Since I’m doing a long haul every day in to work, I needed to get some new tunes for the trip. I am thrilled that I treated myself to Deep Purple’s latest studio disc, “Now What?!”. I loved “Purpendicular”, enjoyed “Abandon”, but was disappointed by “Bananas.” “Rapture of the Deep” let me know that “Bananas” was a slight mis-step, but I still wasn’t 100% satisfied with it as a put it on and leave it on disc, the way I felt about the best DP offerings. Happily, “Now What?!” returns to that set-it-and-forget-it level of quality. I can put it on and relax, knowing full well that every track hits on all cylinders.
There were times listening to it when I thought it sounded like a Yes album or a Pink Floyd set. It’s Deep Purple through and through, but they band has chosen 2013 as the year to really open up on their progressive side. I’m not complaining: I think the result is marvelous. But if you’re looking for the straight-no-chaser rock and roll of “Machine Head” or the MkIII lineup, this is not the album you’re looking for. If you enjoyed the more introspective and moody tracks from “Fireball” and “Who Do We Think We Are!”, then this is the one for you.
Lyrically, the disc has many dark moments – comments on current financial practices providing the fuel for those statements. “Blood From a Stone” pulls no punches and “Uncommon Man” is filled with acid. “Hell to Pay” is a chorus rocker from 1983 that manages to fit in well with the progressive mix on the rest of the album. How did they do that? And “Vincent Price” is straight out of The Damned’s goth playbook, but, again, it fits masterfully. These gramps with amps certainly remember how to craft a great hard rock album with richness of content that keeps a listener coming back for more. I may still pick and choose from the last two of their studio offerings, but I really think I got this lineup’s best efforts since “Purpendicular” on these tracks.
If you like classic rock, but are tired of the same thing over and over on the radio, then get this disc and get into some great tracks that should be all over the airwaves. That they are not has more to do with robot-generated playlists and MTV not showing videos than the merit of the songs themselves. I don’t know how many more albums Deep Purple has left in them, but I’m glad they got this one out. 10 out of 10 on this one, because I like DP with prog flourishes.