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Deep Purple were one of the most influential metal and rock bands of all time. Their influence can be found far and wide the metal community. Most notably, Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Ritchie Blackmore pioneered a guitar playing style that was foreign to the listener. Ritchie, along with the other members of Deep Purple have influenced a generation of musicians.
Everything changed when the Mark II lineup (Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice and Jon Lord ) broke up after the release of the album "Who do We think We Are!" in 1973. A couple of solid albums followed with David Coverdale on vocals and Glenn Hughes on bass. Albums like "Burn" and "Stormbringer" which are brilliant were soon released with this new lineup. Once again, there were line up changes. Ritchie Blackmore left the group to pursue a solo career. "Come Taste The Band" was released in 1975 to much appreciation by the fans. This album would be last with the Deep Purple name on it for almost ten years.
The year was 1984, it was a great year for metal. Judas Priest's "Defenders Of The Faith", Iron Maiden's "Powerslave" and Metallica's "Ride The Lightning" were all released. There was another brilliant album that came out that year. It was the first Deep Purple album in almost ten years and the first from the Mark II lineup in over ten years. Would "Perfect Strangers" live up tp the hype or would it fizzle under the pressure?
The opener is an instant classic. "Knocking At Your Backdoor", one of the longest Deep Purple studio songs and it kicks this album off with a bang. This song is an instant and joins others at that level like "Mistreated", "Highway Star" and "Demon's Eye". This classic starts off with a great keyboard and guitar intro. When the action finally begins, Ian Gillan proves that he hadn't lost anything. He belts out some great lyrics and hits the high notes ("It's not the kill, It's the thrill of the c-h-aaaaaaaaaa-s-e"). This song has one hell of a catchy chorus. Ritchie Blackmore provides a Godly solo that starts a little after the 3:40 mark. "Knocking At Your Backdoor" might be a seven minute epic but when it's finally over the listener will be asking themselves where did the time go because this solid tune doesn't feel long. The last ninety seconds or so is an instrumental jam to conclude this phenomenal journey.
Next up, we have "Under The Gun". This song isn't as classic as the opening track but it is still mighty fine. "Under The Gun" starts off with an aggressive introduction then kicks into high gear with Ian Gillan coming in and providing some beautiful vocals. Again, like the first song and for many others Ritchie Blackmore is a God on the guitar and kicks the listeners asses by giving a solo like no other.
"Nobody's Home" is next on deck and this track doesn't let anyone down. Jon Lord provides a spacey keyboard intro. This reminds us all of the glory days of Deep Purple with the splendid keyboard work by the master, Mr. Lord. This intro lasts for about fifteen seconds then all hell breaks loose. "Nobody's Home", like "Knocking At Your Backdoor" has a very catchy chorus and will stay in your head for days. This is not a bad thing. Ritchie plays well but John Lord steals the show with a superb keyboard solo two minutes in.
"Mean Streak" is next. This tune is right to the point. No keyboard, drum or guitar intro. This is a good thing because a few songs have intros and you don't want repetition. "Mean Streak" slows the pace down a little after the non stop action from the previous songs. Ritchie shows that he didn't lose anything while in Rainbow and gives us some good guitar work. "Mean Streak" finishes with a little keyboard outro.
"Perfect Strangers". What can I say about this song that hasn't already been said? Along with "Knocking At Your Backdoor", "Perfect Strangers" is an instant classic and fan favourite. In twenty years, when people are thinking about the songs that defined Deep Purple's career, there will be songs like "Hush", "Smoke on the Water", "Pictures of Home" and "Woman From Tokyo" but "Perfect Strangers" and "Knocking At Your Backdoor" will get the same recognition. John Lord provides a great keyboard intro to get this song started. This song has a good feel to it and Ian Paice does a tremendous job on the drums. Ritchie Blackmore teases your ear with a killer riff that just won't quit. Ian Gillan does some great vocal work on this track. At the four minute mark this song truly explodes into greatness with a simple but elegant jam to finish this classic.
"A Gypsy's Kiss" follows the title track and continues the trend of greatness. This track starts off with a full head of steam. The presence of John Lord and Ritchie Blackmore is exquisite with a brilliantly simple but mesmerizing drum beat from the main man on the kit, Ian Paice. At one point, this songs plays like it was written by a regular power metal band. After listening to this, trying to explain that Deep Purple didn't have much of an influence is futile. This is one of the best songs off of this album. A must for all fans and for people researching the roots of metal. The guitar and keyboard work could not be better and if it was it would be illegal.
"Wasted Sunsets" is next and is the obligatory ballad. I'm not complaining because Deep Purple know how to do ballads. Ian Gillan sings with emotion and it comes out beautifully. Not much to say about this song except that is some great lyrics and a fine guitar solo.
"Hungry Daze", wow! This tune came from nowhere. Like the other reviewer said, this song has the feel of "(We Are) The Road Crew" and other songs of that nature. The lyrics are enjoyable as it is a retrospective of a holy career. Ian Paice starts things off with a blistering drum beat. Then the song turns into some sort of neo classical piece. This is for sure the dark horse of the album. Again, a great guitar solo which makes a good song even better.
Now depending on the version of "Perfect Strangers" that you have or are planing to buy, there are the possibility of two bonus tracks. "Not Responsible" and "Son of Alerik". The first of the two is typical 1970s Deep Purple song. There is nothing outstanding about this song but it only solidifies this album. "Son of Alerik" is an epic for the ages. This ten minute instrumental is definitely not for the weak of heart. This song brings us back to the epic days "Child in Time" and other great songs. This instrumental jam brings out the best in everyone. It's a shame that not everyone might have access to this track.
In conclusion, "Perfect Strangers" is one of the best reunion albums on the market. Deep Purple lived up to all the hype and expectations. The Mark II lineup shows us its dominance and leaves us wanting more. This album is filled with great tracks but especially the two classics, one being the title track and the other the opening song. This album is recommended not only to the die hards who were dying of joy when the reunion took place in'84 but for all casual fans and metal/hard rock fans in general. Depending on the version of the album that is available, some might miss out on two tracks. If this happens, download these songs so you can experience this album in its entirety.