.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/61119709f7bf74b2920dbb1582e31f882e1fab13.jpg Perfect Strangers

Deep Purple

Perfect Strangers

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 2 0
February 28, 1985

The title track comes blasting out of nowhere, like an I'm-alive-and-well message from an old friend you'd given up for dead. With its steamy vocal and genuine, if uncharacteristic, touches of wit throbbing above Deep Purple's heavy signature sound, "Perfect Strangers" sets the tone for this venerable band's reunion album. Lead singer Ian Gillan — who's never been in finer, and deeper, throat — sinuously glides into lyrics that suggest these veterans have something to say about where they've been in the last few years ("Can you remember, remember my name ... I am the echo of your past") and have lots more to offer in the future. For a moment, you almost wonder why Purple ever faded away in the first place. Until, that is, you hear the rest of the album.

Excepting the title cut and the rambunctious but less effective "Knocking at Your Back Door," the material consists of hastily knocked-off jams that allow guitar demigod Ritchie Blackmore to whip out his finger exercises in public. The band spent about six to eight weeks recording this comeback. (The current lineup is actually neither the original nor the final Deep Purple but the most successful — of "Smoke on the Water" fame.) It doesn't sound as if they spent much more time thinking about it, either.

Blackmore's Strat has such a great roar that you're willing to just let it reverberate in your eardrums for a bit. And it's nice to hear Jon Lord's unsynthesized organ squalls, Ian Paice's meaty pounding, Gillan's howls and whispers and Roger Glover's solid bass lines once again. Eventually, though, it's "enough of the sound check already — where are the songs?" Instead of Glover, an outside producer might have forced the band to tighten up its licks and arrangements. Then again, did Deep Purple ever have more than one or two really good, concise numbers on an album? Maybe they're just making the kind of record they always did, the only kind they know how to make.

So why are they doing this? To cash in on the current heavy-metal craze, in which dozens of young upstarts are making fortunes playing Purple riffs? Following a recent meet-the-press shebang promoting the album and impending world tour, the band members (minus the temperamental Blackmore, who, true to his "enigmage," didn't show) insisted they don't need the dough. Perhaps the answer lies in "Wasted Sunsets," a portrait of an aging rock star who's got "gold and silver for the blues" but nothing to do except drink the nights away. It's nice that Perfect Strangers got the Purples out of their respective mansions; too bad they didn't venture farther from home.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bird on a Wire”

    Leonard Cohen | 1969

    While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com