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“Turbo”, “Hammered”, “Forbidden”, “Load”, “Virtual XI”… Almost all of the metal gods had their uninspired moments… And the Deep Purple’s stumble is called “Bananas”.
In fact, this album is very poor in coherence. There are very despicable and forgettable tracks (“Haunted” and “Never a word”) and others that could be classic works (“Sun Goes Down”, “Silver Tongue”, “Walk On”, “Bananas” and “Contact Lost”). To give a real idea of this fact, the negative and positive prominences will be shortly described.
The Purple’s misleading first: “Haunted” is the lower point in this album. It’s a dispensable and commercial ballad. The only thing profitable in this track is the praiseworthy Guillan’s vocal work. Ian Guillan, in fact, is more technical yet, but less daring. Where are the falsettos in high tones? In the rest of the song, there’s still irritating feminine backing vocals… It seems Gospel music!
“Never a Word”… Well… Well, the keyboard intro with organ timbre is epic… And nothing more. There’s country music here. A disastrous moment in the Purple’s career. It’s a very good song… For the Beatles
The other sad error is called “Doing It Tonight”. It’s a very, very strange song (it remembers James Brown sometimes!). It alternates despicable moments and a little more inspired passages. It has a good guitar solo, but the backing vocals singing “yeah, yeah” transform the music in an awful thing. It’s just another misleading.
Now the songs that don't allow the disc to be a total disaster: “Sun Goes Down” is a dragged song, wrapped up in heaviness. Great guitar riffs! Great guitar solo! There’s an exciting part when the vocal is alternated with the guitar, and Guillan sings over the drums and bass only, during the guitar silence, ‘till the next guitar entrance… It’s fantastic!
“Silver Tongue” is the heaviest one. Tremendous guitar intro and too much heaviness. Its riffs show the best Morse’s technique: the alternate picking. It’s heavy metal!
Then the bluesy “Walk On”. It’s a heavy but sad song, almost a ballad. The chorus has a perfect insertion, and the arrangement is very rich and consistent, with a great work by Roger Glover and Don Airey. The track-title “Bananas” is an excellent song. It could be a classic. The duel between guitar and keyboards is brilliant! It’s an inspiration island lost among a lot of “more or less” songs.
It’s mandatory to do a special mention to the last track. “Contact Lost” is a short instrumental act, some of the more beautiful seconds of Deep Purple’s composition. It begins with a long and emotive distorted guitar solo, changing to a set of classical harp-like guitars and keyboards, with a soft medieval touch. At least in the end…
The songs that complete the set-list of the album are just the usual hard’n’heavy of almost 40 years, however more hard than heavy in this album and without the brightness from other times.
Another point to consider is the quality fall of the Morse’s work. He’s elaborating very good riffs, but not how he did in albums like “Purpendicular”, for example, and the guitar solos are very shy and short, ignoring the virtuosi and choosing to hide behind pragmatic scales. There’s more keyboard solos than guitar solos in this album.
The lyrical part brings no surprises. It’s the Purple’s classic thematic: women, rock’n’roll, love, life experiences and internal struggles. There’s a lack of the bright of Deep Purple here too. There are, however, interesting things in some songs like “Picture of Innocence”, “Bananas” and “Walk On”, that just says: “If you don’t like what you see/If you can do better than me/Walk on”. This says just a little but says everything.
In overall lines, “Bananas” is just one more album of a great band that will not be a classic but will sell millions of copies. It’s very difficult to criticize a band as Deep Purple, but its grandiose and masterpieces-replete past does us hope much more than this. For the time being, it’s better listen to “In Rock”, “Made in Japan”, “Machine Head” and “Perfect Strangers” and take out bananas from the menu.