Saturday, May 31, 2014

Alice In Chains

Call it what you want but I've never considered Alice In Chain grunge, to me it was more slowed down and a more sinister form of alternative rock or metal.  A more accessible Melvins per say?  Call it what you will but AIC was part of the Seattle music scene of the early 90s along with the tidal wave of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.  Part of the charm if AIC was the stinging guitar riffs of Jerry Cantrell and the painful yelps of Layne Staley, who like Kurt Cobain not long for this world.

Their albums varied for me.  The landmark Facelift I didn't care much for, but Dirt turned out of the be the one of the best albums ever, a shockingly candid and perhaps a concept album of drugs and Layne probably took them all.  Somehow this record made more sense to me when I heard it in Phoenix a few years from its release.  It's not a pretty album to listen to but it's everything Alice In Chains was and more. From the end all to begin with Dem Bones to the crash endings to Would? just about everything is this album is horrid but perfect.  Welcome to the jungle folks, it's not pretty but it was rock and roll 1992.

The S/T album was harder to take.  Toby Wright's cold and lifeless mix and the total time of the album sucked all the air out of the room but still with the final Over Now, it remains a good listen.  Despite the fact that Over Now really was over for Alice In Chains, they would eventually break up but not before issuing an MTV unplugged album and posthumous live album, somehow the acoustic album was better than the live record.

I'm surprised that Sony Music never bothered to issue both Sap and Jar Of Flies as a 2 on 1 CD (there have been imports that have done this but Sony Music like any major label loves to stiff the consumer and both EPs are still stand alone with the 6.98 price tag).  Sap has some good mellow numbers (Got Me Wrong) and Jar Of Flies despite being 30 minutes long is considered a EP. This record remains my go to when I want to hear AIC, with the Rotten Apple and Nutshell my favorite AIC songs. Of course it also has No Excuses and remains the only decent production that Toby Wright gave this band. Make no mistake, even with original producer Dave Jerden candy coating the muck and dirt of Facelift and Dirt, kinda like putting sugar on turpentine. The morning after the night before so to speak.

There are countless of best ofs and greatest hits of AIC that all have their moments, Greatest Hits is misleading, The Essential Alice In Chains covers most of the bases and Nothing Safe adds demos and live versions just to be different. For myself, I rather have the original albums, they make more sense than any best ofs although The Essential does have key tracks from various EPs in one package.

Although the band broke up, Layne Staley moving on to do plenty more drugs before O'Ding in 2002, Jerry Cantrell made two solo albums.  Boggy Depot was the best of the two, mostly retaining Sean Kinney and Mike Inez and having plenty of guest stars along the way.  And of course keeping Toby Wright on to muck things up recording wise.  Nonetheless Boggy Depot has some cool tracks (Dickeye, Cut You In) and basically the hype about this album is what would have happened had Staley added his vocals on this album. Then it would be a Alice In Chains album right?  Right?? Would have been fun to hear Layne scream KILL ME at the end of Leave The Light On.  Degradation Trip came out in 2002 and reviews were better than Boggy Depot.

In 2009, William DuVall  replaced Layne Staley as AIC vocalist, DuVall  who came from Comes With The Fall and toured with Cantrell on his 2002 solo tour.   While purists of the band have claim to shy away from the new edition AIC, it really sounded no different than when Layne was alive, Jerry Cantrell is the main songwriter and riff maker. While some people were offended by Black Gives Way To Blue, I found myself enjoying the record.  I thought it was more fun than the S/T album.  Check My Brain got some decent airplay.  Layne Staley may be missed but as a tribute album BGWTB is underrated.  However the less said the better for The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.  The 68 minute time of album and same sounding of songs goes on way too long.  Hollow is a good song, but Pretty Done the second song sums the whole thing up and you're stuck with an hour's worth of aimless guitars and droning vocals.  The wheels came off big time on this bloated effort.  Five years later Rainier Fog came out, a slight improvement, but the songs weren't memorable either.

