The making of Bananas - News
After all the speculation, the interminable wait for the band to actually start recording, and the initial disbelief over the title, "Bananas" finally hit the stores in late August 2003. "How easily the name slips off the tongue now," Roger said recently and he's right. Is it any more strange than "Come Taste The Band"? Hardly. What matters is the music within.
After much debate, Jon Lord didn't guest on the record as had at first been suggested he might (and which he'd indicated that he was willing to do if asked). Probably a wise move, it allows Don Airey to make his mark on the proceedings without any distractions. After all, Blackmore wasn't sneaked in to play on a couple of "Purpendicular" songs and - though it seemed harsh to some fans - the band were wise to stick to their guns.
Deep Purple are at a difficult point in the reunion. They need to shift some units otherwise the only way they can continue is by touring - and the feeling (at least within the fan-club membership) is that they've -already toured the "Made In Japan" set once too often. Just what sort of future awaited them if this one stiffed was hard to imagine. However, chart placings in most of Europe have been excellent. Album (and tour) reviews follow, but first we need to get up to date, having last issue covered the recording sessions and production work.
One unexpected bonus of bringing in Michael Bradford is that he's been much more accessible, talking about the project in interviews and via his own
According to Bradford, Jon Lord bequeathed his B3 (originally used for years by Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac) to the band to ensure its sound legacy continued.
So anyone hoping he might auction it off for charity (as he has some of his gear in the past - I recall a minimoog going for a song on the Friday Rock Show radio auction years ago) will be disappointed! With the album largely out of the way, the band surprised us by getting some shows together to predate the launch. What's more they decided to largely ignore the new album, indeed their last few albums, and recycle the old hits once more. This European Tour ran through June 2003..
Deep Purple held the European press launch in Berlin on August 20th to tie in with the concert there that evening.
The band played at the Columbiahalle and previewed some of the new material for the first time on stage. People attending were given photo opps during the gig and at the press do, and the day afterwards press were able to do in person
interviews and Phoners (industry jargon for telephone interviews). Tickets for the live set were available to fans, with doors open at 8 pm and the show scheduled to begin at 9pm. AOL were due to webcast the show the following day, August 21, although this was shunted back to September 1st. There were a total of around 1200 people there, including a lot of journalists. Although it was an album launch gig, Purple did a chunk of older tracks as well. The new tracks were "House Of Pain", "Silver Tongue", "Bananas" and "Contact Lost", along with two tracks previewed before, namely "I've Got Your Number" and "Haunted". Reviewers reckon the three new titles were a tad wobbly but this was their first outing, and they've only had eight months to find time to rehearse them (ouch!).
NEC, Birmingham, 22nd June 2003 - live review
All those doubters who said they'd never change things on this tour - they've got a new backdrop!
I don't know what to think, maybe the venue just sucks the life out of concerts for me. The first half of the show seemed rather perfunctory even from where I was (front row of block two), after a great opening to "Highway Star", but they seemed to be working hard and I can imagine had I seen the last few numbers of the set in a proper venue I'd have really rated it. As it was, they managed to begin to connect even in this hall, and "Perfect Strangers" onwards was enjoyable enough. But the first half of the set went all over the place, seemingly without much direction. The addition of "I'm Alone" was an interesting concept (the hall went very quiet so I'm not sure how many recognised it), but in practise seemed very run of the mill, which is a shame as we've been moaning for new oldies long enough now. It just seems such a weird choice from everything they could have brought out of the vaults. The segue into the next number was very clumsy too.
Don seemed to cope pretty well - though it was perhaps alarming to hear him repeating his 2002 solo again so soon in his career with the band. Lordy at least gave it twenty years before he began down that road! I did miss not having Jon on stage somehow, and I think this perhaps contributed to my mood, but musically Don has fitted in pretty well I'd say. The set early on did have the feel of a band going through the motions at times, despite the effort they seemed to be making. Maybe the heat didn't help, it was a bit like pushing treacle uphill at times. Perhaps it was too soon after the last tour to largely repeat the set again. Surely it would have made more sense to wait for the album release, and then get out there and promote it, instead of this stop-gap approach?
