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Now What?! – The First Review

First of all, let’s dispense with the hype : the record label claim that the new Purple album is a cross between Made in Japan and Machine Head (or words to that effect) is just that, hype, and a bit unfair to both incarnations of the band, the current and the one responsible for those masterworks. After all, the two main soloists in the band are different people, impossible to compare to each other.

What is definitely NOT hype is that on this new album, Deep Purple do what they do best, what they have done on numerous occasions in the past : dispense with the rule book. Consciously or not, they look at what people expect from Purple, and then proceed to not pay any attention to it. They’ve done it with In Rock, Fireball, Come Taste The Band, Purpendicular and now once again with Now What?!
Deep Purple - Now what?! artwork; image courtesy of Edel/earMUSIC
This is the most unusual, interesting, unexpected album Purple have done for a very long time. This is the definition of a progressive rock band.

I shall not go into the usual track-by-track thing, I’l just single out things like the plethora of circular riffs on “Aprez Vous”, the complex construction of things like “Uncommon Man” , “Body Line” and “Blood From A Stone”, the hooks and melodies on “A Simple Song” or “Out Of Hand”, the horror movie atmosphere on, appropriately enough “Vincent Price” (a standout with Gillan’s weird, treated vocals), oh, lots and lots of interesting stuff.

It’s telling that the single features two tracks so vastly different to one another – a classic Purple rocker and what is perhaps the most…sly song they’ve ever done, see, “All The Time In The World” is so simple, almost unremarkable at first listen, but gets you well and truly hooked, until you feel it’s one of the absolute best songs the have ever written.
Deep Purple - All the Time in the World
This is an album so densely packed with ideas that it can only be fully enjoyed through repeated listens.
Not having had access to a full resolution copy, I can only imagine the full extent of Ezrin’s production-if we’re to judge from the two tracks on the single, it’s definitely widescreen. Certainly I don’t think anyone has managed to capture Gillan’s voice so well in recent years, he sound incredible on all tracks.

Instrumentally the album is dominated by Morse’s “bluesier” playing, the one that regular concert goers have been experiencing on recent tours, and by Don’s immense variety of sounds. Rhythm-section watchers will have a LOT to sink their teeth into.

In closing what is, of necessity, a short review, two points :
“Now What?!” has been well worth the eight year wait since “Rapture…”. This is a Deep Purple album to enjoy, explore, cherish and be proud of.
Seeing as the CD is dedicated to Jon, I only wish he was around to enjoy it. He would have been very proud indeed.

P.S. The bonus track, “It’ll Be Me” is a Jerry Lee Lewis song that the Javelins used to do back in the day.

Stathis Panagiotopoulos



17 Comments to “Now What?! – The First Review”:

  1. 1
    LRT says:

    “It’ll Be Me” was recorded by many, why not elude to the Elvis factor in the state they recorded it in? Clues abound, reviewer! This is not a product review, it is simply a “content” review and there is a difference, but I do agree with much of it. The final product is all that should really be worth evaluating for proper review, as the cover and liner notes along with the production give credence to proper analyzing. Darkest, most interesting and exciting “material” post 1993. That much can be said. These previews in every form they come in, don’t set up the half of it. They usually just get the nuts out of the person doing it who’s usually trying to get “pole positioning” for mention of having heard it early. It’s the pros that really bring it for the band support, but opinions can be interesting either way. A Purple rat race. 🙂

  2. 2
    Stathis says:

    I didn’t know Elvis had done the song, only had it on an old, secondhand Jerry Lee 45…

  3. 3
    LRT says:

    Oops, Stathis, I didn’t catch this was you… you must strike my words simply because I suspected it was a gun jumper variety, as there are a lot of dodgy types getting a word in edge-wise, while the pro-active journo variety get snubbed. lol You know there is a bit of craziness here and I’m guilty of contributing to that myself. It really does change my outlook upon this blog entry. Nice to hear your thoughts it seemed I wasn’t exactly keen on. I retract, not that anyone’s opinion doesn’t matter, they all do. It’s this racing some are up to that shrouded me. 🙂 Always great to hear from your perspective, and rather rare these days indeed.

  4. 4
    Rasmus says:

    Larry, congratulations on your pole position with that first comment. It obviously came at a price.

  5. 5
    LRT says:

    lol, indeed it did!(tail placed firmly between legs!) 🙂

  6. 6
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Larry

    Should I now be childish and nag about you not going all the way?
    Meaning : To me it seems crucial who wrote a review.
    What a slide , not looking for the reviewer, nag nag nag.

    Nope.

    I dont know either version : )

    Yep, gap in my horizon, or something like that.