With that said, Alice In Chains does have a place in rock history.  Their first four albums (Yes I count Jars Of Flies as a real album) are their legacy, the best ofs a decent sampler and the 2009 comeback album a tribute album.  I never count Jerry Cantrell out and whatever he decides to do next I'll be sure to hear.  But the big hole that Layne left after dying will never be filled, no matter how much William DuVall tries.  He doesn't have that ring side view of hell that Layne sang and sometimes wrote about.

Grades: (Both AIC and Jerry Cantrell)

Facelift (Columbia 1990) B-
Dirt (Columbia 1992) A
Sap EP (Columbia 1993) B
Jar Of Flies (Columbia 1994) A-
Alice In Chains (Columbia 1995) B+
MTV Unplugged (Columbia 1996) B+
Boggy Deport (Columbia 1998) B+
Degradation Trip (Roadrunner 2002) B+
Black Gives Way To Blue (Virgin 2009) B+
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Capitol 2013) C
Rainier Fog (BMG 2018) B-

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Criminally ignored on classic rock radio (and Deep Tracks for that matter) UFO has been around for over 40 years and led by Phil Mogg in various configurations and lineups.  The early UFO with Mick Bolton on guitar shows them to be very comical as if they were trying to do the same freaky deaky music that Hawkwind was doing, only Hawkwind did it 10 times better.  Fun fact is that did you know that the first UFO album came out on Motown?  The first one was on Rare Earth, Motown's rock imprint.  Outside of that, nothing to really hear here move on.  Fuel 2000 cherry picked the more tolerable and less annoying (plus a helping of bonus tracks from new guitarist Michael Schenker which gives it a better rating than it should) for An Introduction To UFO.  The future was looking much brighter.

After two albums and a forgotten live debacle, UFO moved over to Chrysalis Records and issued Phenomenon and with Schenker replacing Bolton, moved from bad space rock to a more convincing blues rock style although they're still feeling their way.  With a FM classics with Rock Bottom, Doctor Doctor and Oh My the future was bright.  Force It was better with Mother Mary, Shoot Shoot and Let It Rock becoming rock anthems.  Denny Peyonrel joined on keyboards on the next effort No Heavy Petting (misspelled as Heavy Petting on the CD version) and three albums in, UFO showed a more rocking attitude.

This was UFO's glory years and soon after their albums sold more and more. Peynorel (can't spell his name) was replaced by Savoy Brown's Paul Raymond.  I always had reservations about Lights Out, a step down from No Heavy Petting but it's a good record with the title track, Too Hot To Handle (to which a DJ at our high school dance played three times in one night) and the prog rock Love To Love standouts.  And for the first time, they had a decent producer in Ron Nevison who would stay on for the next album Obsession and the live Strangers In The Night.  Obsession was slightly better than Lights Out and Only You Can Rock Me and Cherry were the highlights.  Strangers In The Night is their live classic and Nevison's sound makes you part of the crowd.   Although the band was enjoying their found success, Mike Schenker decided to leave and was replaced by Paul Chapman   Chapman was no stranger to UFO, he performed live with them in 1974

UFO came back stronger than ever on No Place To Run (1980) produced by George Martin (The Beatles) Letting Go and a good remake of Mystery Train.  In looking back, the albums with Chapman on it may have been the most consistent work of UFO's career. The Wild, The Winning And The Innocent (1981), Mechanix (1982) and Making Contact (1983) all hard rocking affairs and even though members came and went (Neil Carter in for Raymonde on The Wild, Paul Gray (Eddie And The Hot Rods) replacing Pete Way on Making Contact) the sound never changed despite each record selling less and less.  The Best Of The Rest is a very good overview of the Chapman era to which he left after Making Contact and joining Pete Way in Waysted for one album. Chapman would later join Gator Country a band featuring Molly Hatchet ex members in the 2000s.

Once Chapman left, UFO went into a dark period making a couple of subpar hair metal albums.  Misdemeanor may have been a credible hair pop metal album but for a band like UFO it was their worst since the Mick Bolton years.  Tommy McClendon was more of a flashy whammy bar specialist guitarist but by then Phil Mogg was the last original UFO member on board although Paul Raymond did come back. With that album, UFO said goodbye to Chrysalis and went to do Ain't Misbeavin' an album of leftovers from Misdemeanor  but  the leftovers sounded better than the real thing.  Which isn't saying much.