The one totally new offering "Haunted" sounded pretty ordinary live, while the other new track was done on the early part of the 2002 tour. It was thus a little more familiar, and instrumentally quite promising, though lyrically it didn't sparkle overmuch. The lame puns about the new LP title from Ian produced a weak groan from some sections of the crowd too and disbelief elsewhere. Ian Paice seemed a tad more subdued than last year, though still on the nail. As the set was cut back to accommodate Skynyrd, he also dropped his drum solo. Indeed the set was very efficient, and almost all Gillan's between song patter - which has been disappearing for a few tours now - has gone. "There is an interesting story about this song, but I'm not going to tell it now..."
I just can't work out where Ian's at right now. He was looking fit, and singing well. Yet grumbling about doing "retro" interviews, whilst happy to front a set which is thirty years old (and largely ignore most of the last twenty)... the word is dichotomy. Even the tracks from "Purpendicular" have all been given the big heave ho - despite the large number of people there wearing t-shirts from that era. For a huge proportion of the crowd, the reunion material is what they grew up hearing; the old lags like me who recall the oldies from first time around are getting thinner on the ground (albeit thicker round the middle!). I just think they're selling themselves way short.
Financially it must be working; the crowd was bigger than the last NEC show, so putting on two old-catalogue sets back to back is clearly popular, allowing both bands to play the bigger venues without fear of not selling enough tickets.
Bananas - Album review
The "Sgt. Pepper's" quote which Ian Gillan used in the long build-up to the album sessions was in some ways a strange pointer with which to give Deep Purple fans an indication of where he wanted the band's new album to go. Much of the album seems to have been laid down in a relatively short period. This has produced the bonus of an album which - in places - captures the band's on stage ambience and power more fully than any previous studio offering, but on the down side there is material which could certainly have done with more work. So if by "Sgt. Pepper" Ian was hinting at an album full of classics, then this falls a little short of that laudable aim. So there is a feeling of being slightly
let down. Yet going back through the reunion albums to date, none of them achieved a huge hit rate of classic Deep Purple stunners. So when "Bananas" delivers, well to my ears at least a quartet of real goodies (others would go even higher), then that's surely some cause for celebration.
That they should do this despite losing someone of Jon Lord's stature is also something fans can breath a sigh of relief over. I've just been through some of the tracks again
after a deliberate break of several weeks
(following the usual initial intense exposure to
the album) and musically I don't really miss Jon. I miss his presence certainly, but the performance here doesn't suffer from him not being on the tracks. Don Airey comes at the tracks from a different direction a lot of the time, but he does it with a depth which
surprised me, used as I was to the more lightweight keyboard offerings on the Rainbow albums. Indeed with Don fitting in well, and Steve Morse perhaps taking a slightly less active role at times, there's more of a fully balanced Deep Purple feel to many of the tracks which I really like. If only the producer had been able to work out where to fit Ian Gillan into the overall picture. Too often he's pushed way to the fore, leaving the band in a backing role - not what DP are about to me. Yet there are moments on the album where they get it all right, and when they do, there's no one out there to match them!
It's nice to get a good strong opener, and what better way to kick start than with "House Of Pain"? Paicey plays like he's nailing every single beat to the floor and it's an almost flawless performance. On past albums the usual cop out comment of "it'll sound great live" is often an excuse for a track which doesn't quite sparkle like it should, but who cares if they do this live or not? They'd be hard pushed to top this performance.
You're just taking stock of the track when "Sun Goes Down" throttles in, and takes proceedings up another notch - or three. It's a tense, apocalyptic piece; sharp, crisp production and an astonishingly full studio sound. Don's work in particular gives the track some real gravitas. But why on earth fade the track out? I could have taken several more minutes of this.
