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Purpendicular was a baptism of fire for the new-born Mark-VII, and results were surprisingly compelling. The excellent chemistry between Morse and Lord in particular made this Purple incarnation sound so fluid and refreshing, delivering songs of top-notch instrumental level, without eluding melody or at the same time, sharpness and aggression either. It’s Deep Purple, baby, these guys invented British sonic ferocity and double-bass velocity in the early-70’s. But unlike their compatriot peers, they’ve never been so close-minded and intolerant when it comes to taking risks and experimenting to some extent – exposing their classic, eclectic influences from funk to blues, 50’s rock ‘n’ roll or jazz. Ever since Morse joined them, the musical versatility of the group increased for good. However, Abandon puts bigger emphasis on heaviness than its predecessor, like usual from these guys, very intelligently.
Oh yeah, we got riffs here and not just the same series being stuck in song after song like others would do. We got sort of funky on the opening cut “Any Fule Kno That”, with that fresh groove and verses designed irresistibly with great sense of humor making it so tasteful; or on the contrary, a much heavier attempt, a pounding mid-tempo and weightier riffing on the subtly emotive “Almost Human” – both songs done with a lot of sentiment and heart but presenting a completely feel and mood. You see, it’s a very prolific album from the very beginning. Side-A actually incorporates some richer dynamics, structures of alternating tonality and pace on “Watching The Sky” specially, during which Morse and Lord’s choppy riffs fight a duel with Gillan’s sudden calmer verses on a truly unpredictable song-configuration. Riffs are the driving force on most sections, but not exclusively as the charming acoustic arrangements on “Seventh Heaven” or the stronger melodies and harmonies on “Fingers To The Bone” prove. The arranging is pretty meticulous and colorful on those 2 tunes, specially – Deep Purple prefer giving room to much more elements and assorted factors than just a couple of riffs. “Jack Ruby” and “She Was” might not be that musically diversified, yet as most tunes on side-B, they give more space to Lord and Morse to do more extensive solos and introduce dexterous arrangements and fills, fighting more of those spectacular shred duels without pushing away Gillan’s elegant vocals and recurrent choruses. They manage to make songs radio-friendly, though at the same time adding their trademark devotion for progression, instrumental accuracy and technicality – think of “’69”. Even though occasionally, synchronization and grace go off, on “Don’t Make Me Happy” more notably, on which the band gets a little stuck on blues stereotypes. Other times doing fillers like “Evil Louie”, which sounds pretty much like “The Purpendicular Waltz” – Part II.
Abandon is a much heavier album than Purpendicular for sure, the texture of Lord and Morse’s riffs is harsher than ever – Hammond vs. Music Man. But this is Deep Purple, so don’t expect them to knock out a couple of raw riffs and let everything else hanging on them. Song-writing is far from careless or lazy as usual, you just have to check the rigorous arranging, the quality and coherence of the dynamics and the distinction between song-bodies to realize how seriously these guys take it. A lot of alternative influences are coming into the picture during that process, ever since Blackmore left it seems classical/baroque values and chord progression have been replaced by more contemporary ways like funk and rhythm ‘n’ blues licks and more American rock principles. Yet that doesn’t mean Purple have gone soft, on the contrary – even though they strike a good balance between melodious sensitivity and British aggression on most of the album, they generally accent the roughness of riffs tightly. They manage to put together huge, crushing riffs and lyrical, slow-paced verses (on “Watching The Sky”, remarkably) and make them work out splendidly. Most definitely, it’s the great synchronization between Morse and Lord which makes this stuff so special and operational. Although during side-A, it may seem Lord prefers letting Morse take most pickin’ duties, again proving to be so humble, no egomaniac , despite of his much bigger experience. Nevertheless, they can both rely completely on the top-quality rhythm section Glover-Paice, which set the beat bases with absolute efficiency, with Ian introducing lots of percussive details and exalting fills. And the equation wouldn’t be complete of course, without Gillan’s class, charms and charisma, even though some of the lyrics he sings here get a little insipid and pointless.
There’s a high level of consistent quality on this album. As always, Deep Purple ain’t intending to repeat the same album twice. They went to a heavier route here, taking into consideration values from music subgenres besides metal and rock however, making the songs much more exciting, less one-dimensional and stereotypical than most veteran heavy metal bands at the time. Gillan & co. have always something different to offer, as you see not only on stage but in the studio as well, where there’s breath-taking progression, a reasonable dose of improvisation and total chemistry too. This would be also the last Purple studio album to feature legendary keyboardist and song-writer Jon Lord, one of the greatest musicians of British rock, the most inspirational keyboard player in the history of heavy metal – Rest In Peace, maestro (1941-2012).
Believe me, guys, I'm so actually certain about this. Mouth-out, the older members of the band said a million times "oh, Blackmore, yeah, but we just don't need him...he is gone, our shows were a roaring wreck with him with only 5000 people watching us, we were losing our popularity and blahblahblah...", but they were crying inside. They were lost and blind, with no life and no emotion.
No matter how hard Stevie Morse tried with two or three songs here like "Watching the Sky", "Almost Human", "Evil Louie" or even "Any Fule Kno That", riffing like hell with emotion and spirit. The guys behind him were just gone. They were in the mood of "Ritchie abandoned us, so we will abandon you too, young mate". And that's plainly the thing that happened here. I'll ramble upon this fact over and over again. There isn't just much to talk about this record. It's wrong doing, or weak doing, or bland doing, or gutless doing, that's all. Even the attempt to re-record "Bludsucker" is just something that proves how they were in the minds of "we need you, Ritchie, we long those early In Rock days..." without seeing that Stevie was able to replace, somehow, Blackmore.