  7. 7
    Michiel Blijboom says:

    @fedordelange klinkt goed! http://t.co/8G4iFUgmDv

  8. 8
    Fedor says:

    @Michielblijboom zeker! Lang niet gehad, deze voorpret.

    Thanks Stathis for the appetizer.

  9. 9
    T says:

    When the officially leaked samples came out, I peaked–but the information gleaned from these tracks remains ambiguous at best, and even Gillan stated that he was at a bit of a loss to explain the label’s choices.

    I have decided to do no more peaking. The two [relatively] complete songs are becoming familiar despite being outside the context of the new album’s running order. The opportunity exists to get about 30 seconds’ worth of each song on the album. I will pass and wait. It won’t be long now, anyway.

    The reaction from those who have heard the disc appears to be universally positive. The fact that Purpendicular came out in my area around the end of April all those years ago can be taken as a good omen. Plus ça change…

  10. 10
    Brad DeMoranville says:

    Thanks for the review, Stathis.

  11. 11
    R says:

    look at youtube “gillan scream 2013” and you get another sample :o)

  12. 12
    Philippe Warda says:

    Quick Question. Just got an email from Amazon US that the release of this record was delayed from April to May 14th. Any particular reason for this?

  13. 13
    Mathieu says:

    I was able to hear NOW What ?! before the press conference the two Ians gave in Paris two days ago.

    Let me share my thougts.

    The first thing that strikes me is I’m unable to compare what I heard with anything else the band has done before. Sure this is Deep Purple, you can not miss it. And this is Mk Morse, no doubt about it. But it ends here for me. Rapture of the Deep was a kind of a synthesis of the three previous records, this one sounds like a new start. This is no Purpendicular meets Abandon as I read a lot. Not to me at least.

    The reason why? This album seems to be the child of seven years of non stop touring. I’m pretty sure Bob Ezrin said to the good guys “Here is what I like from your gigs, let’s put it on a record”. Here and there you can find a lot of what Deep Purple MkVIII does on stage. The result is the album has a true live feeling never heard before. Very exctiting.

    It’s obvious Bob Ezrin just perfectly understood what Deep Purple is about in 2013, and took the best from the musicians. His input seems massive. Sure the band wrote the music. But Ezrin was right behind them, doing like a director. He’s been the outside ears the band needed for years…

    I’m pretty sure he is the reason why there is so much (good) work on vocal melodies for instance. To be honest, Gillan’s lines were a little bit easy and lazy last time around. Not this time, and that’s a heck of a good progress. Almost everything is catchy, you can’t stop huming it the rest of the day. Little doubt he told Steve Morse to slow down a little bit. There are almost no super quick chromatic solos on the album.

    What makes the album so strong is that there seems to be no fillers on it. Even the lightest tracks have something to give. That what not the case with Rapture of the Deep to tell the truth. Back to the easy and lazy approach the band was able to fall into… But not anymore! Proof of that is no track sounds like another one on NOW What?! Diversity is the word.

    I won’t go into a track by track, especially after just one hearing. But I can tell you there is a standout number on the record, a Deep Purple classic on the making. “Out of Hand” has the majesty and the power of Perfect Strangers and Battle rages on, no kidding! Other very good tracks are the two singles (way better in their full version, wait to hear the key solo on “Hell to pay”!),” A simple Song”, “Uncommun Man” and “Weirdistan”. At worst, there seems to be a soft spot, but “Blood from a Stone” and “Above and beyond” could very well be growers…

    All in all, I am impressed. And excited. Job well done, gentlemen!

  14. 14
    LRT says:

    @13

    Not much I would add without the spoil factor, really. But that is from one listen, think about it fans, this person isn’t playing around anymore than them, and his description is very perceptive. It’s like nothing they’ve done, but like stuff they’ve done individually, perhaps. That to me is why they shine like brand new. Nuff said, this guy nails it!

    @6

    It’s called respect, and I respect you but I don’t appreciate your agenda here. I wear a white hat. 🙂

  15. 15
    Mathieu says:

    @14
    One listen, and from a (MkMorse) die-hard I must admit…
    But I tried to be as much honest as possible. I don’t cheat with my feelings. Initial feelings are very positive this time, I can tell you!

  16. 16
    PHILIPPE says:

    I only know two pieces, and I must admit that ‘hell to pay’ is a super good piece.
    Strongly concerts in Belgium, France and Germany
    Philippe, Belgium

  17. 17
    Sabbatical says:

    Not bad for Ian Gillan Band, but it is fefinitely NOT Deep Purple because since Ritchie left the magic’s been gone …

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