So the band can still deliver, but they stumble on "Haunted". I'd not been taken much hearing it live, and with some cliched rock'n' roll moments and awkward lyrics I can't work out why this got such a pre-release build-up. It lacks the serious anthemic kick-points which any big-time rock ballad needs to lift it up and give it real cross over chart appeal. It just about makes sense if you crank the volume way too high (try it when the neighbours are away!) but radio doesn't work like that.
From there the clap-o-meter readings nose dive as we're faced with "Razzle Dazzle". With a serious lack of vocal melody and some of the saddest lyrics ever to grace a Deep Purple record, with no redeeming sense of humour evident, it's a new contender for their worst studio track of all time. From "Sun Goes Down" to this in just eight minutes or so? Even more of a puzzle, Ian Gillan just keeps raving about the track in interviews. Perhaps I'm living in an alternate universe these days. There is one good strong verse towards the end before Don pulls out a honky tonk solo (what else could he do?!) which shows that the track had possibilities, but many will have switched off long before that moment.
Happily "Silver Tongue" restores some faith in the proceedings. The thundering staccato rhythm has real power and at times this track is astonishingly good. The production sound is spot on and I love the way
they've woven into the background elements
of Gillan's vocal during the
instrumental passages - indeed it's something I feel they could have pushed even further, been more experimental with. The whole effect is very groovy as it charges to a close. "Picture Of Innocence" largely keeps up the standard, it feels so good as the group shuffle into it with understated aplomb, and Gillan is thinking a little harder lyrically. Sure there are echoes of "No Laughing In Heaven" in the content but it seems to work albeit perhaps a little less focused than on something like "Fools".
The production balance is much better here too and as they rock out between verses you're reminded just what an individual and unique sound they still have these days.
It's business as normal on "I Got Your Number", a pretty standard Morse era opening break and a standard rocker. The vocals are again too high I feel, and it's often hard to pick up on the band, who sound like they're bursting to break out. Towards the end though Morse gets to throw in some powerful growling guitar just before the Hammond solo, and the gentle ending is a nice touch.
This more reflective mood is allowed to continue with "Never A Word". You're expecting a bludgeoning riff to charge up behind you but instead they've allowed Morse to lay down a quiet almost semi-acoustic piece, with Gillan adding a gentle melodic vocal which becomes almost Clannad like at times. Way too short mind you.
With Glover and Airey back together,
it's surprisingly only on the enigmatically titled title track "Bananas" that the riff
reminds me much of Rainbow, but almost
as soon as you've registered the fact it's forgotten as the tracks romps along leaving any past references behind. Once more it's unforgivably short. They steam into the instrumental passages, but just as you're prepared for Gillan to return to the fray it all packs up. Pah.
That's about it for me. "Doing It Tonight"
is one Gillan on the prowl lyric too far, and a
fairly predictable and uninspired rocker to boot. One or two musical ideas surface towards the end but it never comes to life. "Contact Lost" needed to tingle the spine big time and doesn't. For one of the only times since Steve joined I wonder what Ritchie would have made of something like this.
Otherwise though, at least half this album is
good enough to pass muster, and four really good tracks which you know would sit happily on any future "Best Of" is a damn good hit rate for a post '84 album.
Haunted - Single review
Haunted 4:21 / Haunted (Mellow Mix) 3:59
EMI 7243 5 52563 2 4 : Germany : Sept 22 2003 5" CD
Michael Bradford said, "I have also mixed it a few other ways, for the listener who wants less embellishment. The single is being supplied with the following mixes: 1. Album Version 2. No Strings - No Background Vocals 3. With Strings - No BGV 4. Slightly shorter solo (for radio only)"
The single makes use of versions I and 4. The 'mellow mix' lacks the first twenty seconds of the guitar solo, in fact the guitar is mixed very low, barely audible over the orchestration. Promotion copies came in two versions - the first being CDRs with a simple laser printed inlay. Then came the regular edition with a 5" EMI Capitol card insert with details of the 'Personenkarussell'. Nigel Young
Regent Theatre, Ipswich, 10th May 2003 - live review
Last issue the American tour was getting underway. They kicked off late January and ran through to early April.
