Deep Purple: Rapture of the Deep (Eagle Records, 2005)
1. Money Talks 2. Girls Like That 3. Wrong Man 4. Rapture of the Deep 5. Clearly Quite Absurd 6. Don't Let Go 7. Back To Back 8. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye 9. MTV* 10. Junkyard Blues 11. Before Time Began
Hard to believe, but yes, it has been a mind-boggling thirty-five years plus since Deep Purple released the truly historic In Rock album, a pioneering, hard-edged opus that, along with the earliest offerings from Zeppelin, Sabbath and Uriah Heep, basically laid down the first real blueprint for heavy metal- the genre that gave this site both its name and its very reason for being. Moreover, in just a couple of short years, four whole decades will have passed since the band came into existence. Amazing, but true.
Surely it's time to hang it up, you might say. By now, after all, most bands would be wearing out their welcome even on the nostalgia circuit, but you'd be wrong to think this true of Deep Purple. Dropping excrement on the face of conventional wisdom from high above the mountains of mothballed rock has-beens, Rapture of the Deep, I dare say, boasts far more life, purpose, and especially creativity than the scores of trend-jumping posers clogging the charts and the airwaves, despite the over-emphasized age factor.
Mind you, don't go looking for mind-shattering new visions of unexplored musical possibilities to rival the novel, explosive impact of 'Speed King' (prudishly edited for American consumption in its time, by the way) in 1970. Instead, expect to hear the sounds of talented, veteran pros reinvigorated by virtuosic new blood (relatively new in the case of guitarist Steve Morse). Okay, there are a couple of ordinary tracks here, but for the most part, it's a vigorous workout of a musical force that still manages to churn out what I call classic rock--not contrived, dated, rehashed sounds for stubborn old fans, but timeless, inspiring music that refuses to bow to convention, trend, or the creativity-killing, niche-marketing habits of today's music industry.
Vocalist Ian Gillan makes his mark on this album as usual, but not for the reasons he did in the past. While the somewhat eccentric singer made his name unleashing some of the most harrowing screams heard in the days before Halford and King Diamond, he rarely leaves his upper mid-range comfort zone on this album. Instead, his defining contribution is definitely his lyrics, with insightful, scathing, but often simultaneously humorous musings on the environment ('Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye'), corporate dumbing down of popular music ('MTV') and life's everyday stress and chaos ('Back to Back'). So, Rapture makes at least as good a read as it does a listen.
The rest of the band, especially Morse and drummer Ian Paice (my idol during my years as an aspiring drummer), also make the contributions necessary to make this a cohesive and expertly delivered collection of fine songs. The recording, to my ears, is a bit on the scrappy and lo-fi side, but at the same time, it adds somewhat to the timeless, slightly aged (but again, not dated) feel of the album. All in all, a truly surprising act of defiance against advancing age, exhibiting a remarkably mature, yet riveting set of new possibilities for those who have been there, done that and bought the proverbial t-shirt. Can they keep it up? Only time will tell, but current signs bode well for the band. Members of Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and especially Guns 'n Roses, take note!
Rating: 8.6 (out of 10)
About this Writer: Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.
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