Deep Purple – Now What?!

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Oh Now What?!

3.6/5.0

Seven years is a long time. In seven years I have aged exactly seven years, and so have the members of the 1970s hard rock band Deep Purple. Has this time made them wiser? Or has it made them fall even more out of sync with the rest of the world? Now What?! Is the answer to those important questions.

Deep Purple are famous for one song, it was their biggest hit and is one of the most recognisable songs ever to grace the rock world. Probably every single rock guitarist has blasted out the simple, but brilliant sound that Richie Blackmore oozed out of his guitar on that day, imagining themselves on a concert stage in front of a roaring crowd, but there is much more to Deep Purple than ‘Smoke on the Water’ gives off, they hold a career with raging highs of sound and treacherous lows of music.

Deep Purple are:

Don Airey – keyboards
Ian Gillan – vocals
Roger Glover – bass
Steve Morse – guitar
Ian Paice – drums

Now What?! Is the work of Deep Purple Mark VIII with Don Airey taking over for the now deceased Jon Lord. Filling the giant’s keyboard slot would be no easy task, but he manages to do so brilliantly. His keyboard station is capable of lifting the band to brilliant highs, well seen in the track ‘Uncomman Man’ with its Imperial grandeur and Roman style sound. The veteran keyboardist is a brilliant addition to the band.

Deep Purple were famous for their excellent guitar work and powerful vocals. Gillan and Blackmore, whilst hating each other more often than not, were a brilliant team, with Gillan seeking to out do Blackmore at every opportunity and vice-versa. Blackmore has gone and Morse is here now and he is every bit the guitar player Blackmore was, in certain aspect he’s even better. Morse never seeks to hog the music, but his guitar work is superb. Whether it is the dark and chugging guitar on the song ‘Vincent Price’ or the simple yet mighty guitar intro on ‘A Simple Song’, Morse always gives his best. But his reluctance to come out to the front does cause some issues. This album is lacking a little in flamboyant guitar solos, relying on the other members of the band to do the majority of the showing off. However, Airey takes this task with great ease, flooding the album with excellent keyboard work and terrific soloing.

Gillan is still here too, rocking out at the age of 67. His voice has lost most of that power that was so famous back in the 70s, so there are no ‘Child in Time’ type screams to be found on this record. But he does a decent enough job and he still has enough shunt in his lower range to pull off what is required on this album. But there are cases of poor songwriting on this album, and several parts of it fall into the dark eras of mediocrity and blandness.

In the end, Deep Purple have an album that will provide brilliant touring material for their next world tour. This album is on the good side of decent, with Morse and Airey being excellent showmen. Gillan more or less still has it  and Paice’s work behind the drum kit has the speed and power of a man half his age. Deep Purple sound fresher than they have any right to be, but that doesn’t make this album any greater than it is. Now What?! Shows us two things; firstly Deep Purple can’t match their 70s heyday, and secondly, they haven’t realised that yet, but are certainly not about to give up their attempts to do so.

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