About forty years into their career and DEEP PURPLE are still releasing more studio albums then bands one tenth their age. But the question with PURPLE’s new offering is, like with all behemoths of Rock, are they still relevant? When it comes to answering this question the result can be two things: Either DP is still at the front of the rock world like with MAIDEN and PRIEST in Heavy Metal, where every release is still huge news and they’re still considered frontrunners of the scene, or the ROLLING STONES variety where everybody acknowledges that they’re legends but their new music hardly creating a stir.
DP would be a bit in the middle and, luckily for a nice part leaning towards the former. “Rapture Of The Deep” won’t shock anybody by far but is still a most Rock-solid release where especially Steve Morse still has lots of fun playing to offer. It’s folly to draw the comparison to the innovative playing of Blackmore but a song like the title track shows adventurous melodies whereas a ballad as “Clearly Quite Absurd” shows very emotional yet simple playing making the song a highlight of the album; an uncanny fact given the track record of ballads by Classic Rock bands. But even more so then Morse Ian Gillan’s voice is still of unmatched quality and finesse. You can disregard the fact that he’s over sixty years old as it simply does not show, unless you expect vocal solos a la “Child In Time”, that frankly nobody will ever match again, ever. Other than that his voice is very AOR-like, relaxing at times but also very dynamic and with an excellent groove. Also the live classics on the second disc are sung in a brilliant way.
And what is a PURPLE record without a prominent Hammond organ? Don Airey’s performance too is fine and DP still have the unique quality to make a Hammond sound like a guitar solo, an integral part of the DP experience. The efforts of these long-going legendary musicians result in a very enjoyable yet hardly innovating record. Songs like “Don’t Let Go” And “Back To Back” might be PURPLE by numbers but that still means great Rock music.
If you don’t expect a new “In Rock” or “Machine Head” you can’t go wrong with this album. Or to put in a different way; the truth about the quality of DP anno 2006 lies in the lyrics of “MTV” Finally, I wish I could resist this, but alas I just have to mention what a great metaphor “Rapture Of The Deep” is for a good fart. (Online August 8, 2006)