Review | Deep Purple – = 1


Although there were rumours that Deep Purple was to retire after their 2020 album ‘Whoosh!’, or at least were embarking on their last tour, here we are in 2024 listening to a brand-new release with a bit of a strange title if you ask me. Still, the fact that guitarist Steve Morse said ‘au revoir’ to his band mates somewhere in 2022 to look after his sick wife did not stop the veterans Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, and Don Airey. The four lads brough in guitarist Simon McBride (Snake Charmer/Sweet Savage), an experienced musician from Northern Ireland, yet some 25 years younger than the rest of Deep Purple. But hey, a bit of young blood can give the oldies a new boost, an extra kick up the bum and that is exactly what has happened here.


‘= 1’ has a bit of a different sound. Sure, the singing of Gillan is recognisable, as is the playing of keyboardist Don Airey, while Glover and Paice are as steady as always, but McBride is a different player in comparison with Steve Morse, the man who had that ‘certain’ tone and style that he brought to Deep Purple. McBride plays heavier it seems on this album. Because of that the band sounds more direct and certainly more to the point, also because the bulk of the songs clock between three and four minutes with only a few exceptions such as album closer ,,Bleeding Obvious’’ and ,,If I Were You’’.


As has been the case for the last albums Deep Purple renewed their liaison with experienced producer Bob Ezrin co-directing the band into a heavier approach. Yet there is plenty of interaction going on between McBride and Airey, some duels, some solo spots for McBride as well as Airey. It is not that McBride just walked into the band being unknown to his new mates. He had worked before with Airey and, also with Gillan so getting McBride into the band was not such a big risk as they knew what he could do. And he has added more firepower as an extra bonus.


Fans of the old days of Deep Purple do not have to be afraid that the new line-up has changed direction too much. They are still Deep Purple through and through as songs such as the jumpy yet forceful opener ,,Show Me’’, ,,A Bit On The Site’’, ,,Sharp Shooter’’, ,,Portable Door’’ or ,,Lazy Sod’’ (with a superb Airey solo) prove. The playfulness that marked earlier albums such as ‘Whoosh!’ and ‘Infinite’ and even the cover album ‘Turning To Crime’ is also present on this album, yet it is slightly heavier and more to the point as the band brings their message across in shorter songs. With Simon McBride Deep Purple is entering another phase in their career and I am very sure that retirement is not on anybody’s mind just yet, especially when you hear Ian Gillan still sounding good and confident.

Release date: 19 July 2024



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