From the UK shows in May they did some big gigs in Germany, then hit Austria, the Czech Republic, Holland, Sweden, Italy and Greece, ending up on June 14th in Bulgaria. A second US leg was set up starting in mid-July and ending late August in Canada. Supports this time were Warrant, Slaughter and Kip Winger. Coverdale (billed as ''the golden voice of '80s metal band Whitesnake") also co-hosted VH1 Classic in America in August. They had a couple of weeks off before eight shows in Japan in September to end with. 2003 was the 25th anniversary of Whitesnake; EMI issued two compilations to mark this.
"David Coverdale and his hired hands arrived in Suffolk for a warm-up show for the Monsters Of Rock tour (why they need to warm up after 30 plus US dates is beyond me!) and delivered a set biased towards the earlier era of the band.
Despite this, they opened with "Bad Boys" from the poodle perm era, Mr. C was looking and sounding very good indeed. "Slide It In", "Slow And Easy", and a cracking "Walking In The Shadow" really showed off his singing, compared to the shouting he did so much of on the "Slip Of The Tongue" tour. "Love Ain't No Stranger", "Is This Love" and "Crying In The Rain" kept up the good work, but the highlight of the evening was an emotionally charged "Ain't No Love", with the Whitesnake choir (Ipswich branch) doing it and DC justice. "Here I Go Again", "Fool For Your Loving" and "Give Me All Your Love" brought the set to a close.
DC and his bandits came back to deliver a storming "Still Of The Night", but not before DC had done an acapella verse of "Soldier Of Fortune" (he had done the same with "Sailing Ships" earlier in the set after someone had shouted out for it). The backing band proved unimpressive apart from drummer Tommy Aldridge who looked like an atomic windmill behind the kit. The guitarists, although good enough for the later stuff, just lacked a certain something, feel for the material I think I would say. A good night, but Whitesnake used to send me home feeling I had seen something very special, not tonight sadly." Paul Thomas
The show was a sell out, but the venue released another two hundred tickets just a few days before the gig. Support for Ipswich turned out to be The Darkness, who had played with Deep Purple just a month later.
Sydney Opera House, January 2003 - live review
After two performances of the "Concerto" in Australia back in February 2002, conducted by Paul Mann and featuring the Australian band george, the work was staged again in January 2003. This time Jon Lord was able to get over and take part, but due to previous commitments, Paul Mann wasn't! This was the first time since 1999 that Paul had been unable to conduct the work. His place on the podium was taken by Simon Kenway.
The Sydney Symphony Orchestra did the honours for three sold out nights at the Sydney Opera House January 23rd, 25th and 26th. The evening was staged much as in London; classical pieces by the orchestra, some tracks from George backed by the orchestra and then the "Concerto" itself.
"george's treatment of the "Concerto" is quite different to Purple's, more conciliatory and complementary. Their interplay with the orchestra is more respectful than combative - they wait their turn then let fly, whereas with Deep Purple it's a battle royal! This is in part due, I think, to the type of band they are -more subdued than Deep Purple - but may also reflect their youth. Fine musos as they are, they lack that supreme confidence - almost arrogance - that only comes with experience. This is also reflected in Nick Sterart's guitar playing. There aren't many players on the planet who can match it with Ritchie Blackmore or Steve Morse, and Nick, though a fine player in his own right, is not in the same league. So his soloing, though accomplished, lacked the aggression and virtuosity of Blackmore / Morse, and again, it was more to 'add something' to the overall effect.