Fast forward a few years later, the albums between Ain't Misbeavin and Walk On Water I have not heard nor intend to.  Walk On Water was a surprise since it had the return of Mike Schenker on guitar and the rest of the Lights Out era band.  It's is their best album in years with Self Made Man and Knock Knock my faves.  The lineup was short lived again, Andy Parker left and Aynsley Dunbar took over on drums.  Another move to another label (Mike Varney's Shrapnel Records where he would add his two cents worth) and two more decent records ensured before Schneker took his guitar and ran home one last time.

I guess the fourth era of UFO begins with Vinnie Moore taking over. This reminds me of when Steve Morse took over for Richie Blackmore in Deep Purple, nothing much was to be expected but Morse has been a 20 part of Deep Purple whereas Moore has been holding down the UFO axe job for 10 years.  You Are Here is interesting for Jason Bonham playing drums but by the time The Monkey Puzzle came out, Andy Parker came back to provide the beats.  While this era has some highlights the big problem was that Mogg was losing his vocal range, not as bad as Bob Dylan mind you but very noticeable.  It's also strange to note that Jason Bonham, not much of a vocalist himself provided backing vocals to some of the music off You Are Here. For the most part it just seems as the Moore era UFO, it feels like that they're riding on past glories.

But before that, with a few missteps (Misdemeanor)  UFO managed to have one of the best outputs in classic rock, moreso of their 70s and 80s albums and even Walk On Water.  The Essential UFO and Best Of The Rest  are nice anthologies and highlights.  Buyer beware on the Vinnie Moore years. Conspiracy Of The Stars is the latest and take it for what's it worth. UFO 10 years after Vinnie Moore joined up and he holds his own but he could use the Phil Moog vocals of the 70s rather than 40 years later and too much wear and tear on the vocals.  Hot N Live is Rhino's plunging into the archives for two discs of the Michael Schneker and Paul Chapman years.  Not exactly essential unless you want to hear Chapman's 80s periods and a forgotten Danny Peyonel on keyboards on a late 75 early 76 tour.  And  Neil Carter comes on to replace Paul Raymond in 1982 and former Eddie And The Hot Rods bassist Paul Gray relives Way on the last 3 numbers (from 1983). Hugh Gilmour's liner notes are as dumb and half assed as they come. (He even misspells Kenosha Wisconsin on the notes).  A nice counterpart to Strangers In The Night for those with an extra 30 dollars burning in their pocket.  For the rest, we'll take the memories.

UFO (Rare Earth 1970) C-
UFO 2 aka Flying (Rare Earth 1971) C-
An Introduction To UFO (Fuel 2006) C
Phenomenon (Chrysalis 1973) B+
Force It (Chrysalis 1975) A-
No Heavy Petting (Chrysalis 1976) B+
Lights Out (Chrysalis 1977) B-
Obsession (Chrysalis 1978) B
Strangers In The Night (Chrysalis 1978) A-
No Place To Run (Chrysalis 1980) A-
The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent (Chrysalis 1981) B+
Mechanix (Chrysalis 1982) A-
Making Contact (Chrysalis 1983) B+
Misdemeanor (Chrysalis 1985) C
Best Of The Rest (Chrysalis 1989) A-
Ain't Misbeavin' (Metal Blade/Enigma 1988) C+
Walk On Water (CMC International 1995) A-
Essential UFO (Chrysalis 1996) B+ 
Covenant (Shrapnel 2000) B+
Sharks (Shrapnel  2002) B
You Are Here (SPV 2004) B-
The Monkey Puzzle (SPV 2006) C+
The Visitor (SPV 2009) C
Seven Deadly Sins (SPV 2012) C
Hot N Live-The Chrysalis Live Anthology 1974-1983 (Chrysalis/Rhino 2013) B
A Conspiracy Of Stars (Steamhammer 2015) NR 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Johnny Cash-Out Among The Stars

Let's face it, country music isn't what it used to be, now that Bro Country and the odious crap that KHAK plays most of the time irradiates the hell out of me and it's not getting any better. Jarrod Niemann, who started out full of promise a few years ago is now going to the lowest common denominator by enlisting Pitbull on his latest bro country attempt to fit in.  But did you notice that one week last month that Johnny Cash's latest hit number 1 through all the bile that's on the chart?  A small victory considering that the Man in Black has been dead for 10 and half years.

