Fire Note Says: Now What?! is an album that sounds every bit as classic as the band who recorded it.
Album Review: One of the original titans of British Hard Rock from the 70s, Deep Purple, is back with a new album, and it is well worth hearing! Deep Purple should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a multitude of reasons, with the biggest reason being “Smoke on the Water”. Everyone knows that song, everyone can play it on guitar, but they WROTE it, and for that alone, they should be in…but they aren’t. But it doesn’t stop there, the whole Machine Head album is flawless from top to bottom, ranking up there with albums from Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but that’s not enough apparently. Nor is releasing one of the genre defining live albums from the era in Made in Japan, or the equally classic In Rock or Fireball lps, which along with Machine Head, helped to define Hard Rock in the 70’s. But there’s more, after lead singer Ian Gillan quit the band, and bassist Roger Glover was fired, Deep Purple hired David Coverdale and Glen Hughes and released the stellar Burn lp and the almost as good Come Taste The Band lp. That is six classic albums right there, and there are more albums in their catalog that are very good as well, if not quite up to the classic level. This is a legendary band that for whatever reason, hasn’t been given the props they are due. With their new album, Now What?! , Deep Purple is once again kicking in the doors of the Hall and has released an album that few, if any, of the bands that are already enshrined would be able to release. It’s not a perfect album, there are admittedly a few duds, but 75% to 80% of the time, they are right up there with some of the finest music of their career.
“A Simple Song” doesn’t burst out of the gates like a normal Deep Purple album opener. Instead it starts slow, building on a lovely guitar line from Steve Morse (who joined the band in 1994 replacing the legendary Ritchie Blackmore), when Ian Gillan’s voice comes in, it’s obvious this is a classic Deep Purple track. About two minutes in, all hell breaks loose! The keyboards clearly recall the legendary ex DP keyboardist Jon Lord, only it’s not Lord, it is his replacement, Don Airey, who has been with the band since Lord retired in 2002. This song recalls the 70’s heyday of the band, as well as the mid 80’s reunion album Perfect Strangers, which was actually my introduction to the band as a Junior High schooler. “Weirdestan” continues the classic sound and features a soaring Morse solo and a great Gillan vocal. Lone original member Ian Paice really shines on drums on this one as well. He locks into a classic groove and the rest of the band follows right along. “Hell To Pay” nearly drags the momentum of the album to a grinding halt. It is the only real embarrassment here, the “gang” back up vocals are horrid. “Bodyline” is a bit better, but overall it is another dud. The band sounds pretty good, but the lyrics and chorus are pretty weak. Those are the two outright duds on the album, and it doesn’t help matters that they are back to back. Once you get through those 10 minutes, it’s straight up quality rock for the rest of the way. Gillan in particular shines on his vocal on “Above and Beyond”.
Longtime fans shouldn’t be surprised by how good this album is, after all, Bananas (2003), was another excellent album, so it’s not like this came from nowhere. It’s just that most people quite listening in the late 80’s and early 90’s when the band put out some really bad records. This version of the band has been tearing it up since 1996’s Purpendicular, albeit for a much smaller audience than during their peak. It is time that music fans tune back in. Deep Purple is still bringing the rock, and Now What?! is a worthy addition to their legendary discography.
Key Tracks: “A Simple Song”, “Blood From a Stone”, “Weirdestan”
Artists With Similar Fire: Led Zeppelin / Black Sabbath / UFO
Deep Purple Website
Deep Purple Facebook
Eagle Rock Entertainment
-Reviewed by Kevin Poindexter