The thing that surprised me the most was how Jon played a relatively 'minor' role. The gig was promoted as 'george and the SSO, with special guest Jon Lord', and that's really how it was. Unquestionably, this was George's night, and Jon clearly respected that. I think he chose to contribute to the production as an arranger rather than to dominate it as a musician. So the parts that Jon played in the original "Concerto" were taken by George, with Jon adding depth and colour, only soloing at opportune moments. It was only towards the end of the second movement that Jon got a big solo part, and he used that opportunity to vibe up the Hammond in a very Purple sort of way (much to the delight of the initiated!).
The third movement saw the whole effect cranked
up a notch, with all the players getting into the flow and working-off each other. At the end the whole place went ballistic." Paul Hogan
With Pictures - DVD review
Australia : TMM 161: Dec 2003 DVD
"With Pictures is a "90 minute documentary" assembled from odds and ends largely recorded during Jon's Australian visit. The picture shifts at random between 4:3 and widescreen. It begins with Jon Lord chatting about subjects including his departure from Deep Purple, which features some very nice (if very short) clips from the 2002 UK tour - including one camera footage from the Ipswich show, with Jon bidding farewell to the crowd. There's mention of the 2003 Sydney Concerto performances with george - but no actual footage, some inessential Hoochie Coochie Men rehearsals, and short clips of them live in concert (which later appear in full as bonus tracks.)
'Talking Culture' is distant one camera footage of a 50 minute on-stage interview in Sydney. Subtitles are required to help hear the questions. Acceptable enough for a bootleg video trade, but it shouldn't be on an official DVD. 'Boom Of The Tingling Strings' is 14 mins of camcorder footage from rehearsals. Rudimentary but fun. After all that build up we get 'Selected scenes from The Boom Of The Tingling Strings', which is just five minutes of distant camcorder footage from the premiere! The bonus tracks include live Hoochie Coochie Men tracks, the best being a TV show appearance which is already available on the Hoochie Coochie Men DVD. The rest are very grainy or poorly filmed. The 'ABC Radio Interview' is yet more grainy camcorder footage of Jon sat in a radio studio for I7 minutes. Yawwnnn... And, finally, a tinny off-air radio interview, with a photo gallery for visuals.
Everything from the cover to the (misleading) sleeve-notes suggest that we're going to see the Concerto shows with george and the full Boom Of The Tingling Strings premiere. We don't, but there is a very good 20-30 minute feature buried in there - somewhere." David Browne
JON LORD & THE HOOCHIE COOCHIE MEN
The Basement, Sydney, 7th February 2003 - album review
If you think that Jon spent the time between Concerto shows sunning himself on the beach though, you'd be wrong. Originally the plan was for Jon to do a few "solo" gigs, playing tracks from "Pictured Within" and a number of his classical rock pieces, with a ten piece band including a string quartet, and Miller Anderson.
However for a number of reasons, including Jon hurting his hand and not wanting to strain it by doing a lot of serious piano work, these were pulled, and instead a hasty r'n'b tour was arranged instead with ex-Rainbow bassist Bob Daisley sorting the band out - Jon reasoning that the Hammond doesn't require such physical effort to play. The band were Bob Daisley -Bass guitar / vocals, Tim Gaze - Guitar / vocals; Rob Grosser - Drums / vocals; and Jim Conway -Harmonica.
Firstly let me make two declarations: One, I'm not a huge fan of rootsy blues, and two, I'm not a huge fan of Jimmy Barnes. These prejudices, especially the first, meant that for me the Hoochie Coochie Men were already starting at a slight disadvantage. The set consisted almost entirely of roots blues covers. The band was super tight, with Bob Daisley's bass providing a solid, well, base (!) for the band to work off. His playing is very fluid and measured, almost melodic (if a bass can be such a thing!). He's obviously a very
competent player, but his playing on Friday night was more laid-back than flashy. He has that air of someone who's been round rock'n roll for an awfully long time. The rest of the band does too for that matter, mainly because they have!
Seeing Jon play with Deep Purple was always a pleasure, but seeing him as the band leader, as the driver of the music, the showcase, was another experience altogether. And especially so in a small, intimate venue.
