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Rich Franz
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Tracy Heyder
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Benny Holmström
Ted Hurst
Ed 'Janx' Jankauskas
Fredrik Jiglund
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Martin Karski
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René Mikkelsen

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Chart Attack
Scunthorpe Telegraph
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Gatefold vinyl Bananas
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2003 promo photo
Jon Lord's Bananas
Does Jon Lord like Bananas?
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Roger Glover's website
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A musician's Bananas

Before I start, I have to tell you that I sing in a Deep Purple cover band, so I am going to analyse Bananas from a musician's point of view as well as a dedicated fan's of course.

First impression:
Well… not too positive, I'm afraid. First of all, I don't like the title and the cover, either. Deep Purple had the tradition of picking really interesting and mystical titles and covers upon which you could ponder for years, and I loved that! Now Bananas is breaking that tradition.
As far as the music is concerned, after five years of waiting and hoping, expectations grow high as to what the new record is going to be like. Maybe this is the reason why my immediate emotion after listening to it the first time was disappointment. I thought the album was just like its title: soft, easy, funny, and weird. My band received five copies of Bananas before the official release in my country, thanks to a fan of ours, and the guys in the band were calling me on the phone one by one asking, ''What the hell are we gonna cover from this album?”. But Dear Reader, if you haven't heard Bananas yet, don't worry, it gets pretty good (at places very good) after listening to it a couple of times!

The analysis
It's not a continuation of the Purpendicular - Abandon line, by any means, you can hear it at the first listening. It's softer, more melodic, and more colourful representing a whole bunch of different styles.
From a musical point of view it's interesting to notice that Bananas have a lot more songs and sections in major keys, which also helps create that happy, easy atmosphere. But the real heavy (like Fireball and Speed King), and the real deep (like Child In Time and Blindman) material always comes from the minor keys. The only great DP hit in a major key that I can think of right now is Woman From Tokyo. This musical change also results in the slow songs of the new album being very different from the earlier ones.
The lyrics sound very Gillan/Glover (I don't know if they were joined by other members or the producer), and as usual, they have done their homework well. My favourite line comes from Silver Tongue: ''You know I can dream in any language, Flying in my magic bed”. However, the wittiest lyrics can be found in Walk On, and the title track, Bananas.

Individual performances
IP and RG, the ultimate Purple rhythm section provide the base for the band yet again. Tight and exciting as ever. Although, you can hardly hear any fills by Paicey on the album. I wish the times back when he had a great break at the end of each line. Nowadays he seems to look for challenge in the world of rhythm rather. You can hear some exciting patterns by him. Rog seems a bit more restrained too, but I love his bass line in I Got Your Number (mid-section).
The performance I had been looking forward to most was Don's. And he wasn't a disappointment for me at all. He has a lot of great solos, although sometimes I miss the melody from them. I could always sing or whistle Jon Lord's solos! As far as the sound is concerned, I prefer Jon's settings on the Hammond, more direct, more expressive. And one thing our organist remarked, the balance between guitar and organ has been lost in DP for a long time now. Ever since Steve joined with his powerful sound, the Hammond has been forced to be inferior. It's true for this record, too.
Nevertheless, Steve is great as usual, especially in the slow numbers. Both Haunted and Contact Lost have some really outstanding guitar work. His rock solos seem a bit standard, but maybe it's just that we have got used to his playing over the nine years he has spent with Purple.
Ian Gillan sounds confident again, that opening scream tells it all. I'm glad he has left those strange rapping-like vocals he used on the previous two albums behind, and I'm saying this in spite of the fact that Ted The Mechanic, and Any Fule Kno' That are two of my favourites from the 90's. This time he has a lot of classic IG vocals, but at times - especially over verse riffs - he sings real clichés. But I like that shining tone in his voice, he sounds like he's happy to sing again.

And now let me have a look at each song more specifically:

1. House Of Pain
I had the fortune/misfortune to hear this track as an appetizer before listening to the whole record. Fortune, because it's a great song, and misfortune, because it gave me a totally wrong idea as to what the rest of the album was going to be like. It's a heavy, mid-tempo Purple song based on a cool riff. It starts off with aggressive cowbell playing and a classic scream from Big Ian, and surprises you with a harmonica solo at the end. Strangely enough, in a way it reminds me of The House Of The Blue Light album. Actually it was the first song my band agreed to cover, as it is the most ''purplish” on the record.

2. Sun Goes Down
It's a slow, dark, and heavy number with a dissonant chord sequence that never seems to build up into a real harmony. Being a Black Sabbath fan as well, I don't find anything wrong with dark music, but for some reason it has never worked for Deep Purple. I don't really like the Sabbath album ''Born Again” (feat. IG) for that matter, either, but as I know, Ian hates it, too. He is a rock 'n roller, not a heavy metal singer, and the same applies to the band.

3. Haunted
And here we are at the song that will divide the world of DP fans. The first really big surprise for the unsuspecting listener. It's a ballad, but nothing like the ones before. Robbie Williams could have sung this one. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration… But let me share a personal experience with you. After having listened to Bananas twice, I was playing this song on my stereo to my wife to astonish her how commercial Deep Purple had gone. But while we were listening to it, I had to admit that I liked what I heard (you see, it only took three times to get to like it), and then as the last notes faded out my baby said, ''What's your problem with it? It's a great song!” And she was right. I still can't get used to the female backing vocals, though. What?! To me it's a bit like the brass band in Highway Star on the Olympia record… What's next? A saxophone solo?

