Purple was a band in trouble in the mid ‘90s according to vocalist Ian Gillan. He says that after brilliant but temperamental guitarist Ritchie Blackmore left the band, the atmosphere was different. Gillan, along with bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice, recruited former Dixie Dregs guitarist Steve Morse, following a rescue tour fill-in by Joe Satriani, giving the band not only stability but also a confidence that had been missing.
Shortly after, keyboardist Jon Lord decided to hang up his Hammond organ. The band then enlisted veteran Don Airey and haven’t looked back since. Their first few records were good but spotty and Gillan admits that they were still trying to get their legs back under them. With Rapture of the Deep
, I think they've found their legs because in my opinion, this is their best record in decades.
Purple fans can rejoice as Eagle Records has released Rapture...
as a special edition, double-disc featuring 8 additional songs. The first disc is the original disc released late last year. “Money Talks” starts things off and it’s very much in the Purple sound, with familiar Gillan-isms. With this song, it’s clear the band is back in fine form. “Girl’s Like That” and “Wrong Man” are both bursting with energy and Gillan sounds like he’s having fun with both.
The title track is a masterpiece and on my favorite all-time Purple songs. The song begins with an Eastern keyboard riff by Airey and is highlighted by an absolutely awesome chorus. A close second is the beautiful “Clearly Quite Absurd” which showcases the gorgeous quality of Gillan’s timeless voice. “MTV” is one of those tongue-in-cheek songs that the band does so well with Gillan taking aim at media that dismisses the band as Classic Rockers and nothing more. The rest of the songs are all excellent with both Airey and Morse shining on their respective solos.
The second disc contains live cuts as well as new versions of other songs, as well as a couple of unreleased ones (here in North America). The first cut is a remix of “Clearly Quite Absurd” which is just as beautiful as the original. “Things I Never Said” is a track that was only released for the Japanese market. It’s a high-energy rocker that fits in the Purple stable nicely. Morse and Airey get to showcase their chops with the dynamic instrumental “The Well-Dressed Guitar”. The boys lock into a groove that is fun to ride, careful to sidestep boring “look-at-me” runs that other bands incorporate.
The live cuts are just as engaging. They toss off solid versions of “Rapture of the Deep” and “Wrong Man” before slamming into one of the staples of their live set, “Highway Star” followed by the anthem “Smoke on the Water”. Ending the record is an inspired rendering of my favorite Purple songs “Perfect Strangers”.
With their profile clearly enjoying a well-deserved rise in popularity over the last few years, let’s hope this enthusiasm carries over into more records like Rapture of the Deep
. Because for Purple fans like myself….this is awesome!!!!