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When Deep Purple lost its shade after “Come Taste the Band”; it was the perfect time for the band to end. The Mark IV lineup with new guitarist Tommy Bolin provided an album that didn’t live up to the Deep Purple name with the simplified songs and a huge blues influence. By 1984, the stars had aligned for the famed Mark II lineup to comeback. Ian Gillan had just finished his stint with Black Sabbath and Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow had reached the end of the spectrum. Bassist Roger Glover, master of the ivories Jon Lord, and drummer Ian Paice were all back on board to give the fans what they craved; the Mark II lineup back in action.
The boys do not disappoint either delivering a great dose of hard rocking tunes and Blackmore once again regaining his edge after some poppy Rainbow albums. Songs like “Knockin’ at Your Back Door” and the well-known title track will stick in your head for days. Blackmore shows his knack for writing memorable riffs and to highlight a solo with the former and the title track is a great piece of songwriting with an awesome keyboard intro and a soulful vocal performance by Gillen.
There are no tricks or venturing of the purple mark on this record as any listener can tell how the guys were rejuvenated and genuinely happy being back together again. The neoclassical meanderings of “Hungry Daze” and the up-tempo, keyboard driven “Gypsy’s Kiss” are reminders of just how good these musicians are and the music they create. My version also has “Not Responsible” which reminds me of “A Light in the Black” from the famed Rainbow “Rising” album and that certainly is not a bad thing.
The only misstep is the ballad “Wasted Sunsets.” While I adore Blackmore’s guitar performance, the songs does not fit in with the rest of the album and breaks up the rocking, no-holds-barred pacing that was carrying on. The song is also not that good and the least memorable. Some flack is also given to “Mean Streak” for the lame chorus, but that is more of a minor quip than anything.
“Perfect Strangers” is the definitive example of a comeback album not being a failure. In fact, this is one of the best Purple releases. The songs are full of inspiring writing, memorable songs, and the formidable tandem of Lord and Blackmore dueling with the keyboard and guitar. “Knockin’ at Your Back Door” and the title track will keep you coming back for more because this is how a comeback should be.