Home Albums Album Review : Deep Purple – ‘=1’

Album Review : Deep Purple – ‘=1’

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Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM

Just when everyone is claiming that it’s time for the old guard to step down, despite (or maybe because of) this perception, vintage bands are putting out some of their best material in years with recent albums by Saxon, Judas Priest, AC/DC and Scorpions some of their best of their careers.

Further hitting this home with sledgehammer force, legends Deep Purple have unleashed latest opus ‘=1’ on the world and it’s a thrilling return to form after the somewhat lacklustre 2021 covers album ‘Turning to Crime’. With fresh blood in the form of guitarist Simon McBride giving the band an infusion of new talent, the baker’s dozen tracks that make up the album blend the swing and groove of the classic Mark II years with an energy that shows they’re far from ready to unplug from the mains yet.

Working again with the legendary Bob Ezrin, the sound here really does pop and the balance between all five members of Purple shines brightly as each is given its space. Whilst the ‘new boys’ of McBride and Don Airey (the latter having been with the band twenty-two years now) are pushed to the fore during their various sections, there’s always the main songs at the centre of things, nothing sacrificed to showboating.

This has always been such a key element with the band though and with such world class players the temptation to show off may be always present it’s to their eternal credit that the respect obviously present stops any egos being given free reign. Providing the rock-solid base on which everything is built, Ian Paice has been the engine room of Purple since their inception and his style is instantly recognisable, blending heavy hitting power with some jazz and big band touches, old friend Roger Glover adding his own stamp with his fluid bass lines.

Much praise must also go to the age-defying Ian Gillan too, a man who may have left behind the electrifying screams of ‘Child in Time’ but sounds fresher and fitter here than virtually every one of his peers. Having taken the same wise route as Robert Plant, there’s no studio cheating here and he’s adjusted his range accordingly whilst still retaining the distinct vocal tone he’s always had, his lyrics still contain the same sense of humour that were unleashed on his solo work with Gillan.

Airey has yet again proved his standing as one of the best keys players in the world and the perfect replacement for the late, great Jon Lord, his work on this new album echoing at times the master but also bringing his own style in the multiple runs and touches. Similarly, eschewing countless obvious huge name choices, Purple have picked well with McBride, the Irishman a perfect balance of Celtic fire and experience that adds new tones to their classic sound.

Kicking off with the driving ‘Show Me’, this is a band reborn and the interplay between the keys and guitar sets out their stall nicely as they add that individual magic that’s always raised them above from everyone else out there, the following ‘A Bit on the Side’ sounding like a band reborn.

The rather wonderful ‘Portable Door’ is an early highlight, the single sounding akin to something that could have been hewn from their comeback ‘Perfect Strangers’ album and shares that frisson of excitement with its thrilling buzz. Letting loose on ‘Old-Fangled Thing’ and the glorious multi-layered delights of ‘If I Were You’, the quintet should please both longtime purists and those new to the fold, Ezrin bringing the best out of the outfit with a nuanced yet visceral production.

On this form there’s no reason why Purple shouldn’t continue for quite a while down the road and with other barnstormers in the form of ‘Lazy Sod’, ‘Now You’re Talking’ and ‘Bleeding Obvious’ there’s much here that will bear repeat listens. Sounding almost obscenely sprightly on ‘No Money to Burn’, this legendary band can still leave everyone else gloriously in their dust and stand at the summit of the greatest hard rock outfits of all time, looking at all those below them with a wry smile and a knowing wink.

Not just a great Deep Purple album, nor just a great rock album, ‘=1’ is a truly great album that deserves to be celebrated far and wide. The kings have returned to reclaim their throne. All hail the kings.

Album Release: July 19th, 2024
Album Formats:

· Ltd. CD+DVD (Digipak)
· CD (Jewelcase)
· 2LP (black, 180g, Gtf.)
· Ltd. Purple 2LP (180g, Gtf.)
· Ltd. Crystal Clear (180g, Gtf.)
· Digital
· Ltd. Box Set

Tracklisting (CD/2LP):

Side A

  1. Show Me
  2. A Bit On The Side
  3. Sharp Shooter
  4. Portable Door

Side B

  1. Old-Fangled Thing
  2. If I Were You
  3. Pictures Of You
  4. I’m Saying Nothin’

Side C

  1. Lazy Sod
  2. Now You’re Talkin’
  3. No Money To Burn

Side D

  1. I’ll Catch You
  2. Bleeding Obvious

Tracklisting (DVD):

Disc 1: Audio Tracks 1– 13

Disc 2: Documentary’Access All Areas’ on DVD.
Subtitles: English, German, Spanish, French

=1 MORE TIME TOUR DATES

MONDAY 4TH NOV BIRMINGHAM RESORTS WORLD ARENA
WEDNESDAY 6TH NOV THE O2 LONDON
THURSDAY 7TH NOV LEEDS FIRST DIRECT ARENA
SATURDAY 9TH NOV MANCHESTER AO ARENA
SUNDAY 10th NOV GLASGOW OVO ARENA

Tickets are available at www.deeppurple.com

Click to Pre-order

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