Johnny's 80s tenure at Columbia was his worst selling time, but not that the albums were bad.  They were actually fairly good although Johnny 99 (1983) turned out to be such a disappointment that Columbia sat on the next effort which was called Out Among The Stars and was all but forgotten when Johnny's son came across it by accident.

The album itself stands way out in front of the crowd despite it's 30 years in the vaults and is a classic compared to Luke Bryan and his Bro Country compares.  But had it been released in 1984 it would have been merely a fairly good album from Cash.  The major change was that Billy Sherrill, staff producer to the CBS roster took over for Brian Ahern and Billy uses his usual Nashville type production throughout the recording.  Some cheese is heard, the kiddie choir that ends Tennessee, the second duet with June Carter Cash on Don't You Think It's Come Our Time which may have been the closest thing they recorded a Hall mark card like song but thankfully Sherrill didn't dump the album in syrupy strings which he's been known to do with George Jones.  Sherrill doesn't do Cash any favors with some of the Nashville sessionmen used; Kenny Malone crashing his cymbals way too many times on songs that didn't need a cymbal crash  (this isn't the Ramones for fuck's sake)  but then again it doesn't hurt to have Marty Stuart play on this either.

Nevertheless, Johnny Cash delivers his usual top notch vocal work, even return to the story song telling he's famous for, If I Told You Who It Was, featuring Minnie Pearl, who's vocal seems to be buried more into the mix than usual but otherwise that's nitpicking.  The favorites remain the title track, a very tongue in cheek I Drove Her Out Of My Mind which deals with a new Cadillac and the last date with his woman over the mountain, which may have been too black of a humor back in 84 but in this day and age it'd still kick the shit out of anything Brantley Gilbert would come up.  And Baby Ride Easy originally done by Carlene Carter and Dave Edmunds, Johnny and June do a nice version of their own.  However, the Elvis Costello produced bonus track of She Used To Love Me A Lot is pointless. It's really not needed here.

Overall, Out Among The Stars isn't a classic but rather a up to date in the times (in 1984 mind you) and Johnny is in fine form here despite the cymbal happy drummer and dated 80's production.  The version of I'm Moving On with Waylon Jennings would lead them to record Johnny's last Columbia album, the uneven Heroes with Jennings.  Even from the grave, Cash remains a force to be reckon with. Take notes Luke Bryan.

Grade B+

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Deep Purple-The Reunion and Steve Morse years

In 1984 the unthinkable happened.  The Gillan/Glover era DP reunited despite odds of it succeeding.  Not that the other guys were doing nothing, Ian Gillan was in Black Sabbath of all bands screaming out to Born Again, Ian Paice was playing in Gary Moore's band (after a few years with Whitesnake), Jon Lord was finishing up Slide It In, Whitesnake's big album and Richie Blackmore just ended Rainbow to which Roger Glover was playing bass.  Nobody saw this coming.

For the next ten years, it would be an up and down affair with Deep Purple dropping Perfect Strangers, an album that picked up where Who Do We Think We Are left off but this time the songs were better constructed, rather than the labored feel of WDWTWA. The title track and Knocking At Your Back Door were FM hits but for myself the record feels more of a Rainbow sound rather than Purple.  But it's Deep Purple from the patented Gillan screams and dry wit to counter Blackmore's seriousness.  While House Of Blue Light was panned by critics, I thought it was better.  It had more songs and led off with Bad Attitude and the percussion led Call Of The Wild, which echoed Chasing Shadows of 20 years ago.  It might been their classic had they left a few bloated numbers off but with Hard Loving Woman I forgive them.  Nobody's Perfect was Deep Purple obligatory live album and really we don't need another Child In Time although Gillan takes a crack at a remake of Hush.  Probably the only time Rod Evans had the better version.  And with that, the egos got in the way and Ian Gillan left once again.

