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Neither a bang, nor a whimper


Louder Sound publishes a Perfect Strangers retrospective penned by Geoff Barton:

Bangkok. Barcelona. Beijing. Berlin. Bedford?! Deep Purple have always been a contrary band but this is pushing contrariness to the limit. It’s October 1984 and I’m travelling in cackling PR Roland Hyams’s knackered old Saab 900 up the M1 to the markedly unremarkable capital of Bedfordshire, namely Bedford. My mission is to interview all five members of the reunited Deep Purple Mk II. In a pub. In Bedford.

The official word is that they want to rehearse their live show in an unassuming location, away from big-city scrutiny. So it is that I find myself loitering inside a Berni Inn (Google it), with the scent of cremated steaks and exotic gateaux lingering in the air.

Continue reading in Louder Sound.

25 Comments to “Neither a bang, nor a whimper”:

  1. 1
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Am I the only one who preferred Knocking At Your Back Door to Perfect Strangers when the album came out? Don’t get me wrong, PS is a great song too, but KAYBD was galactic to me … the keyboard intro, Roger’s chugging bass, Paicey’s drums coming in, that majestic Blackmore riff and Gillan’s lyrics, Blackmore’s solos in the middle and at the end, that nifty part where he plays the riff with a slide in his own inimitable bottleneck style …

    I really was a chest-beating way of Purple to state that they are back. King Kong returns.

    Compared to all these tour-de-force qualities of classic DP evident in KAYBD, I found (and find) PS a bit static and rigid in arrangement, live versions of it have never strayed very far from the studio original, it’s just not that type of song.

    In contrast, just listen to what Blackmore does towards the end of the song here …


  2. 2
    MacGregor says:

    That Perfect Strangers promotional image has always made me, well cringe a little actually. Especially the way Jon Lord & Ian Gillan are looking. We have to admire Blackmore as always, that look of ‘what the f..k are you looking at’, ha ha ha. Glover & Paice still have that devil may care look to this day. Cheers.

  3. 3
    Uwe Hornung says:

    “Neither a bang, nor a whimper” is a nice way to sum up Perfect Strangers. My impressions when I heard it back then were:

    – It sounded better (production and band interplay) than anything Rainbow, Whitesnake or Gillan had done in the years before. I hadn’t liked how WS sounded on Slide It In, Bent Out Of Shape by Rainbow had a squeaky-clean feel to it and Little Ian had been underselling his talent in Gary Moore’s music which didn’t give him (or anybody else for that matter except Moore) room to breathe.

    – It was more varied than either Rainbow or Whitesnake, but not as off-the-wall as Gillan (the band), but then that band had gone over the heads of many people.

    – Big Ian was in a fine voice, Ritchie sounded inspired and you could hear more of Roger, Jon and Litte Ian than in their previous bands (Rainbow, WS and Gary Moore), they also played looser.

    – The song material (original vinyl track list) was two absolute belters (KAYBD + PS) plus some good stuff (Wasted Sunsets + Hungry Daze, perhaps also Under The Gun + Mean Streak if you’re generous) and a few okay’ish fillers (Nobody’s Home + Gypsy’s Kiss), nothing awful though. I didn’t think any of it eclipsed WDWTWA, but, realistically, I wasn’t expecting that either, they had been apart for a while after all and were all saturated men approaching middle age.

    – Overall, the album felt a little safe along the lines of “Let’s not confuse the audience!” and “Let’s not push the envelope too much (as Sabbath’s Born Again bravely had) and seek conflict with Ritchie, he only just rejoined!”

    – It wasn’t one of the amazing albums of the mid-80ies, but nothing to be ashamed of either. I was happy – not exuberant – with it at the time. The most recent DP + Family albums I had really, really liked back then had with the exception of Born Again all been quite a few years back: Down To Earth, Hughes Thrall, Double Trouble (studio album) and Ready And Willing.

    THOBL – though less commercial – would be more to my liking, but that is another story.

  4. 4
    Jim Sheridan says:

    Disagree strongly with the conclusion that the Perfect Strangers album did not live up to the band’s legacy. I’d actually argue that it captured their live sound BETTER than some of the 70s stuff did.

  5. 5
    Gregster says:


    The PS album set the std for all the reunion albums, & they got better & better with each Mk-II release…The lyrics throughout tell interesting stories, & the album has to be one of the 1980’s best effort from any band. And THoBL solidifies this trend…TBRO simply kicks-major-ass.

    Certainly worth a 40-year celebration at the least, & it also can be seen as the album that started off the rest-of-the-bands career, since they’ve never stopped since !

    Peace !

  6. 6
    Uwe Hornung says:

    As I’ve written before, I believe they cant do anything sensible with Perfect Strangers at the eve of its 40th anniversary, because there is no surviving source material. The last ‘remasters’ date from 1999, PolyGram days, they were nothing to write home about, but this was still the dawn of remastering. But basically all they did back then was a casual wipe-over to give the recording some sheen and make it louder on CD. Even then they were unable to locate the source tapes.

