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Reviews of Bananas
Ed 'Janx' Jankauskas
Mark Dorson King
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Gatefold vinyl Bananas
2003 promo photo
Jon Lord's Bananas
Jon Lord like Bananas?
Bananas in Berlin
The pros of Bananas
Roger Glover's website
Ian Gillan's website
Michael Bradford's website
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
P.S. Heartfelt thanks to the fourteen concrete gods who've given
us thirty-five years of awesome aural pleasure.
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