Joe Lynn Turner, ever so much the faithful vocalist from Rainbow comes in on Slaves And Masters.  The band moved from Mercury to RCA and end result may have been the worst Deep Purple album in their catalog, to which they became Foreigner light. There was talk that Jimi Jamierson from Survivor would be the vocalist but Turner was chosen due to contractual issues.  No matter, the album didn't sound like Purple the way we remembered them but rather Rainbow.  That is if you could stay awake to it.  Nevertheless Deep Purple soldered on with Turner but management (and the band) wanted Gillan back in the fold.  And he would return much to Blackmore's chagrin and dismay.  The Battle Rages On is perhaps their best album since Machine Head since it returns to a more rocking sound abandoned on Slaves And Masters and no matter what Blackmore thought of his lead singer, he did managed to put together some of his finest riffs on songs like Anya or Time To Kill. The record feels more like a band effort.  But after this and a tour Blackmore had enough and quit for a final time to be replaced by Joe Satriani.

Instead of breaking up Deep Purple did the unthinkable and went on without Blackmore by replacing him with Steve Morse (Kansas, Dixie Dregs).  This was not the first time Richie was replaced, the ill fated Tommy Bolin came on board for Come Taste The Band.  Steve Morse is lot like Bolin, a very talented guitar player in his own right, Morse has won many awards for best guitarist and so he was probably up to task to replace the enigma that is Richie Blackmore.  And Purpendicular was a worthy successor to Battle Rages On, beginning with Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic.   The album starts out strong, the band rejuvenated as if the dark clouds of Richie were fading away and the band actually sounds like they're having fun.  Deep Purple also showed more a softer side with The Aviator, that perhaps they could tone it down a bit.  Still Gillan can't help but scream a few times (although time and age revealed he can't hit the high notes like he once did) but the straight ahead drive of the bonus track of Don't Hold Your Breath shows Deep Purple can boogie with the best of them.  A good record but it became the first Deep Purple record that didn't make it into the Billboard top 200.

The Morse era Deep Purple (which continues to this day) also shows the emergence of Ian Gillan as lead singer and main songwriter and he had plenty of puns to use for titles, 1998  Abandon (a pun on A band on) was heavier than Purpendicular, the songs not much so in remembering them. Any Fuel Kno That (another of Gillan's puns via song) and Don't Make Me Happy which sounds a bit prog rock ish.  It's good but not great Deep Purple.  With that album Jon Lord exits from the band.

With the exit of Jon Lord, Ian Paice becomes the sole original and remaining Deep Purple member, Don Airey replaces Lord for Bananas.  After co producing themselves for many years (with Roger Glover) Mike Bradford becomes the first outside producer for Deep Purple in years.  The production is kinda weak but the songs themselves aren't bad and are a step up from Abandon. And Don Airey doesn't tarnish the Jon Lord keyboard playing at all, he does a fine job being the new guy.   And probably more of his album rather than Steve or Ian for that matter.

After the demise of Sanctuary Records, Deep Purple moved over to Edel/Eagle Rock and made Rapture Of The Deep, an album that begins to show their prog rock side since the early days and reviews of this record was more positive.  It even cracked the US charts (At number 43 on the independent record chart). Steve Morse started adding more guitar to the mix, including Before Time Begin which is more fusion than rock.  Gillan still writes sarcastic and funny songs like MTV and Money Talks. Even back then Ian Gillan knew a thing or two about classic rock radio and the comparison of competing with Smoke On The Water and clueless DJs.

Which leads us to the present and Deep Purple continues on.  2013's Now What?! 20 years removed from Richie Blackmore, Steve Morse has come into his own.  Not that he ever did, in the contrary this is the guy that gave us The Dixie Dregs and The Steve Morse Band so he knows how to play guitar.  With Bananas onward to Now What?! we have seen that Deep Purple could survive without Richie and with a catalog going back 40 years, there's no shortage of what to play although Child In Time may have been retired.  Now What?! continues a more progressive rock sound and they got a big time producer in Bob Ezrin who helped shaped that record as well. But the record, like the previous two shows that both Don Airey and Steve Morse do help a lot in the way the songs turned out. It's not super classic Deep Purple but if you have been along for the ride all these years and can overlook the fact that Richie is gone, these records are still a worthy listen.