When Jon cut loose on that Hammond, the place was just abuzz. My God he can make that beast sing!
Then there was the 'surprise guest' Jimmy Barnes, who was once considered as a possible replacement for Ian Gillan in Deep Purple, around the time of the Joelene Turner era. Maybe he would have been a better choice? He is without doubt one of the great rock'n roll screamers. His voice is what Brian Johnson aspires to be. What's wearing is that's all he does, which ends up leaving the impression that that's all he CAN do. I've got to say that on Friday night he showed that he really can sing. In a smaller venue he managed, at least for a time, to drop down a gear and allow the songs room to breathe. Not so much in Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man" though, which was one of the highlights of the night! That song lends itself to a bit of screaming and Barnsey sang it superbly. But in the one Deep Purple song of the night, "When a Blind Man Cries", he sang with considerable feeling. Very nice to hear an alternative take on this song, and that was also a standout for me. There was also the majestic intro on the Hammond that featured bits of "Lazy" and a couple of other Purple snippets." Paul Hogan
The Basement show was filmed and recorded, appearing in Australia on double CD and DVD in late 2003. From my own point of view it's a predictable set of standards busked by a group of capable r'n'b / blues musicians, not the sort of thing to get me rushing for my wallet. Oh, and earplugs in for guest vocalist Jimmy Barnes bawling his way through 'When A Blind Man Cries'.
Rio's, Bradford. 17th October 2003 - live review
In My Blood / You Kill Me / Higher Places / First Step Of Love / Written All Over Your Face / Seafull / Beyond The Numb / Can't Stop The Flood / Blue Jade / Mistreated / Wherever You Go / Getting Tighter - Seventh Star / You Keep On Moving / Burn. (Wherever You Go was on the set list but left out).
There was a really packed crowd for Glenn's first UK show of this short four date visit. It's not a bad venue in many ways, but they should really sort out the ventilation, as the musty smell inside was terrible! The set was a real return to the form of previous tours for me. The Deep Purple covers shows with Uli Roth didn't really appeal to me and I was very disappointed by the last one-off he did in London, which was full of covers and ignored many of his own albums, but this time he's been listening to what the fans want (having invited submissions via his web site) - as the set list shows. Would that a certain other band might try this!
For me the highlights were "Beyond The Numb", and paradoxically a great version of "Seventh Star" - but when they kicked into "Mistreated" it felt like being in a huge arena such was the modest but hugely intense crowd's reaction. I couldn't help stand and watch them for a while. It must be fairly humbling for to be the recipient of such support, but you have to say Glenn warrants it when he plays like this.
Overall it was a proper group performance, and as such harked back to the power of some of his earlier solo tours which I've reported on in glowing terms in the past, and it's nice to be able to recommend the band as a great night out. A few first night glitches in places, most of which were followed by knowing glances and smiles across the stage.
Songs In The Key Of Rock - album review
Italy : Frontiers Records FRCD I48D : 2003 CD
Glenn had been drumming up interest in his new solo album (initial copies in a nice crisp digipak booklet) by saying he was aiming for a slightly more Mk3 Deep Purple sound in the mix. Has he succeeded? Well I can certainly hear what he was driving at, and it is nice at times to have that slightly old fashioned 1970s era sound (a lot of it courtesy of the Hammond organ) mixed in with a more modern approach. The album is certainly up a notch on his last one in the varied but polished approach it takes overall. I really like the combination of hard rock and funk on "Get You Stoned", full of dynamics, while "Standing On The Rock" is perhaps my favourite - a short potent blast which manages to blend a punky drive with a vocal Iron Maiden would kill for, and even makes a nod at "Highball Shooter" yet still manages to infuse it all with something all of its own. What do others make of it?
A much-anticipated release, which would be judged on whether or not it matched last year's Hughes Turner Project release which to these ears was easily the best thing Glenn had been involved with in ages.
