Review: An Odd Shade to the Color Purple

Deep Purple/Turning To Crime/E-A-R Music/Edel 
2.5 Out of Five Stars

At first glance, the new opus from prototypical hard rockers Deep Purple would seem to suggest it’s more or less a predictability proposition. It boasts the classic DP lineup, consisting of veteran vocalist Ian Gillian, longtime bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice, and the more recent recruits Don Airey on keyboards and Steve Morse on guitar. The title itself, Turning To Crime, rekindles echoes of the band’s usual insurgent stance, as reinforced by previous albums bearing the names Who Do We Think We Are, Burn, Stormbringer, Machine Head, and Perfect Strangers, all of which implied they had an outlaw-like attitude.

Nevertheless, that’s as far as the familiarity factor weighs in, at least in terms of those initial expectations. Turning To Crime finds the group turning to one of today’s well-trod strategies, that is, to cover some classics while attempting to reinvent them in the band’s signature style. Consequently, it finds Purple turning their attention to a decidedly varied set of songs, all of which are perennial standards.

In that regard, they’re of a vintage variety, ranging the oldies goldies like “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” written by Huey “Piano” Smith, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels’ “Jenny Takes a Ride,” and Ray Charles’ rollicking “Let the Good Times Roll,” through to seminal staples such as Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken,” Cream’s “White Room,” the Yardbirds’ “Shapes of Things,” Fleetwood Mac/Peter Green’s “Oh Well,” and the song that starts the set, a blistering version of Arthur Lee and Love’s “7 and 7 Is.”

To top it all off, they cap the album with a mostly instrumental medley that combines “Going Down,” “Green Onions,” “Hot ‘Lanta,” “Dazed and Confused,” and “Gimme Some Lovin’.”

At this point, one might conclude that Deep Purple are either content to turn themselves into a cover band, simply taking a breather prior to their next set of original offerings, or are merely finding themselves bankrupt as far as any new ideas of their own are concerned. Granted, they share each piece with their blustery trademark style, but even so, hearing Deep Purple cover a slice of archetypical Americana like “Battle of New Orleans” seems rather ludicrous. Bob Seger’s otherwise obscure “Lucifer” comes closest to fitting the bill, but aside from that, one has to wonder why they chose to revisit any of those other offerings.

Ultimately, those that are somewhat cynical might suggest that the album title is, in fact, all too apt.

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