In what has already been an unpredictable year rock legends Deep Purple have added to the wild mix with the release of their 21st studio album Whoosh! (7 August 2020; earMUSIC). And, thankfully, the band have produced another superb offering full of variety, catchy melodies, and great riffs. But it’s even more than that… it’s a lot of fun!
Evidence of that can be found in one of the video releases for the new album, which features a spaceman walking around ‘lost on earth’, watching bemused as a space rocket takes off in the distance, and finally disintegrating into the image that forms the album’s front cover.
Another clue to the humour behind the album is provided by the lead singer’s explanation for the title: “’Whoosh’ is an onomatopoeic word that, when viewed through one end of a radio-telescope, describes the transient nature of humanity on Earth; and, through the other end from a closer perspective, illustrates the career of Deep Purple,” says Ian Gillan.
Four of the five band members are now in their 70s - in fact at 66, guitarist Steve Morse is the ‘baby’ – but you would never know it. The quality and depth of Ian Gillan’s vocals are matched by the powerful rhythm section of Roger Glover and Ian Paice, and Don Airey’s Hammond A-100. The album has again been produced by legend Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Kiss), who has helped the band make a classic 1970’s Deep Purple record that also pushes boundaries and feels fresh.
The ‘Mark VIII lineup’ kicks off the album with the single Throw My Bones, which contains several soaring guitar hooks, presumably from Morse’s famous Frankentele, which according to one commentator is “worthy of being played shirtless on a stormy clifftop.” The expected solid rhythm section is supported by orchestral strings and topped off by Gillan’s powerful vocals. More wonderful guitar soloing features on the next track, Drop The Weapon, this time matched by Airey’s fine touch on his Hammond organ. The lyrics also provide gravitas, in the form of a plea to halt gun and knife violence.
Nothing At All is another top song that creates a wonderful ambiance. It is in many ways a timeless power rock ballad, with a catchy melody and fine vocals. The Long Way Round, on the other hand, is heavy and anthemic and one can imagine its chorus being chanted in stadiums.
Step By Step is a fascinating song because it is different to anything else on the album. It appears simple, but contains some lovely harmonies by the lead singer, who manages to create an eerie, almost ominous, atmosphere. The piano-driven boogie-style What The What provides another contrast but the album’s change of direction here is perhaps less welcome than in other places.
Much stronger is the funky track The Power Of The Moon, which features outstanding musicianship, as does Remission Possible. The second single release, Man Alive, is over five minutes long, and again creates a wonderful atmosphere with both the music and the lyrics. The spaceman/alienation theme returns in the video, which features a wry nod to Stanley Kubrik’s 2001; A Space Odyssey at the end.
The album closes with an instrumental version of And The Address, (which originally featured on Deep Purple’s 1968 debut Shades of Deep Purple), and Dancing In My Sleep, which provides an appropriately wild but fun ending.
Deep Purple have produced another great album, which will satisfy die-hard fans but is also full of surprises. There is little to be added but Whoosh! Blast Off! - they’ve done it again!