Like Rapture Of The Deep, Eagle Records can't help but put on another bonus live CD of past hits and Vincent Price, their minor charting single.  There are countless Deep Purple live albums out there and all have their moments.  Basically there's not enough space on this blog to cover them all.

It's hard to believe the band has been around all these years. And Gillan can sing Smoke On The Water or Highway Star in his sleep.  They should be included in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame since they did influenced a few bands that did make it in there, Lars Ullrich be dammed but he's right. They should be there. All the lineup always managed to have great players replacing the great people (Jon Lord died in 2012 sad to say).  But in the end, Ian Gillan has always seem to me to be the lead vocalist of this band, although Rod Evans and David Coverdale/Glenn Hughes will have their supporters.   Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had Ian Gillan or Roger Glover decided to stick with Episode Six, or had Rod Evans managed to keep the faux paus Purple going in the 80s.  Things would be different for sure.

But in the end, Deep Purple has managed to defy the odds and last 40 years into the present.  That's saying something.

Perfect Strangers (Mercury 1984) B+
House Of Blue Light (Mercury 1987) B+
Nobody's Perfect (Mercury 1988) C+
Slaves And Masters (RCA 1990) C
The Battle Rages On (Giant 1993) B+
Purpendicular (CMC International 1996) A-
Abandon (CMC 1998) B
Bananas (Sanctuary 2002) B+
Rapture Of The Deep (Eagle 2005) B+
Now What?! (Eagle 2013) B+
Infinite (Ear Music 2017) B+
Whoosh (Ear Music/Edel 2020) B+

Update 2020:  The Gillan/Morse/Airey/Glover/Paice lineup continued to record with Bob Ezrin and came up with Infinite, a album that borderlines on prog rock.  Gillan's sense of humor remains evident especially on the tongue in cheek Johnny's Band which might be taking yet another poke at Richie Blackmore.  Some people say that we don't need another Roadhouse Blues cover but I like it fine myself.  However this lineup has been the longest lasting Deep Purple lineup, Steve Morse has fit in quite well and unlike his tenure in Kansas has done very well living up (and beyond) to the legend of Blackmore.  Despite the odds, Deep Purple has defined the naysayers saying they wouldn't last long after Blackmore's acrimonious exit in 1994.  And continued to make good albums. 

Whoosh is a return back to rock after the Prog Rock overtunes of Infinite, only 2 songs go over five minutes but we have 13 songs including two instrumentals and a bonus track.  and the address is a revisit of their first song off Shades Of Deep Purple.  Not sure if this was a final song or a thumb at the nose at Richie Blackmore, Steve Morse does a fine job on lead.   With Deep Purple now five decades old, this lineup of Don Airey/Steve Morse/Ian Gillan/Ian Paice/Roger Glover has been the longest lasting for almost 20 years.  Whoosh is their third with Bob Ezrin, and all three have been the best they have offered since Purpendicular.  It boggles the mind that Morse has outlasted Blackmore in being in the band and Gillan says that Blackmore is not missed.  Gillan is no longer the screamer of the classic years but his vocals are still witty as ever. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Deep Purple Part 2-The Screamer Years

While at that time, Rod Evans may have been the weakest link in Deep Purple as they were searching for a sound of their own and they tried many things on their first three albums, from hippy dippy pop to progressive rock.  They flirted with hard rock at times but Richie Blackmore thought that Evans was more suited for ballads than the screaming rock that he longed to make.  And he wanted Nick Simpler out as well. So while the original vocalist and bass player were mouthing off to prerecorded songs on the music shows at that time, Blackmore went out looking.  And found the perfect vocalist in one Ian Gillan.  Funny thing about that is the band he sang in Episode Six were even more pop sounding.

