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Rapture of the Deep
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Daniel Bengtsson
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Deep Purple - "Rapture of the Deep"
A review by Daniel Bengtsson

Deep Purple spent five weeks recording their new album "Rapture of the Deep". This fact becomes very evident when listening to the album. What we have here is a collection of songs that sound as if they were born in a jam situation, with five guys in a room together bouncing ideas off of each other. The album's got a definite live feel to it.

Whether it was a result of the addition of Don Airey to the band or the choice of working with Michael Bradford, "Bananas" was a new step for Deep Purple in many ways. There was an old-fashioned rock and roll feel to the songs which was embraced by many fans. They go one step further with this tight but loose approach on "Rapture of the Deep". This is a different beast compared to "Bananas". It's darker, harder and dare I say more adventurous. The songs follow a similar pattern and this makes for a very cohesive album, although one or two fast rockers wouldn't have been out of place. It might not be as easily accessible as "Bananas" was, but I'm on my fifth listen as I type this review and it just gets better.

Some of the songs remind me of the mid-tempo stuff on "Abandon" but this material works better. Many fans are sure to take this album to their hearts, whereas some of the old timers may be confused with parts of it. In truth, the band's creative juices are currently flowing and I have a feeling this material is exactly what some fans were hoping for.

My first impression is that Ian Gillan sounds very inspired. Buckets full of attitude. It reminds me of his approach to singing on projects like "Cherkazoo" and the Ian Gillan Band. It's obviously very different from that, but there's something about his vocal delivery and the quirky nature of these lyrics that really show off his uniqueness as a singer and as a wordsmith. Results are almost always rewarding when he is in the mood for questioning authorities, and he takes many opportunities to do so on this album. "MTV" (European bonus track) is a particularly fine example of this and one of my favorites on the album. Excellent lyrics lashing out at journalists asking way too many predictable questions and making fools of themselves while doing so. When Gillan sings "Mr. Grover, Mr. Gillian oh you must have made a million on the night that Frank Zappa caught on fire" it's difficult for me to explain just how good it is. Not to mention the steaming Hammond solo and Paice's insanely tasty drumming to back it up. Many similarities to "No One Came" in the way Gillan sings it, while still being totally different. In a way, the stuff made of Purple dreams. Hell, Ian Paice even gets a "Space Truckin'" drum roll in there somehow!

Steve Morse's and Don Airey's interplay is now more refined and they get more chances to shine here than on "Bananas". Case in point: the way they complement each other in "Don't Let Go" (feel good chorus!). Their ground work on the title track is very solid too. In fact, the whole band cooks on "Rapture". Unlike anything else to have come out of the Morse line-up this song is based on an oriental melody line which Airey and Morse plays simultaneously to great effect. Dreamy singing from Gillan (think "Cherkazoo") and a driving power rhythm all throughout. The sounds Airey wrench out of his Hammond are wonderful. A very successful attempt at trying something new.

"Clearly Quite Absurd" is the ballad on the album. Driven by a delicate guitar melody from Morse it might not quite scale the same emotional heights as "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming", but it fares a whole lot better than "Haunted" which followed too much of a formula. Just when you thought you had this one figured out, it starts to build with some nice layered guitar and a short but sweet burst of Hammond to top it off. Gillan sings beautifully here. They need to include this on the upcoming tour.

"Girls Like That" features a relentlessly driving riff with a sweet chorus to boot. "Wrong Man" bears resemblances to "Whatsername" from Abandon but is groovier. Very little happens in "Back to Back" - a weak spot on the album.

"Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" is another gem. A drum rhythm gets the thing going and then there's that chugging riff. Gillan singing "Did a bad thing, I did a bad thing, I did a bad thing, did a bad bad thing..." leaves you in no doubt that he did. Add some vintage Paice breaks and a warm, fat Hammond tone to the mix and all is well in Purple land. Another highlight. "Junkyard Blues" has an immediate funk vibe courtesty of Morse. Catchy chorus. Airey gets out the honky tonk piano for an extended solo mid song. Morse comes in with the riff again at the end, and it almost sounds like a first take. The energy is contagious. And just when you thought things couldnÂ’t possibly get much better, Ian Paice brings the proceedings to a close with a drum fill hardcore fans are sure to remember from days of old.

"Before Time Began" ends the album on a somewhat somber note. A promising song and a bit unusual for Purple. The outro could definitely have used some extension. As it sits right now it ends rather abruptly. Let's hope they take the opportunity to make this song an improvisation vehicle once the tour rolls around.

In summary, a very interesting effort by the band. They are discovering some new musical themes which I found refreshing. Everyone plays very well and the jamming spirit is certainly alive. The album is not without its faults, but on the other hand some of it is really, really good. Can't wait for the tour in 2006!

Daniel Bengtsson

Daniel is the man behind Steve Morse's official website. He is also a regular contributor to The Highway Star. At the moment he is studying at Lund University in Sweden.

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