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The Highway Star

Abandon - an attempt at reviewing

You love a band, you want them with each new album they do to deliver. It's almost like supporting a sports team, you always want them to win. Deep Purple have scored a home run with Abandon.

I will be as objective as possible. I've made a deal with myself, that if something by Deep Purple sucks, I will say so. It's only one person's opinion, anyway, and we all know how many of those there exist ;-) I'm happy to say that Abandon does deliver, and in a big way, too. "Purpendicular" was a brilliant album, but it had one disadvantage : it showed a band that was finding its feet, and exploring many musical directions, going off in tangents even, in the process. Abandon has more of a sense of direction, of purpose. Abandon is a band that knows exactly what it's doing, and it's doing it better than anybody else in the business. I've been listening to it all morning, and let me tell you, it had me smiling from ear to ear.

Ian Paice fans will love it: the drum sound is immense, clearer and crisper than ever. Jon's hammond sound is also very impressive, retaining all that growl and power he's apparently rediscovered recently. Roger is all over, filling every nook and cranny when needed, playing understated bass lines elsewhere. Steve Morse, if anything, has integrated totally with the band's feeling and chemistry, although he still has a distinctive personal touch. And Ian Gillan? Well don't take my word for it, you can hear him for yourselves when the album's out, but the man is still the best there is. Bar none. Power, character, warmth, high notes, low end, he's got it all. I may be wrong, but I think his singing actually improves with age.

I will not comment on the tracks one-by-one, just bits that made a big impression-remember, this is early days yet. It opens with one of the album's highlights, Any Fule Kno That. This is a monster, opening with the drum beat and a low rumble from Jon's hammond, before guitars, bass and vocals crash in, with a riff reminiscent of Bloodsucker (but more of that later!). Gillan sings at a slightly lower register in the verses and it's very effective. Steve Morse makes his very tasteful presence known with some nice, sliding licks, more so in the solo in Almost Human, where he really takes off in some pyrotechnics. Don't Make Me Happy is a slow blues, with an almost New Orleans feel, and bluesy guitar playing. It gets heavier by the chorus, but never strays into the dreaded "power ballad" territory.

Seventh Heaven is another monster of a track. It's got a great melody and a great sense of dynamics, ebbing and flowing with quiet parts and that huge riff we know from the live versions. Fingers to the Bone is a contender for more commercial track on the CD, mid-tempo with acoustic guitar and a brilliant hook in the chorus. Best part is a piano solo accompanied by distant harmonica, this is a classic moment. She Was opens with an ominous keyboard sound and develops into a staccatto rhythm rocker, which really shines with a guitar/organ interplay solo, which then builds up into the ending. "She was all she said she was" indeed ;-)

'69 is the heaviest, fastest track on the album. Morse shines, as does Jon's solo, featuring a strange sound that I suppose is the hammond, but somehow modified. Evil Louie (from the lyrics I could catch) has nothing to do with anyone we know, it's a very heavy track with possibly Ian's best vocal on the album. Finally, what a finale! Bludsucker is played straight to the original version, but more powerful and modern sounding (naturally), this is a track that will benefit much from this new airing. The solos differ from those on In Rock, they are in fact modelled on the '97 live versions. Watch for some wild bending by Morse and some growling fills by Jon at the end of their second solos that actually give the track a very contemporary feel. It also has to be noted that Ian screams the last verse straight, with no studio trickery as wasthe case in 1970 (I suspect he was a little speeded-up, but I wasn't there, so...;-) Definite highlight.

Bottomline? It's a very heavy and technically accomplished album, with many tracks that I'm sure will work very well in a live environment. Also quite a few that will sound great on radio, Any Fule..., Watching the Sky and Fingers to the Bone spring to mind, bu that will probably change tomorrow :-)

As Ed Janx has rightly noted, it's the first time in ages that Purple have delivered two so strong albums back-to-back. That's our favourite band, that is :-)

Stathis N. Panagiotopoulos

Donor Section

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