Episode Six made some collected singles via Warner Brothers and Elektra although if any albums were made they were imports only.  Collectibles Records licensed from Castle Records The Complete Episode Six and by all means it's all over the place, from tongue in cheek Beach Boy parodies (Mighty Morris Ten) to something that would fit on a Moody Blues album (Love Hate Revenge) and even featured a female singer at times (Sheila Carter). Gillan was the lead singer and most of the time didn't register much screaming till later songs (Mr. Universe) to which you can then hear traces of his trademark wailing. The main songwriter in the band was Roger Glover, who happened to be the bass player.  Listening to the best of it's easy to see why Gillan was plucked from this band, he was a much better vocalist than Evans. The Best Of Episode Six isn't rock and roll, in fact what Deep Purple MK 1 was doing was heavier than EP 6.  But the Gillan/Glover version would really changed the sound from here on out.

The final Tetragrammon single was the first to feature Gillan (Hallelujah) and I didn't think much of it myself and the first DP album after Evans was the Concerto For Group And Orchestra and it's worth a listen. By then Warner Brothers in the US picked them up and the  first full album Deep Purple In Rock was a complete 360 despite the meddling label chopping off the Jon Lord intro into Speed King and leaving the single Black Night off.  In Rock, the prog rock and the pop rock was left off and the band turn their amps up to 10 and went all out. Gillan wisecracked, sang, screamed and laughed his way through Speed King and early heavy metal rocker Bloodsucker before giving us the 11 minute epic Child In Time which may or may not be the best song ever.  This is where we all got to know the vocal range of Gillan up till the blood curdling screams for the coda.   Certainly the world had never heard such a thing before and would be a major part of Deep Purple's concerts before time and age pretty much leveled Gillan's screams more into a yelp.  Side 2 has lesser moments (Flight Of The Rat, Hard Lovin Man) but nevertheless Deep Purple In Rock is considered one of the first three truly album with the heavy metal tag, (the other two is Uriah Heep's S/T and of course Black Sabbath).  With this album Rod Evans becomes a footnote.

For a band that was recording for EMI, the albums are always sounded very boxy and poorly recorded despite having Martin Birch as the main recorder. With Derek Lawrence now gone (the band never had a good opinion of him) the band self produced themselves and Warner Brothers, the US label, left them alone to their own devices.  Fireball, the followup continued in the same way In Rock did and it was another classic, the metal thrash of the title track, the boogie blues of Strange Kind Of Woman, the country twanged Anyone's Daughter, the meandering Fools and the straight ahead rock of No One Came (which might have some of the funniest lines Ian Gillan ever wrote). Deep Purple was actually challenging Led Zeppelin in terms of heaviness.  They would actually get better.

Machine Head, best known for the chords of Smoke On The Water, a song anybody can play broke them big.  That song, based on a true story from Gillan about the infamous concert with the Mothers Of Invention and with "some stupid with a flare gun burn the place to the ground" was a FM classic back then (overplayed classic rock song now) but the perfect introduction was Highway Star to which the band jamming away has the trademark Gillan screams at the beginning and is a stoner rock classic.  But for myself the record is damn near perfect, the band never sounded better together, Martin Birch finally recorded the band just right and all the songs are winners.  No fewer than 4 of these songs would be used for the next live document and you could consider Space Truckin here to be a short version compared to the 20 minute one that would take up all of side four on Made In Japan.

Made In Japan came out in 1973 and is regarded as their most best loved  classics.  I had this on 8 track and it was mixed to the point that the bass from the other channels would leaked into the channel I was listening to.  40 years after the fact it still shines fairly well but it also can be argued that it is their most pompous as well, with long long guitar solos, organ solos, drum solos and Gillan baiting up the Japanese crowd at the beginning of Lazy and providing counter point to Blackmore's solo on Strange Kind Of Woman.  You had to be there to hear it yourself and it's not a perfect live album, Gillan misses a few lines of Highway Star, Ian Paice excellent drummer gives the listener a pee break on the 11 minute drum solo on The Mule and the extensions of the songs tend to tire out as well.  All coming together on the 20 minute Space Truckin to which elements of Mandrake Root and Fools are thrown in and a free form freak out as well.  To which it all crashes down, leaving the audience wondering if they should clap or wait for more.  To which it finally ends.  For 9 songs totaling 2 and a half hours (Lucille and Black Night were later added on as bonus cuts as a bonus CD, the CD itself was 79 minutes)  Made In Japan is a classic but uneven affair due to monotonous long songs.  But it was the sign of the times back in the 70s, when 10 plus minute jamming songs were the norm and you had to be there.  But if you want more of this, all three Japan shows are now available on CD and LP.

