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It was inevitable that, for how long Deep Purple had been going on for, that they would have a serious dip in quality as opposed to the small disappointments like 'Who Do We Think We Are', 'Come Taste The Band', and 'The House Of Blue Light'. Though this was to be expected with the direction that they were going in, 'Slaves And Masters' is atrocious. Imagine 'Perfect Strangers' without any of the positive aspects and here is what you get. Mark V Deep Purple doesn't tend to be talked about that often, and you can see why.
This is partly due to the inclusion of Joe Lynn Turner to Deep Purple, making for a Rainbow-ish sound, except not the phenomenal metal version of them with Dio, but the bland, glammy mediocrity that was JLT's incarnation. He didn't work with Rainbow, so why is he in Deep Purple? He sounds like Bon Jovi for God's sake! Yes he is technically talented, but there is no distinguishing between him and millions of glam vocalists.
However, it would be unfair to spend the entire review bashing Joe Lynn Turner, as bad as he is, so lets get to the songwriting...
Oh wait, there is none! The entire album is spent by reveling in glam/hair metal cliches which would make even die-hard fans of Deep Purple cringe in disbelief. Well, that isn't entirely true; 'The Cut Runs Deep' has around a minute and a half of good music (the intro and the solo three minutes in), which is still poor given its length of five and a half minutes. Oh yeah, all the songs are way too long, with 'Wicked Ways' lasting an agonizing six and a half minutes despite essentially being two completely different songs; one being a boring glam rocker and the other being the other two minutes of good music, with the main synth line actually being okay and being played behind a great solo. So that's three and a half minutes of positivity out of a possible forty six and a half. Ouch. And what's with people giving 'King Of Dreams' a pass? It has exactly the same flaws the rest and is probably cheesier given the pseudo-epic introduction and the similarities to 'Livin' On a Prayer'.
The musicians behind this may as well be anyone apart from the said three and a half minutes that are actually worthy to be bear the Deep Purple name; Ritchie's lost his riffs, Jon is dull, Glover is barely there, and Ian drumming is mechanical.
So what we've got here is a band that has become a shell of their former selves, showing a total lack of imagination, creativity, or effort from the four members present from the last two albums. And I didn't even mention the worst song, 'Love Conquers All'! That should tell you how devoid of merit 'Slaves And Masters' is.
That album cover is one of the worst I've ever seen in my entire life. And, you know, I've seen lots...
I promised myself not to write a review about this album, the harassed and bullied "Slaves and Masters". But I couldn't resist myself and here you got me, bashing the worst release of one of my top-3 favourite bands in heavy metal. Yeah, I did say "the worst" and it is the worst one, forget about Bolin's tragical death after "Come Taste the Band", ancient hippie oriented psychedelia in the late 60's with hit singles like "Hush". Let go the idea that, since Purpendicular, Deep Purple released a succesion of bad records, cause that's not entirely true (Bananas and Rapture of the Deep are respectable, though distant from those magic grooves made by the MK II and some portions of Coverdale/Hughes era). This one, no other but this one, is THE VERY VERY WORST album by DP.
I mean, here you can find a song with the devious and terrible title "Love Conquers All". Even for that australian duo Air Supply, those guys singing extremely pink and mellow cursi love songs would be embarassed to put this on a track. But, hey, DP did it, as they created heavy metal, they made the finest metal album ever and stuff. You know, Ritchie, my dear one, the only moment in my entire life when I said "Blackmore Sucks" was, precisely, after listening to this. Because we are all quite aware that this record was a whim of yours, and the good guys, Lord, Glover, Paice and Turner did their best, as they are very talented, to make this thing work... But, you know, Blackmore is a human after all...
I've been mistreated! I've been abused!
Believe me, darling, that's exactly what happens when every fan of heavy metal or Deep Purple, most particularly, listens to this. The fan starts to scream loud "I've been mistreated, I've been abused" and it comes from the bottom of the heart. It actually happens, give it a try. This thing is truly painful and you got no choice but to remember better times.
