2020 COULD have been the title to a Sci-Fi book written, say, in 1968 the year that a certain English beat combo released Shades of Deep Purple, their first album. The plot revolved around a global pandemic virus caught from bats, bringing the world to its knees with no hope in sight. Ridiculous. Publishers would have rolled their eyes and rejected the absurdity of parts of the synopsis where both the USA and the UK’s leaders (at that time) were a former TV host and an ex-Eton school boy who found public approval on a comedy news quiz as its bumbling upper-class presenter. Then having the Russian President re-writing the law whereby the two-term limit can be extended to at least four and (and this was the clincher as to why is was never written), the number one album in most of Europe was the latest by that now fifty 52 year old British rock band. Not to mention getting to number four in the UK. But now it really is 2020 and the only good part was the music prediction.
The fourth by the line-up which features keyboard player Don Airey and guitarist Steve Morse, out of their twenty one studio recordings, and this group is very lucky to have them. Airey (Colosseum II, Rainbow Michael Schenker, err Eurovison Song Contest) and former Dixie Dregs and Kansas six-stringer, Morse bring an elegance and dexterity that have lifted the this band to a new level. Just skip to track four for the sheer joy of Nothing At All a bitter sweet vision of today but with a lovely guitar and organ call and response riff that Bach would have been proud of.
After previous outing Infinite, these doyens of British culture have done it again, and the great unwashed have agreed in their masked-up masses. Proggy wise, they haven’t quite reproduced Jon Lord tribute Uncommon Man (from Now What) but as a piece of rock music in this day and age, it ticks many boxes for those who are unfamiliar with what can be found out there in a sea of boy bands and so called R&B acts.
Straight out of the traps, and with a video to accompany it, boogie shuffle Throw My Bones sums up this band with another Ted the Mechanic-style starter before the more serious stuff happens. Again, Producer Bob Ezrin (Gabriel, Floyd, Alice Cooper etc) gilds this latest offering with a timeless and sharp sound that could be from any era and even has an analogue bigness that is not an easy task when real iron oxide and tape is not involved. Don Airey’s Hammond (gifted by the late Jon Lord) is still a huge part of Deep Purple’s appeal which can imbue a song with everything from blues to prog in a single glissando.
Drop the Weapon (about gun crime) and Man Alive (a fitting song about us Humans as Earth’s pathogen) have Machine Head-like keyboard playing in abundance, not to overshadow Steve Morse’s Blackmore destroying guitar work making him a worthy successor to the man in black. Ian Gillan sings No Need to Shout proving his voice is as stentorian as ever, but he’s let go of the screams as the years rack up, which is no bad thing.
Signature dish Step By Step is where most listeners will find the great Deep Purple nowadays, elements of the Baroque in minor keys with drummer Ian Paice’s distinctive swagger driving this short song. And for every grown-up piece, there’s always a What the What, a rollicking bar brawl of a track. Long Way Round is classic Purple, pedal to the metal highway rock with soaring chorus’s but this time featuring a Colosseum styled synth solo but grounded by that superb guitar tone from Morse with an absorbing narrative from the singer. It codas out in an almost Floyd-like manner and the urge to play it again is overwhelming.
Power of the Moon is chant-like, followed by short instrumental Remission Possible which is as good as Yes’s Cinema interlude from 90125 and similarly segues into aforementioned Man Alive with its silly spoken word part, but at least it explains the album’s name, ‘WHOOSH’ as that is how long it would take Mother Nature to wipe us all out. A clip clop rhythm in sections and yet more memorable soloing from Steve Morse, a very (hopefully not, but then again) prophetic warning. Penultimate track is a reworking of And the Address credited to Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord from the Shades album. The fact that the same drummer is performing it then (8 years into the sixties) and now means we should all have whatever he’s on.
Ending with Dancing in My Sleep, an almost party blues romp driven by Roger Glover’s bass, Booker T organ, and ZZ Top Tequila guitar. It’s beer swilling table top dancing rock and roll played on a Friday night in your socially distanced pub. A very successful album as seen by the sales but do not think in anyway that this band have sold out. The need for some of the old guard is plainly a requirement in this treacle lake of asinine dirge that is rammed down our throats by the popular media. A little marketing prowess for this kind of music (this album was record of the week on BBC’s Ken Bruce show) and people would find out many delights to spend their Universal Credit on and to be cheered up following redundancies and work closures in this annus horribilis. There’s optimism in the more serious tracks and sheer fun in the others. Whoosh! should sit next to the rest of the catalogue, especially the Morse/Airey ones like Rapture of the Deep and Now What. It appears that in a changing world of not a lot to look forward to, they’ll always be our beloved Deep Purple.
01. Throw My Bones (3:39)
02. Drop the Weapon (4:24)
03. We’re All the Same in the Dark (3:44)
04. Nothing At All (4:43)
05. No Need to Shout (3:31)
06. Step By Step (3:35)
07. What the What (3:33)
08. The Long Way Round (5:40)
09. The Power of the Moon (4:09)
10. Remission Possible (1:39)
11. Man Alive (5:36)
12. And the Address (3:36)
13. Dancing in My Sleep (Bonus Track) (3:52)
Total Time – 51:41
Ian Gillan – Vocals
Steve Morse – Guitars
Don Airey – Keyboards
Roger Glover – Bass
Ian Paice – Drums
Ayana George – Backing Vocals (track 5)
Tiffany Palmer – Backing Vocals (track 5)
Saam Hashemi – Programming (track 13)
Record Label: earMusic
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 7th August 2020