Right from the opener "In My Blood" it is obvious Glenn is staying true to his recent comments that he wanted to rock again, and this fine song could have come straight off "Stormbringer", with it's throbbing, under-pinning bass and the Hammond well to the fore, great guitar solo as well. "Lost In The Zone" has a very similar feel, while "Gasoline" is a frantic rocker that at times just sounds like the band playing over a drum solo, but does have a great Blackmore sounding solo from JJ Marsh.
Next up is one of THE highlights of the album, "Higher Places (song for Bonzo)". Not surprisingly it has a very Zeppelin feel, with the classic Bonham drum sound behind a "Kashmir" type riff, a cool, burning, slow paced classic.
"Get You Stoned" is a grunge tinged rocker with a slight funky feel to it, followed by the albums second real highlight, "Written All Over Your Face". Over a few listens I sense a Prince-type groove, with slight soul overtones, but don't let that put you off, it really is a quite magnificent song with some soaring guitar solos.
"Standing On The Rock" is a riff driven rocker with very in your face vocals: yet again the Hammond sound is well used, and the solo from JJ Marsh brings to mind Burn era Purple.
The Prince sound surfaces again on "Courageous" which reminds me of his "Raspberry Beret" single, complete with psychedelic Byrds-type jangling guitars. There is an unlisted 12th track, a minute long keyboard and voice reprise of "Higher Places". I would have loved to hear a full length version of this as Glenn's voice really shines.
So then, overall a bloody fine release. A definite 70's, Purple feel to the whole disc, with the superb vocals we all take for granted, and some quality lyrics to boot. At times I had visions of a certain Mr. Lord bent over the keys; let's hope Glenn has the sense to take a keyboard player on tour with him this time, we could be in for the fireworks he has failed to deliver live on the last few occasions." Paul Thomas
HUGHES TURNER PROJECT
HTP 2 - album review
UK : MTM 0681-81 : 2003 CD
"After such a good solo album from Glenn, "HTP2" sounds rushed. It is guitar driven riff rock in the main, but lacks character or majesty. A Rainbow remould and some Zeppy interludes, most obviously on the closing track. I liked the keyboards on "HTP I"'s closing track "On The Ledge" and HTP 2 would have been helped by some strong keyboards as a counterpoint. Only "Hold On" and "Goodbye Friday" rise above the norm. Whilst I admire Glenn's work ethic I think he spreads himself too thin when he should be concentrating on his solo career & keeping up the standard set by "Songs In The Key Of Rock'', an album you can play to the uninitiated and convince!" Simon Ford
Promo copies from MTM came in a card mini CD sleeve with a different photo on the back (plus the words "promo only" printed on both sides). Not sure it was a wise move to keep such a similar cover to Vol I either, it won't stand out much in the stores...
Ghost Of A Rose - album review
Europe : SPV 08574992: June 30th 2003 CD ;
Europe : SPV 08574990 : June 30th 2003 CD digipak ;
Europe : SPY 085 74992 CD-P : CD promo
"The biggest criticism of the album is that the band are beginning to sound samey. The first couple of albums saw a growing process, particularly for Candice, but "Fires At Midnight" probably represented the full development of the sound, which is over repeated on this release. Thus we have the pseudo rockers, most effectively done on the opening "Way To Mandalay", echoing both Rainbow's "Tarot Woman" and the title track of the last album. Likewise at the other end of the scale are the intricate 'authentic' medieval pieces, "Nur Eine Minute" and "Mr. Peagram", either genuine tunes or strictly 'done in the style of'. Throw in a couple of covers and a few middle ground numbers and you have an album much like the previous.
