Album review: Deep Purple, Perfect Strangers (1984)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 14, 1984

By Steve Newton

Some things are too good to be true, and for lovers of hard rock, the resurrection of Deep Purple is one of them. The original lineup–guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice, keyboardist Jon Lord, and singer Ian Gillan–is back with a vengeance, producing more of the heavy sounds that made them heroes to millions of teenagers in the early ’70s.

Their new reunion album, the digitally recorded Perfect Strangers, opens with the LP’s best tune, a seven-minute rave-up titled “Knocking at Your Back Door”. The song starts off with the same sort of effect that was used in the movie Jaws to build suspense when the Great White was about to have a snack. Then Glover’s one-note bass comes in, followed by Paice’s pounding drum, and finally Blackmore’s slashing chords. Remember how Purple used to add guitar, cymbal, drum and then bass on “Smoke on the Water”? Well, they’ve sort of reversed the process here, but the result is just as cool. Simple but effective, and especially appealing to those who like their rock uncomplicated and to the point.

Vocalist Gillan sounds just as strong as he did ten years ago, which is a bit surprising since he spent the last couple of years screaming for Black Sabbath. I expect he can still sing “Lazy” and “Space Truckin'” with the same controlled fury he used to, and that’s good to hear, seeing that the band have a huge world tour planned (and a good possibility of playing Vancouver).

And what can you say about Ritchie Blackmore? The founder and driving force of Deep Purple just keeps getting better and better, and his emotional guitarwork is one of a kind. His spirited playing on the album’s only soft song, “Wasted Sunsets”, tells it all, and destroys the silly notion that there’s no real talent in hard rock.

The majority of tunes on Perfect Strangers are fast-paced rockers in the best Purple tradition–“Under the Gun”, “Nobody’s Home”, “A Gypsy’s Kiss”. It’s too bad that the album’s weakest cut–the plodding and uninspired title track–was chosen as the first single. But if any of the other songs get to see the light of radio, this record should be a big hit. My turntable sure seems to like it.

 

 

 

 

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