    But I agree, as an historic artifact igniting the reunion (which lasts to this day – give a banjo player or two -, who would have realistically thought that back then?) and as a strong (not stunning) comeback of Mk II after an almost 11 year hiatus that album deserves a commemorative release. With Jon turned up!

    It would be great if the master tapes for PS and THOBL would show up again, but I’m not betting on it + nobody seems to be actively searching.

  7. 7
    francis lavaud says:

    hello, for me when I listened to this album when it came out it was a disappointment…I had difficulty comparing their separation in 1973 to their reunion in 1984, in short apart from KAYBD nothing is really of this content for the rest of the album….

  8. 8
    Gareth says:

    This needs to be released as a deluxe edition with the live at Knebworth album as bonus discs with good packaging as the original is pretty cheap with notes and photos about the reunion and making of the album.
    Would be good to include any outakes or alternative versions as well.
    Maybe a job for Simon Robinson 🤔

  9. 9
    Ole says:

    I think the album is great. But the lyrics om KAYBD is just not my cup of tea – som sex related songs are ok but these lyracs are too much for me. Interesting that Jon Lord critized David Coverdale for Burn and other lyrics but never said anything about lyrics Gillan wrote like KATBD and Mitzi Dupree 😉

  10. 10
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Objection, Ole! Mitzi Dupree is an artful and charming homage to a chance meeting on a plane, two adults who find each other attractive and flirt with each other, DC could never muster the same twinkle in his eye and self-deprecating humor (‘ooh, have another drink”). And it’s all true, Mitzi aka Michelle was a talented girl, you try doing what she did!



    As regards KAYBD, it’s not just about backside humping, but also a humorous swipe at social climbing (“now she eases gently from her Austin to her Bentley, suddenly she feels so young …”). Wiki writes:


    The song is lyrically about anal sex, as it uses various sexual innuendos throughout the song. Ian Gillan commented:

    There’s this guy named Redbeard, from a radio station down in Texas. He phoned me up after it had been played on every radio station in America and said, “Is this what I think it’s about?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “It’s amazing, every radio station in America is playing a song written about anal sex and they don’t even realize what’s going on.” And I was like, well it’s not in-your-face anal sex, it’s just a joke. It just came about with the lyrics. It’s no big deal. But it’s a humorous thing and not meant to be offensive. And I think it was just an afterthought. It certainly wasn’t what inspired the song.


  11. 11
    MacGregor says:

    I do remember playing the PS album a lot to get into the songs so we knew them for the upcoming concerts. As time sailed past it sort of fell flat in places for me, not as strong as THOBL & the 4 to 5 songs I really like on TBRO either. PS isn’t a bad album at all, just not as strong as the other two, a decent enough effort for a return though. It got them back out on the road, playing new material & oldies & goodies, that was the main thing for me & other aficionados. Cheers.

  12. 12
    stoffer says:

    Neither A Bang, Nor A Whimper sums up this LP perfectly. The title track is a very good tune but KAYBD is ‘THE CUT’ from the album. It’s powerful keyboards and guitar are a perfect combo, clever lyrics (Gillan being Gillan) shouldn’t be taken too seriously lol! I remember the laser show during KAYBD on the ’85 tour and it still gets airplay on the ‘classic rock’ station in my area. The rest of the album has some moments as well, but that reunion tour… WOW!!

  13. 13
    Gregster says:

    Yes, all good comments & fair-enough. But let’s not forget that the band itself didn’t know whether they’d be welcomed back whole-heartedly, or simply written-off as Jurassic-rock having another crack-at-it.

    The band were writing & playing songs about the “Hungry Daze” that preceded them, & yet were clever enough to remain “Not Responsible” too.

    And with the advent of Digital Recordings & CD’s, each album had at least 50% or more music content than the 1970’s offerings of around 35-minutes each…So they’re almost like double-albums…

    Peace !

  14. 14
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I thought Purple’s return on the scene in 1984 was a pretty safe bet for at least some commercial reward. All five had also run out of alternatives:

    – Jon Lord, never a wealthy man because of the fruits from his solo career, was a hired hand with Whitesnake, had little musical input there and was quickly falling into disfavor with the band’s new MTV-friendly image. If you’re Jon Lord, I don’t think you want to hear from John Kalodner that you are not really vital for the band’s future success, but that you are allowed to hang on because of your British rock royalty credentials while DC, Sykes and Powell grab the limelight going forward.

    – Ian Paice, one of the world’s greatest rock drummers, was underselling his talent in Gary Moore, an extremely regulated musical venture that left Ian little freedom. He was beginning to drop from fame.

    – After the commercial failure of both Ian Gillan Band and GILLAN, big Ian was earning good money with Black Sabbath, yes, but it was clear that it was not meant to last and that Gillan really didn’t feel comfortable with following two established lead vocalists in a major band, namely Ozzy and Ronnie. He didn’t envisage himself singing Paranoid as an encore for the rest of his stage life.