It's those middle ground numbers where Blackmore's Night fall down for me. Most of the audience are up for the rock elements, and whether you like the tightly structured acoustic stuff is personal choice (I do), but syrupy material like "Queen For A Day" and "Ghost Of A Rose" fall well short of the mark as far as I'm concerned. It's an old joke that life in the middle ages was like the people - nasty, brutish, and short - but too much of the band's output is a sanitised chocolate box vision of past times. There's nothing here reflecting the darker side of life, like the casual brutality of Fairport Convention's "Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman", or the malevolence of "Doctor Of Physick", both from the amazing "Full House" album. "Loreley" is an elves and pixies view of historic France, whereas Van Der Graaf's "Roncevaux" cut to the quick of historic battle. Even the Rainbow material (covered by this band) like "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" and "Self Portrait" looked into the wilderness, rather than hiding in a land of flowers. Put "Three Black Crows" against Steeleye's magnificent "Twa Corbies", which covers similar ground (corbie is old English for crow), and the shortcomings of Blackmore's Night are brought into sharp relief.
Overall then, "Ghost Of A Rose" is really more of the same, as far as I am concerned. It certainly won't win them any new fans, but it won't alienate those that have made the journey so far. Over the years, Ritchie has taken an idea, developed it, then abandoned it and moved on (bluesy rock in Mk 3, the Dio era epic Rainbow, then AOR Rainbow for example). I wonder if his attention span has extended with age, or whether he will move on from the BN concept to pastures new shortly. Certainly if nothing changes, I can see the band all too easily atrophying around the current sound." Matthew Kean
Reading 2003 - live review
"Two years ago Blackmore's Night, well mainly Blackmore, produced an inspired performance in Reading, which presumably accounted for the return visit and the rapturous reception of the crowd that seemed genuinely to touch the band. This show was more standard however, competent but not flying to the heights of previously. No evidence of trees either, just a backdrop of an unconvincing medieval village, and a few barrels disguising the keyboards.
Now with four albums, Blackmore's Night have quite a range of material to choose from, though the similarity of those releases lessens that impact to a degree. Thus we opened with "Cartouche", but it took a long time to get me to the point of actually being able to identify it - which album is that one on then? - running into a main set based largely around self penned material, aside from "Soldier Of Fortchun", "Diamonds And Rust", and "Wind In The Willows". Even the next day, I find that little of this stands out - "Home Again" for the sheer fun of it, with Ritchie continually breaking into "Rule Britannia"; and "Fires At Midnight", though this lacked the superlative soloing of the last show here.
Down side particularly was "Ghost Of A Rose", unfortunate as it is the title track of the album and tour, but a drippy ballad that no degree of live performance can enhance. More interesting are the instrumental workouts, with Ritchie expressing his fear at playing "Mr Peagram's Morris And Sword", but carrying off its intricate structure with real skill.
Highlight of the night was undoubtedly 'All For One", the first encore, where Ritchie donned a Strat, and support act Die Geyers added bagpipes to a big band take. This overshadowed "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves", which was an untidy version with verses apparently dropped in at random, and a quick blast of "Difficult To Cure" that ran into "Self Portrait", so mangled as to be virtually meaningless. The Tull cover of "Rainbow Blues" worked better than on the album." Matthew Kean
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in the magazine... 2003 Deep Purple tour reviews, UK, Europe and South America .... Bananas album reviews .... Michael Bradford interview .... Deep Purple book reviews .... Deep Purple fan clubs .... Questions & Answers .... Whitesnake tour reviews .... Whitesnake 25th anniversary compilations feature .... Whitesnake in Alkmaar 1978 interview & feature .... Deep Purple in 1969, St Anselms Hall feature .... letters .... Jon Lord, 2003 Australian tour news and reviews ... Glenn Hughes 2003 tour reviews .... Steve Morse news ... Ian Paice news .... Roger Glover news .... Don Airey news .... Deep Purple 'Kneel & Pray' feature .... Deep Purple, Machine Head remaster feature .... Deep Purple, Just Might Take Your Life feature .... CD & DVD reviews .... Blackmore's Night tour reviews .... Deep Purple, The Early Years feature .... Ian Gillan with Black Sabbath 1983-84 feature ... and much more
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