Even if we forget that this was made by Deep Purple and we think it was crafted by Foreigner, White Lion or even, to get even worst, Celine Dion, the content here sucks so much that it makes you believe that Dio's stomach adenocarcinoma started to grow right after he listened to this. I bet *insert ammount of money here* of dollars that you can't find some lyrics more stupid and dramatically mellow, cliché and oriented as the ones you get in "Fire in the Basement". Mix that with a weak and uninspired melody and there you get an example of how bad this thing is.
"You've got it bad, you're hopelessly addicted
You're always searching for the cure
Love is the crime, you stand convicted
You keep on coming back for more" ("Too Much is not Enough" - Fragment)
Mein gott!! Read that?? Am I getting clear enough to explain how lame this have got?? Add to those lyrics some gutless and flat rythmical lines and melodies and you will understand. It Is not bad to talk about love, mind you. The bad thing is to do it in this pathetic way. What happened with Deep Purple, those five guys in that live album "Made in Japan", filled with heavy metal power?? What happened with Ritchie Blackmore, the guy who smashed cameras, exploded equipment during massive live shows without giving a fuck about anything while he was fretting his guitar like no one else in this world ever did, does or will do. That guy here is posessed by a dark spirit (the same one who owns him now in Blackmore's Night, but with a little more dignity) and perhaps is even reflected in the cover picture. No doubt that spirit has the shape of a woman.
Maybe the formula is not that bad with a couple of songs, like "Fortuneteller" or "King of Dreams", pieces where the band remembers its real identity as metal (or hard rock, in this case) gods and throw us a couple of enjoyable songs ala AOR, like JLT Rainbow era (which is just slightly inferior to Dio's era of early epic power metal, in some places), with not so silly lyrics and some nice additions in the instrumentation, most of them by Maestro Lord. Link to these ones "The Cut Runs Deep", which contains the only riff to be remembered by Ritchie in this album (a good one, by the way) with some intrincate keyboarding lines and ballsy beats and, there you go, a good track (not excellent, good). Joe Lynn Turner does what he can but we all know he was not suitable for the job. And that's all we can say about him in this review, period.
And then, simply, there is nothing and I mean nothing to be highlighted here in the rest of this album. It is wrongdoing at maximum of the expressions. A non-suited vocalist with a terrible art cover and pathetic lyrics with no sense of creative music and there you go: "Slaves and Masters", a vomit by Blackmore, cause he can puke as well as every mortal does. For some fragments of "Fortuneteller" and "King of Dreams" and the riff and keyboarding at "The Cut Runs Deep", I give to this album 10 points. Because it is Deep Purple, they got some 20 extra points. And one extra point for actually recording some of the most pathetic lines ever sung in the rock world ("Love Conquers All" et al.). That should recieve some credit too.
Get away from this thing.
After the famed Mark II lineup of Deep Purple came back together, all felt right again and they delivered an all-time classic in “Perfect Strangers.” Grand record sales and a successful tour ensued and they churned another album, but this time a bit uneven in “The House of Blue Light.” Throughout that time, vocalist Ian Gillan and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore decided they didn’t like each other again and now it was time for another incarnation of Deep Purple. Gillan was out and Blackmore turned to the guy he hired to bring his other band Rainbow commercial success, Joe Lynn Turner. Essentially, this was now a band mixed like a pack of Skittles. Bassist Roger Glover also played with Rainbow as Ian Paice and Jon Lord were the only members not to ride the spectrum.
In essence, this album is a mix of material that could be found on the last albums of Rainbow and also songs that still fight with the Deep Purple spirit. The opener “King of Dreams” has thumping keyboards and mystical guitars that suit Turner’s voice perfectly. In fact, Turner puts some of the strongest performances on this album.
Turner receives some unfair criticism at times about his voice and while he can croon with the best of them, he knows when to insert attitude and enhance the songs. “Fire in the Basement” has the blend of attitude and sharp singing that is also one of the stronger cuts on the album. “Truth Hurts” has Turner oozing emotion that is a combination of one of Purple’s best songs from the David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes years in “Mistreated” and Rainbow’s “Can’t Let You Go.” The team of Turner and the melancholic rhythm sparked by the bass and keyboard make for a great song.