4. Razzle Dazzle
A very commercial, and very American song. When it starts, in my mind I can almost hear Joe Lynn Turner enter with the vocals. Of course it doesn't happen, but apart from that, this track would fit nicely between Breakfast In Bed and Too Much Is Not Enough on Slaves And Masters. Razzle Dazzle along with Sun Goes Down are the two songs I still couldn't make friends with after listening to the album about 10 times.

5. Silver Tongue
A classic Purple riff leads us into a progressive rhythmic pattern, Dream Theater style (maybe not that progressive…). It sounds like real good hard rock stuff, but then IG comes in with a happy 60's type tune, which doesn't fit the song. This effect is even fortified by Steve's fills of the same spirit in the second verse. But it's a good idea that the third verse sees Don playing the fills in the same place, and they are bluesier, too. The song also has a great chorus, and a kind of mid-section á la Steve Morse. All in all, a great Purple track we might welcome back on stage one day.

6. Walk On
This is the track I loved as soon as I had heard it. The classic Purple blues. There's a psychedelic frame around the actual song. Big Ian came up with superb tunes here, catchy, but not commercial, perfect! Steve has a very neat solo half way through, in which he proves that he can play the guitar very well with half as many notes as usual, too. ''Walk On”, my first good friend from the new album.

7. Picture Of Innocence
It starts very bluesy over a groovy shuffle. In that well-known and much loved atmosphere of Lazy, and Fire In The Basement. This bit returns later after a very 90's Purple chord sequence, and a hard rocking riff that could have been written for Abandon, too. The mid-section has quite a progressive rhythmic pattern again, and it is followed by Steve and Don's solos. Jon Lord is indicated as one of the writers under the title. It's good to see his name up there again.

8. I Got Your Number
A song Purple has been playing live for a while now, and having read all the enthusiastic remarks about it in the tour reviews, I was really looking forward to hearing it. And yes, the contented fans were right, it's a very good song. It has eight different parts, and all of them are great, except for one, and it's the verse again. This time it's not only the vocals that don't fit, I think the riff also should have been used in a completely different song. But the rest of this fantastic piece of music does compensate for that weakness. And I absolutely love that psychedelic mid-section. It's simply wonderful! Kind of like Watching The Sky from the previous album, or maybe even Fools from the Fireball LP.

9. Never A Word
Here comes surprise number two! A song you would never have thought Deep Purple would ever write. The music gives you the first surprise, although we have heard similar stuff from Steve, e.g. in Aviator. But then the vocals come in and we get the real surprise, because we have never heard IG sing like this. I told our keyboard player that I had heard this sort of singing somewhere, but I don't know where, and he was kind enough to inform me that it must have been Simon and Garfunkel. And he was right! Another friend of mine remarked that he had known this musical theme from a Yes song. But if we concentrate on the song alone, we have to confess that it's really pretty.

10. Bananas
After a weird ''sci-fi” intro we get to my other immediate favourite, the title track, which is also the fastest song on the record. I can hardly wait to sing it, and play it (on the harmonica) on stage, but it will be a real challenge for my band to play, first of all because of the rhythm. The verses and the solos are in 7/4, the chorus is in 5/4. And then there's that fantastic classical bit, in which Don Airey plays like crazy! When I listen to that part, The House Of The Blue Light comes into my mind again. Hmm… It's not a lengthy track, but one of the absolute highlights of the new record. And I love Ian's harmonica playing. Awesome!

11. Doing It Tonight
Purple playing soft rock over a very light rhythm pattern. About half a year ago I heard the same musical theme on MTV in a pop song. I think it tells a lot about it. Unfortunately I can't recall the artist and the song, but if you can, please write me, because I keep thinking about it and it drives me up the wall! Or to be more appropriate, I'm going Bananas!

12. Contact Lost
A breathtaking piece of music, demonstrating Steve's emotional side, just like Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming, except that here he has only a minute and a half to show how much feeling he can squeeze out of his guitar. It's a nice tribute for the victims of that tragic spaceship accident, and a nice ending to this colourful new record.

So this was Bananas, the new DP album the way I see it. I think we have to accept that the last Purple album that contained only potential super hits came out in 1972, and instead of bitching about it, we have to appreciate the fact that these guys can still come up with some fantastic stuff, and the rest is not that bad, either. This album has its highs and lows too, but it's very complex, and very exciting. Much more interesting than Abandon was. And it surely is the typical album that you have to listen to several times to get to know, and to get to like.

After the first listening I almost jumped out the window, and now I'm starting to love it! And I started my review by saying that after hearing Bananas the first time, my DP cover band could hardly name one song worth covering, and now my phone keeps ringing, ''We must play I Got Your Number!”, ''We must play Bananas!”, ''We must play Silver Tongue!”etc. I can hardly wait to add these exciting new songs to our setlist.

Attila Scholtz

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