    – Roger and Ritchie had taken Rainbow as far as they could, realization had crept in that they would never eclipse Deep Purple’s mid 70ies US success or become an AOR act with the commercial clout of Foreigner or Journey. Roger was a sideman in as he put it “Ritchie’s band” and it must have dawned on Ritchie that left to his own devices he could not recreate what was special about DP Mk II (never mind how he would push that realization aside again and again in coming years).

    At the same time, after the drought years of Punk and New Wave, NWOBHM in the UK and the resurgence of glammed up hard rock in L.A. had refertilized the soil for the comeback of a major heavy rock band from the 70ies. Crucially, Classic Rock – music dating back ten years or more – was beginning to become a major and reliable market in the US as the baby boomers came of age.

    As a record company executive, I would have had no doubts that a DP reunion would at the very least create a worthwhile/profitable major commercial splash. That said, it turned out to be even more successful and moreover showed greater longevity than could be anticipated in 1983/84.

  15. 15
    Rost says:

    Do not argue with anyone.
    For me it’s a best purple album of all time.

  16. 16
    Uwe Hornung says:

    And that’s fine, Rost, if Perfect Strangers had been the debut of a newcomer band in 1984 everybody would have been overawed. There is no reason to disown that album. If it had been crap and failed, I don’t think this site would today exist. It’s one of the most important albums in DP’s chequered career.

  17. 17
    Kidpurple says:

    Remember Perfect Strangers well- been a long time coming – man was I excited – My neighbors hated volume 10 – I couldn’t hit 11!
    It was good times !!!
    I think it was released on my birthday! Still love that album!

  18. 18
    Max says:

    A Gypsy’s Kiss? Filler? Good heavens … It is with grief that I have to disagree strongly – because I know you’re a man of great judgement, Uwe. KAYBD hit me like a freigfht train. I will never forget the first time I heard it… I was on a night shift as an ambulance man (Zivildienst to those who know) and stuck to the radio. It was braodcasted worldwide live. That intro … yeah that bumbing bass …the killer riff … I was hooked and am to this day. What a great song, even funny in the lyrics. Sadly the album did not climb from rung to rung from there biut I thought it was more than good enough. The title trackand A Gypsy’s Kiss being the other immortal tracks for me. And then to see them on stage together for the first time a few months after that night where luckyly no immergency call had ruined the momentum…

  19. 19
    MacGregor says:

    Uwe is NOT a fan of fast songs ala Gypsy’s Kiss, Spotlight Kid, Unchain Your Brain etc etc. I guess that would be the reason, but I could be wrong. Cheers.

  20. 20
    Uwe Hornung says:

    You’re damn right. Anything much faster than Highway Star, I never really liked. Burn is pretty much my absolute limit. And even with a band like Priest (just saw them on Sunday with Uriah Heep and Saxon opening, great gig!), I can just about tolerate the whiplash songs


    but my heart really lies with the stompers


    or the more complex stuff:


    Frankly, I lose the beat with that ultra-fast stuff, to semi-quote Chuck Berry

    “… I have no kick against modern jazz/metal)
    Unless they try to play/push it too darn fast/on the pedal)”

    (Accolades for my undeniable rhyming prowess on a postcard please!)

    I don’t like playing it on bass either (and am not very good at it). I liked “Fireball” (the track), but “Kill The King” for instance already did nothing for me. The tempo bewildered me.

    But since Max is always so good at making me feel bad,

    I herewith retract

    my statement of qualifying Gypsy’s Kiss as a filler and upgrade it to “good stuff” – with the qualification “even though it is a little fast for me”. I only re-listened to it a couple of days ago and it is better than I remembered it.


  21. 21
    Max says:

    Thank you for the inside information, Mr. MacGregor! In fact the songs you mention are ones that I come back to time and again. Additions can be made: Face the Truth, I got your Number (the GH one), Mean Business (no Hot Stuff though), Roller, Secret of the Dance, Dead or Alive, Twist in the Tale, A Light in the Black and of course the immortal Kill the King! I had a mix tape back in thje day, especially for cruising on the autonbahn with that big bad Opel of mine.

    So I go down in history as the man who made Uwe change his mind … at least once …and just a tad.

  22. 22
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I know that it is no longer en vogue


    on social networks but I do sometimes listen to people! 😎

  23. 23
    MacGregor says:

    @ 21- welcome to the clan Max. We have been chipping away at Uwe’s defences for a while now & lately I have noticed a few slip ups from him, so NOW is the time to act. He will never suspect anything. He is getting on a bit these days (well he is app a few weeks older than me, so to me he is an old fella). We must remain incognito.. Cheers.


  24. 24
    Uwe Hornung says:

    You children!

  25. 25
    Max says:

    A man true to his word. He listens indeed.

    (Hint Mr. MacGregor … we ain’t talking alone…)

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