Musically, Blackmore shows bite with his guitar work on the closer “Wicked Ways” with a driving rhythm and a nice touch of the violin sprinkled in to deliver a more striking gesture. “The Cut Runs Deep” did not connect with me the first couple times I listened to it, mostly because of the awful sounding voice shouting “the cut runs deep.” Otherwise, the guitar effects and the drumming make it a winner. “Fortuneteller” has a brooding, mysterious atmosphere about a lady who wields the cards of the future. The bombast of the chorus and the string of keyboard notes further add to the aura and is a very memorable song.
It’s unfortunate that all the songs could not be as good as “Breakfast in Bed” tries to sound like “Lazy” in the beginning with the keyboard, but quickly devolves into an inoffensive, AOR that is rather underwhelming. However, when “Love Conquers All” hits, I found myself in a true face-palm moment. Deep Purple doing a power ballad? Say it ain’t so. Deep Purple is much better than this and for them to try to hop on that train for more success is pathetic. Needless to say, the song is super cheesy and super sucks. The last bit of badness arrives in the form of the commercial, poppy “Too Much is not Enough.” It sounds like a Rainbow reject and I had enough after one listen.
“Slaves and Masters” is a solid Deep Purple album and Turner provides energy to a band that lost some spark with the last effort “The House of Blue Light.” I can’t see Gillan singing the material on the album, let alone the power ballad, but that’s a good aspect as Turner was not forced to sing something that may not have been comfortable for him. “Wicked Ways”, “Fortuneteller” and “Fire in the Basement” provide incentives for repeated listens and enjoy yet another version of Deep Purple.
This isn’t a bad release at all. In my opinion, it’s just the opposite: one of the finest Deep Purple moments and albums. Specially because it gave us the chance to enjoy another new line up in the band (another “Mark” in Purple words). And that’s one of the things that make this band special, the several different sounds, productions and musicians. Also “Slaves And Masters” meant the last studio performance of Ritchie Blackmore and Joe Lynn Turner together, before their serious disagreements.
“Slaves And Masters” begins with a great track, which became a Purple classic, and that can’t be missed on any band’s compilation: “King Of Dreams”. It features a catchy sound and commercial vocals, but anyway, that doesn’t affect the final result. The sound of the following tracks, “The Cut Runs Deep”, “Fire In The Basement” or “Breakfast In Bed” isn’t similar to 80’s Rainbow or Deep Purple former works. It’s a raw new sound, filled with the sort and glamour of Turner’s vocals, Jon Lord’s virtuous and baroque keyboards and, obviously, the essential contribution of Blackmore’s guitar. “Love Conquers All” is probably the best piece of “Slaves And Masters” and the finest Purple ballad, from the few they have, along with “Soldier Of Fortune” and “When A Blind Man Cries”.
So, in my opinion, the problem with this album is the notorious fame it has between the most hardcore and die-hard metal Purple fans, who simply don’t pay much attention, unfortunately, on it. The music is just excellent, honest and, for me, unsurpassable. I definitively recommend it.
"Slaves and Masters" is the only studio album (thankfully) to feature ex-Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, who Ritchie Blackmore bought into the band against the wishes of the other bandmembers. As Blackmore and bassist Roger Glover were also members of Rainbow this albums sounds like (what'd you expect?) Turner-era Rainbow. That means it sounds less-heavy and more AOR radio-friendly than Purple's best albums.
There is not a single song on this album which doesn't sound like Rainbow. Album single "King of Dreams," "Fire in the Basement," and "Fortuneteller" particularly fall into this category. "Love Conquers All" is a sappy ballad. "Breakfast in Bed" is weak and poppy. There aren't really any standout tracks on this record, but the heavier ones would be "King of Dreams" and "The Cut Runs Deep." There's no lack of musical ability on the part of the bandmembers, but (how many times must I say it?) this doesn't sound like Deep Purple!
This is a stylistic misstep and a confusing record which deviates greatly from the classic Deep Purple sound. Fans of latter-day Rainbow or Joe Lynn Turner might enjoy this, but for longtime Purple fans or anyone new to the music of this legendary band, "Slaves and Masters" is the one album which should be overlooked.