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LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Long before reunions became big-money pursuits, the key members of Deep Purple put aside differences that caused them to split in 1973 and, bowing not to financial concerns but public demand, reformed for their first album in 11 years and a subsequent blockbuster tour. While the record's title cleverly acknowledges the long time the musicians spent apart, everything about the LP confirms the inimitable blend of creative chemistry, crafty songwriting, and trademark skills shared by the five players.
All the hallmark traits from Deep Purple's golden era (1970-1973) are on display throughout this platinum comeback affair, which has aged much better than most mid-80s efforts in terms of sound, performance, and content. At times mystical, aggressive, and dramatic, Perfect Strangers leaves a lasting impression courtesy of Ian Gillan's leather-lunged vocal range, Roger Glover's self-assured bass lines, Ian Paice's titanium-tough drumming, and the trade-off soloing between the wizard-like, vibrato-emboldened guitar playing of Ritchie Blackmore and voodoo-casting organ spells of Jon Lord.
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Like with so many other groups and artists, I was a bit late realizing just how awesome this band was/is. I always like some of their AOR FM staples, but don't think I ever even purchased their "Deepest Purple" until after I picked up this big rocker in '84. I loved this album, and not just the radio hits, the whole album was hard rock ear candy at that tyme in my life. Quickly I started picking up some of their earlier '70s releases.
In my opinion, this is another one of those "Desert Island" releases. This is in my opinion, a better, stronger effort than "Machine Head". I know that is probably sacrilegious to many Purple fanz out there, but I'm not saying "Machine Head" isn't a great album, I'm just trying to convey how good this release is, to me anyway. I think all eight of the original cuts are welcome listening on any AOR FM formatted venue or on any Classic Rock or Hard Rock station. "Knocking At Your Back Door", "Nobody's Home" & "Perfect Strangers" are the standouts of the album and got all the air play, but "Under The Gun", "Mean Streak", "A Gypsy's Kiss", "Wasted Sunsets" & "Hungry Daze" all are enjoyable efforts. Since the release of the LP, there have been two "bonus" tracks added. Track 9 "Not Responsible" I've read was actually on the original CD and Cassette release. Later in '99 Track 10 "Son Of Alerik" a 10+ minute instrumental was added to the CD. It might not really have a place one AOR FM radio or Classic Rock stations, but it is a beautiful tune. I'm glad it was added. As my only complaint of the LP release back in '84 was the fact that it seemed a bit short on tyme clocking in just over 40 minutes. Now with Track 9 & 10 included it is right at 65 minutes of good hard rocking listening.
I'm going to crawl back on my soap box and just say how disappointing it is that great musicians like Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Roger Glover have been shunned by the R&RHoF!! I'm not omitting or diminishing Ian Gillan or Ian Paice, but those other three are arguably some of the very best there's ever been at their respective instruments. Paice is a great drummer and Gillan has one of the best voices in my opinion that I've ever heard. I personally would induct the entire band, along with Glenn Hughes & David Coverdale. It is really a shame that this honer wasn't bestowed on them prior to Jon Lord's passing. This band can and does hold their own when compared to some of the other legends of the tyme, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Black Sabbath...Let's make it happen...Wouldn't it be great to see Blackmore, Paice, Glover & Gillian reunite just for the acceptance speech and a possible one last rendition of one or two of their classics?! I'll also say, what about Jethro Tull, Bad Company, Yes & The Moody Blues...why are these staples of the '70s & '80s not so honored?!
Keep A Rockin' In The Free World!!
Changin' The World One Ear At A Tyme!!
It was the perfect reply to Zeppelin's "In Through The Outdoor" of '79. Perfect Strangers could be one of their best works. If not, it's certainly their most rounded, at least until 2005`s Rapture of the Deep. It's a rock album from start to finish, and really, they never sounded so good together. Anchoring the album are two songs, "Knockin' At Your Back Door", and the title track. Both are rooted firmly in the Purple hard rock plan. They're extensive, hulking groaners that allow Ritchie Blackmore the freedom to play his guitar. Jon Lord's organ adds the glue that holds the band together, giving us something to pay attention to while there are breaks in the action. The organ is most powerful on "Mean Streak". It's a throwback to the primitive energy of their olden days. But it's also here that we see exactly what Deep Purple really is: a rhythm band. Bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice keep the whole thing grooving, while Lord's keys and Blackmore's guitar insert accents of zing. Gillian's voice sits atop all this, telling stories of an intoxicated girlfriend. On "Hungry Daze" we hear influences acquired during the band's time off. Gillian's voice, at times, sounds like his stint with Black Sabbath. Blackmore adds guitar work that reminds me of Rainbow. The next track is "Not Responsible" Gillian's "funk you" anthem, where he explains that he'll do anything he wants, and accept no responsibility for his actions. That's rock n roll.
Perfect Strangers was a atypical album for Deep Purple. Never had the band sounded so cohesive. Never had they managed such a consistent sound over an entire album. Perhaps that's why they called the album Perfect Strangers. Maybe they were five musicians, so diverse that they were strangers to each other in fact. Infinitely different people, that complimented each other perfectly. A piece of pure magic in my opinion.
Highlights: Knockin' At Your Back Door, Under The Gun, Perfect Strangers, Gypsy's Kiss and Wasted Sunsets.
NOTE: Be sure you get the Polydor version of this disc and not the 1999 Mercury version re-master, it just seems to breath better in my humble opinion.