menacing riff, laying the foundations for passionate vocals from Big G. Just wait for the middle section where drums alone accompany the singing, culminating in a whole lotta zep wail. In fact, IG's vocals are truly outstanding on the entire album. Is the man getting younger or what? Steve's solo is oh so cool and Don's frantic, demented organ solo carries us over the horizon as the sun goes down. Whew!

Hmmm..... okay let's word this carefully. A high school friend once taught me that music is neither good nor bad, it's all a matter of taste. With its string section and female backing vocals, this ballad is not a bad song - it's simply not my cup of fruit. But if you like it, I'm genuinely happy for you. Are they aiming for an AOR hit single? Does everyone in the band actually like this song? Thank god for the programmability of CD players! Admittedly, Steve pulls off a blinder of a solo. It may grow on me, I'll get back to you in a year.

Razzle Dazzle
A very commercial sound, my friends all say I'm crazy, but I don't mind this jaunty little tune. Dense, harmonised vocals in the catchy chorus and "what are we doing here, nobody remembers!" tickles my funny bone, dunno why, it just does. Love the treated spacey vocals in the middle... producer Bradford's influence? Neat tambourine and go Donny on the honky tonk piano! Reminding me vaguely of Mary Long, in the seventies this one would have had "hit single" stamped all over it.

Silver Tongue
Another of little Ian's faves, it's based on his rhythmic idea - an insistent monotonal industrial groove, fuelled by Don's organic synths. Distant cousin of Unwritten Law, love this one, some great heavy riffing in the middle, makes me wanna dance! Gillan's in fine voice again and recycles "I may be crazy but I'm not stupid" from Abandon's Watching the Sky - how white album Beatlesque. What a brilliant fade: amidst discordant organ chords and metallic six string squawking, Gillan scats with the bluesy guitar theme. Very cool.

Walk On
Now here's a ballad I really love, this is hauntingly beautiful. Wistful vocals and superb rising and falling dynamics take us on a nice comfy Sunday ride. See, I really am a sensitive kinda guy. Hearing "you mean more to me than just a pretty face" and "you know I don't like to fight, no matter who's wrong or right", we wonder if we've heard our singer so sentimental before. But sappy this song ain't. We're treated to a perfect ending with lazy organ noodlings, a nifty bass flourish from Roger and atmospheric sound effects which bring us gently down to earth.

Picture of Innocence
I set my CD player to "shuffle" mode and this one kicked in. A funky snare and finger clicking prelude from Messrs Paice and Morse gives no real indication of what's to come. Whoa, this song is a monster, totally blows me away! The five youngsters in this quintet fuse together in a mighty way. With a commanding chorus "no deals, no strokes, no forbidden fruit and no holy smoke", when Gillan's angry he may be self-righteous but he's not bitter. The piece is rousing, but too adventurous, too prog to become an anthem - how could your average punter remember so many words? I've heard Steve describe Paicey as "a heavy Ringo" and, with his groovy stumbling fills, he can take that as a compliment... but you and I know he's much, much better.

I've Got Your Number
At exactly six minutes, another very complex number. It succeeds where, to me, similar tracks on Abandon failed. Again, everyone shines and there's plenty of light and shade. Dynamics have always been a hallmark of Deep Purple's greatest works. Replete with a multitude of indestructible guitar/bass/organ/synth riffs, this epic slinks, turns and syncopates. I've heard diehard ritchiephiles debating endlessly whether Steve's riffs are on par with Ritchie's. It's a pointless argument: if Steve's too different, he's not gonna satisfy 'em and if he's too similar then he's derivative and boring! I love them both, but Steve is unquestionably the guitarist for purple.mark8.com. This track and every other vindicates the decision to invite Don to be Jon's replacement. But was Jon's knee the real reason they asked Don to dep on their 2001Scandinavian? Gee I'd love to know. A lovely gesture for Jon to lend Don his Hammond indefinitely. Did Jon play on the album?

Never a Word
A lighter shade of purple, quite a departure from their recognisable sound, what a little gem. Madrigal influences abound with baroque guitar, church organ and maybe harpsichord. Intentionally misplaced drum accents add interest. Two-thirds through and our minstrel appears, singing tenderly in unison with the guitar melody. Simple but effective. Is "someone as lost in love as he..... all day, all Night" a sly reference to the man in black tights and his other half? Ask cryptic wordsmiths Gillan and Glover and you may be none the wiser!

Wow, the first time I've heard the Deeps using time signatures of sevens and fives! I can't dance to that. Steve's influence? Quite possibly. But how the hell can they make the track flow in such weird compound times? Says Steve "that's Ian Paice who always keeps the swing going" and, the only surviving founder member reveals, it was "a little confusing, but it sorted itself out in the studio". At almost five minutes, the last two minutes are an exhilarating tussle between Airey and Morse which include a totally bananas series of runs played at a breakneck pace. Remember when we first heard the harmonised runs on Mandrake Root from their first album? Man, I love self-indulgent music, stuff that Lou Reed fans would find lurid. And what of the song itself? A very tasty, somewhat bent crop with magnificent vocals, bluesy lunch wrapper and a seemingly seamless rhythm section from the men in bandanas. Too clever by half. "Now my love is richer than rich, cause I've studied mathematics, graduated without honours, everyone has gone bananas!"

Doing it Tonight
Bo Diddley visits Latin America? Not the least bit hard rock, but very catchy (there's that word again), this one got stuck in my brain for a day. I really like it! Roger and Ian lock into an infectious rhythm with subtle inflections that bear repeated listens. "I'm ragged round the edges" claims Gillan, quoting Jack Ruby from the previous elpee, more fab Sgt Purple. The headbangers may be scratching their receding hairlines, but that's their problem. This song will be the major international hit that will put Deep Purple back on the map.

Contact Lost
Sublime. Steve's touching ode to the tragic space shuttle Columbia event. The first instrumental on a purple album for yonks, it's the perfect ending to a classic album. With stunning legato guitar orchestration, Steve has explored this territory in his Dregs and solo journeys, but this is "very special" according to Paice. At just ninety seconds, we're left wanting more, so flip the CD over and replay.

Congratulations chaps, it was well worth the wait, but please don't make us wait five years until the next one. Mark eight can be very proud of this masterpiece. Ten out of ten. We thaaaaaaank you, yeow! Please come back down under asap. In seventy-four they incited us to burn, but don't do it dear reader. Even if someone slings you a CDR, make sure you buy the album. To paraphrase the liner notes of In Rock, "it takes all sorts, support your fave group".

Rob Prior Sydney, Australia

P.S. Heartfelt thanks to the fourteen concrete gods who've given us thirty-five years of awesome aural pleasure.

Back to front


Donor Section

[ en-gb ] [ en-us ] [ de ] [ ja ] [ it ] [ pl ]


Subscribe to:
The Highway Star Update!

Participate in:
Purple discussions

Join the:
Mailing lists

Purple Tours
Tour Dates
Tour Reviews

Purple Music
Upcoming Releases

Sound Archives
MIDI Archives
Movie Archives

Other Sections
Frequently Asked Q's
Image Gallery
Purple Contributions
Special Features
Bios/Family Tree
Joanna's Gossip
Who To Blame