Alas! A bunch of old-timers rock’n’roll veterans were arrested on 26th November. Their mugshots reveal the impact the exhaustive manhunt had to the men. To all, but one. Steve Morse hasn’t really changed the last 30 years… Their crime? The finally released an album with solely cover material.
Now, having a rock band cover other rock artists rarely brings something extraordinary and radical in the performance, and this album is no exception. While to some extent the album reminds me of a more mature version of the Javelins – the 60s band of Ian Gillan -, the “signature” of the latest (and longest-running) mark of Deep Purple is widespread. There is Don Airey hinting on “Smoke on the Water” in the timely “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” (originally commemorating the atypical pneumonia and the Asian flu affecting the U.S. around 1957) or finishing up the Bob Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow” with a classical piano solo (one of my favourite songs in the album by the way), Ian Paice drumming feverishly in “7 and 7 is”, or Steve Morse signature fill ins. Especially Aireys’s improvisation achieve at bringing live performances in mind. Heavier tunes (see “Shapes of Things” by Yardbirds or “White Room” by Cream) on the other hand may feel a lot like album fillers, rather than a “let’s make this a Deep Purple song” kind of attitude, despite the solos and the creative freedom.
Still, besides from Deep Purple themselves obviously having fun playing the songs – see “Jenny Take a Ride!”, shooting the video clip of “Oh Well”, and making the artwork, this album has many interesting moments: “7 and 7 is”, originally by Love and a fitting opening track, the transformed “Oh Well” by Fleetwood Mac, the, I guess now fun, western “the Battle of New Orleans” initially sung by Johnnie Horton, and the afore-mentioned “Watching the Flow” are good examples.
You know what? The more I listen, the more I like this album. It has variety, ranging from rock’n’roll to western to big band to hard rock, all filtered through the lens of Deep Purple, a band of rockers who, while in their mid 70s (with the exception of Steve Morse), do not give up, keep evolving their repertoire and care to honour and remember their roots and influences from back in the 60s.