Review score: 77%
Review Date: November 2013
Reviewer: Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
Eight years. Heckova long time to wait for rock legends Deep Purple to honour us with a new studio album. It’s staggering to think that the band has been going for 40 years. Over that time they have evolved, matured, and still know how to entertain. Bob Ezrin produced this album, which is always a good sign. When my review copy turned up (technically it landed in my lap, much to my surprise and to the amusement of a grinning Tali who needs to work on her aim more) my thoughts quickly turned to Jon Lord. OK, it had been a decade since John left DP, but even so the flood of nostalgia and wistful memories that came flooding back made Now What!? feel ever so poignant.
So, on to the album. Is Now What!? any good? Well, I delayed writing this review because I found Now What!? to be a bit of a slow burner. It has grown on me after several listens over a month or so, and yeah, I do like it. Now What!? is dedicated to Jon Lord and the keyboard work is very prominent throughout the album.
A Simple Song
An auspicious if deceptively gentle start to the song to coax you into the latest Purple album. Soft, melodic and beautiful the songs lulls you along for a while before a swift change of pace as it bursts into a full blown rock out track.
Upbeat traditional Deep Purple keyboard slash guitar collision blending into a kaleidoscope of rocky eccentricity. It’s beautiful.
Out of Hand
Gillan proves he’s still got it. High pitched belting is rare these days, but this is unmistakably Ian’s unique vocal style still sounding great. Out of Hand could slip right into Gillan’s 80s albums such as Double Trouble or Magic. And yet the guitar / keyboard solo in the middle would not seem out of place on Perfect Strangers.
Hell to Pay
Ah, he we go with a faster number. Instantly catchy tracks are rare on Now What!?, but Hell to Pay pulls it off nicely. Somehow Gillan manages to remind me of Tom Petty. This is a singalong rock song in the classic Purple style.
A good chilled out Purple song with Paice / Glover / Morse laying down a funky beat and classic riff work over Don Airey’s excellent old school keyboard work. I am often impressed how well Airey is able to replicate the style of Jon Lord.
Above and Beyond
Now, what’s going on here? The repetitious keyboard intro sounds like a throwback to old prog bands such as Yes. And then the vocals kick in blended with gentle drumming and suddenly I get the old Jethro Tull vibe and I like it.
Blood from a Stone
And without warning I’m listening to Deep Purple but I’m hearing The Doors. At least my brain is picking out L.A. Woman vintage sounds as Airey plays like Ray Manzarek, Riders on the Storm style. The chorus is all Purple though. Takes a while to get into Blood from a Stone, but it is typical of the modern, high quality work Deep Purple have put together for this album – takes a few listens to appreciate it, but is worth the effort.
Remember Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s ‘Fanfare for The Common Man’? Just askin’. I love the gentle guitar solos leading into Uncommon Man, whilst Ian Paice’s hearbeat drumming starts slow and picks up the pace steadily. The chorus has a definite ELP feel to me.
Proggy intro takes half a minute to build up pressure and erupt into traditional Deep Purple teamwork. Speed up, slow down, lay down a gentle guitar solo blended with polished synth work and stir in Ian’s vocals and the occasional rocky riff.
All the Time in the World
Now I do like All the Time in the World. It’s soft styled Mark VIII Purple sound is just right. Again I’m having one or two musical flashes of Tom Petty for some reason. But All the Time in the World is the sort of thing to listen to when I want to chill out. It’s a shame we don’t get more bands making new music like this. Relax, don’t worry. The sound quality is fantastic – Bob Ezrin did a great job by the way.
Man I love this fun number. Memories of hammy 1970s horror movies come flooding back upon hearing the fun lyrics and whimsical tune. Vincent Price was a classic actor and the world isn’t quite the same without him. The Purple single hits the right balance of respect and pays tribute to Mr P in a good way.
It’ll be Me
This fun bonus track has a more rock n roll sound to finish you off on a happy note.
Recently nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Deep Purple have had an amazing career, and it is a tribute to the band members that they continue to perform for their fans after so many decades. Don’t expect raw energy and over-exertion when you listen to Now What!?. Expect an appealing blend of laid back, entertaining classic rock played expertly by highly skilled rock legends. Cos that is what Deep Purple have delivered here. The slow burning album is definitely one for the fans, and aimed at the older listener. To sum up the latest Deep Purple album in one word – ‘Quality!?’
Track List (may vary)
- A Simple Song
- Out of Hand
- Hell to Pay
- Body Line
- Above and Beyond
- Blood from a Stone
- Uncommon Man
- Apres Vous
- All the Time in the World
- Vincent Price
- It’ll be Me (bonus track)