You think with the fame and fortune and even having the loudest concert ever recorded back then. They would be happy but Richie Blackmore being the ego behind the band wasn't getting along with his new found vocalist and they begin to clash and clash more often.  But before that they put out yet another album of worthiness Who Do We Think We Are with a minor hit Woman From Tokyo.  Gillan was sarcastic as ever on Mary Long, Rat Bat Blue and Place In Line which continue the same formula that was featured on the other albums but the winning had to end.  Oh, this record is still good, it's enjoyable but the songs had a rushed out feeling.  With that Ian Gillan bowed out of the band, citing fatigue and needed time away from it all.  He may have been right, Deep Purple recorded 5 albums between 1970 and 1973. Roger Glover would soon depart  as well.

Blackmore continued Deep Purple by adding two new faces to the team.  One was Glenn Hughes from Trapeze on bass and higher octave vocals and a unknown David Coverdale a much more whiskey voiced singer.  Basically Burn should have not been as great when it came out but it beat people's expectations and it was better than Who Do We Think We Are, leading off with the searing Burn and minor single Might Just Take Your Life.  Lay Down Stay Down and Sail Away end the record nice and You Fool No One  leads off side 2 at full tilt. Mistreated would be a big part of Deep Purple's Mark 2 songs and later for both Blackmore's Rainbow and Coverdale's Whitesnake.   Alas, Stormbringer, despite the great title track, the album was fairly boring.  It's more of a soul blues record than rock although there's some attempts at that with Lady Double Dealer and The Gypsy.  But most of it was forgettable and Blackmore took his guitar and ego out of the band after that to form Rainbow.  Meanwhile, Deep Purple recruited the great Tommy Bolin to replace Blackmore and they rebounded a bit with Come Taste The Band.  Bolin, overdosed in 1976 and Deep Purple called it a day.  Warner Brothers threw out Made In Europe a so so collection of the Burn tour. And then issued the half assed When We Rock We Rock best of and later Deepest Purple a much better overview of the Gillan/Coverdale years but leaves Rod Evans and Tommy Bolin out in the cold.

With that Deep Purple members drifted into other projects. Roger Glover went into production (Nazareth, Rainbow) Ian Gillan went on a to a decent solo career, Richie Blackmore formed up Rainbow (later picking Glover back up), David Coverdale started a new band called Whitesnake, Jon Lord and later Ian Paice would join up for a few albums).  However in late 1979 a snake in a grass manager would lead Rod Evans back into a faux paus Deep Purple band that would not sit well with the other members and after an ill fated 1980 tour, sued Evans and put a stop to that.  But four years later, the Mark 2 lineup would reunite with Perfect Strangers and a new chapter would begin.


Concerto For Group And Orchestra (WB 1969) C
Deep Purple In Rock (WB 1970) B+
Fire Ball (WB 1971) A-
Machine Head (WB 1972) A
Who Do We Think We Are! (WB 1973) B
Made In Japan (WB 1973) B
Burn (WB 1974) A-
Stormbringer (WB 1974) B-
Come Taste The Band (WB 1976) B
Made In Europe (WB 1977) C+
When We Rock We Rock....(WB 1978) C+
Deepest Purple (WB 1980) B+

Whitesnake albums (featuring both Jon Lord and Ian Paice)

Ready N Willing (Mirage 1980) B+
Live...In The Heart Of The City (Mirage 1981) B-
Come And Get It (Geffen 1981) B-
Saints And Sinners (Geffen 1982) B+