Despite this, I repeat this: Stevie Morse deserves an applause, our appraise and love. He was alone, here, abandoned. He did his best: soloing, riffing a couple of magic ones, pushing the envelope the most he could, but nothing can help when he is alone. Nothing at all.
Watching the Sky, Almost Human and Evil Louie are the finest songs in here only because of Steve Morse. And that's it. One of the worst releases by DP ever.
After a lot of drama and the departure of original guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple managed to deliver a quite successful album in 1996 known as Purpendicular with their new guitarist Steve Morse. Whether its follow-up is a good album is hard to say. Abandon is a bit of a transition record, with still elements of hard rock to be found here, but with the laid back blues rock gaining the upper hand a little. I say a little here because it’s not as dominant as on 2003’s Bananas yet. This makes Abandon a good record, but quite far from memorable.
The whole band does seem to be in shape. Ian Paice’s drums sound very clear and powerful, Jon Lords Hammond sounds very clear, Roger Glovers bass sounds very solid and Steve Morse’s sound is really cool and his solos do impress me. It is Ian Gillan however who sometimes is to blame for a song to fail. Ever since the reunion of Deep Purple in 1984 his voice has been declining. Although at times he sounds clear and cool, on songs like “Almost Human” he really sounds hoarse and tired. His high notes are also not what they used to be and that really should encourage the man not to try and hit them anymore, like he does on Bananas. His vocal performance however is not so terrible that it ruins the entire album. The album starts with a very strong vocal performance, which decreases its strength halfway through though. “Any Fule Kno That” is a really cool opener with a powerful guitar riff and a powerful rap by our beloved Gillan, which he does quite cool. There are solos by both Lord and Morse and they really fit the song. This is a great and unique way to open the album. The fine line is continued for the next five songs. “Almost Human” will be noticed for its catchy chorus and “Don’t Make Me Happy” begins as a cliché blues song that reminds slightly of 70s Deep Purple, mainly due to Gillans vocals in the verses. In the chorus things will get back to the 90s and the whole results in some quality bluesy power ballad. This song is a very good one and definitely stands out, especially the solo. Then there is “Seventh Heaven” with its heavy riff featuring a pinch harmonic which is very unlike Deep Purple. This is one of the more rocking songs on this release but doesn’t really stand out, except for the solo which is being played on a very bluesy interpretation of the hard rock riff.
Then we are suddenly welcomed into “Watching the Sky” with a doomy Dio-esque intro, soon resolving into another bluesy hard rock riff. The verses are being reduced to a gentle ballad-ish part where Gillan uses his falsetto voice a little, and then they explode to the riff again to form the chorus. It doesn’t really stand out, just like “Seventh Heaven”, but it has got its moments, such as the “fury and madness”-part. Last of the enjoyable tracks on a row is “Fingers to the Bone” with a great guitar theme throughout combined with one of Gillans better performances on the album. This song almost has an epic feel to it; the themes on the verses and the chorus are so cool, and the piano solo adds the finishing touch. Now we’re at the end of the row we have a row of three songs before us that just radiate pure boredom with all of them being unoriginal, uninspiring and downright boring. They all have a laid back rhythm throughout, terrible vocals and such lameness. Those songs probably would’ve fit better on Bananas but I’m glad they’re not on there either since Bananas’ songs are still better than this. This is cliché blues to the bone without effort being put into them. It seems they needed some filler material; else this album would’ve been quite good. The titles are also so very uninspiring: “Jack Ruby”, “She Was” and “Whatsername”. Especially the last mentioned title seems really uninspired. I guess it’s songs like these that restrain newer Deep Purple albums from getting high rates nowadays. I mean, if you really want to create music like this then just do it right at once and create an entire album like this, like 2003’s Bananas.
The album ends quite stylish actually. “’69” is a fast-paced hard rocker with really good drumming and a powerful driving force throughout the song. It also has a really inventive solo part. Gillans voice is not too good on here, but at least not disturbing. Then there's “Evil Louie”. This song evidently fits with the three uninspired ones in style, but hey, this one actually has beauty! It starts off in the laid back rhythm like “Jack Ruby”, but somehow this one sounds much better. A good but simple riff, and just before the chorus we have a beautiful instrumental part with the guitar playing beautiful arpeggios. Then the chorus turns out much more powerful than something like “Whatsername”. It seems Deep Purple CAN still do it, but just don’t always have the inspiration. As a last treat Purple decided to re-record the classic song “Bloodsucker”, now entitled “Bludsucker”. This version sounds good and fits well on the album, but the original is a lot better for two reasons. The first is the most obvious: Gillans voice. He takes good care of the lower register part, but the “Oh no no no!” sounds just... not good. I must admit that he does still sound powerful here on his lower register though. The last verse is a bit spoiled, since he tried to imitate the original version where he goes sky high. The second reason is Steve Morse. I think it is very good that he plays his own solo and does not copy Blackmore’s solo, but in the end people want to compare. Where Morse is mostly showing his technical abilities here, shredding like hell, Blackmore used to rely more on his feel in the music rather than his technical abilities. Of course, it also differs on the type of guitarist, but my preference goes to Blackmore’s solo.
After this detailed look upon the album, I conclude that Abandon is a good album, but definitely not good enough. There are some nice songs, some songs sound even great, but there’s nothing truly magnificent. Nothing of the quality they used to have. There is also a disturbing amount of fillers on this album that drastically reduces my rating for Abandon, and makes me abandon this release. Overall, this album is good, but definitely not memorable, and perhaps even forgettable. I recommend this to Deep Purple fans, but if you are new with the band you should check out their Mark II stuff first.
Strongest tracks: “Don’t Make Me Happy”, “Fingers to the Bone” and “Evil Louie”.
Weakest tracks: “Jack Ruby” and “She Was”.