by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew
Now let’s get this right up front, I do not care how old
these guys are; how relevant they are to today’s music; or what right they
have to the name of Deep Purple. Nor do I care that Bananas is a wonderfully
stupid name to call a Rock ‘n’ Roll album. Rock ‘n’ Roll is supposed to
be fun. Where would it be without humor? (Frank Zappa was a serious musician
with a wonderful sense of humor.)
Bananas is a great Hard Rock album by a bunch of top
musicians. Deep Purple have been going since 1968 with a break from 1976-1984,
during which there was not an actual band called Deep Purple in circulation. So,
depending your point of view the band is either celebrating their 27th
anniversary, or the 35th. If you do not count the mountains of live albums and
compilations, this is their seventeenth studio album. Confused yet? You soon
Bananas is the first release of new material in five years
and the first Deep Purple album not to feature the talents of Jon Lord on
keyboards, who retired from the band (but not music) last year to make way for
Don Airey. This is Airey’s first studio outing with the band, and very
admirably he does, too. It is lead guitarist Steve Morse’s third studio album
with Purple, and lead vocalist Ian Gillan’s tenth. Bassist Roger Glover counts
it as his eleventh, and sitting behind the drums for his seventeenth Deep Purple
album is one of the world’s finest Rock ‘n’ Roll drummers, Mr. Ian Paice.
He has also played drums at every Deep Purple show that has taken place. When
Deep Purple was on a sabbatical from 1976-1984, Ian Paice kept his hand in by
drumming for P.A.L., Whitesnake (both of whom featured Jon Lord), and Gary
Moore, both in the studio and live in concert. So Ian Paice makes Deep Purple
the complete mirror image of Spinal Tap by keeping the drum position the only
For variation there has never been a Deep Purple album to
compare to Bananas. You would have to go back to the heady days of 1972 and
Machine Head to find the band in more classic form. Although almost all Deep
Purple albums have their good moments, this one has class stamped all the way
through the Bananas.
Opener ‘House of Pain’ is a typical Purple rocker with a
great opening guitar lick from Steve Morse before the rest of the band come
rocking in. Then you get Ian Gillan, the only real voice of Deep Purple,
breaking in on top of the band to sing about ... Guess what! ... the wonders of
sex. Remember, I said there was great variation on this album. I never said
things had completely changed. Then we get a short sharp solo from Steve Morse,
then Don Airey, before they both compete with each other in a duel between
keyboards and six string before Gillan brings the song to a conclusion with the
final verse. ‘House of Pain’ will make a great new opener to the Purple live
This is followed by the heavy rock of ‘Sun goes down’.
Deep Purple have never been heavy metal and this song is a good example of their
own hard rock genre, giving new boy Don Airey another chance to shine.
Third song ‘Haunted’ is one of the album’s many
highlights, a ballad which will now surely replace the over familiar ‘When a
Blind man cries’ in the live set. The emotional guitar solo from Steve Morse
is accompanied with a tour de force vocal performance from Ian Gillan, and the
behind string arrangements from the master of his art Paul Buckmaster.
When Deep Purple write a song called ‘Razzle Dazzle’,
does this dog have to tell you what it’s about or what it will sound like?
‘Silver Tongue’ is a real down and dirty rocker driven along by the dynamic
rhythm section of Roger Glover and Ian Paice. Keeping these two together is good
enough reason for me getting Deep Purple on the road. Has there ever been a
better pairing in Rock ‘n’ Roll?
The one complaint I overheard from other Purple fans is that
if you have the best guitarist in the world, why not use him more on your
records? Well, Steve Morse gets to do a short solo on every track on the album,
and it must be remembered that this is a Deep Purple album, of which Steve is a
member. It is not a Steve Morse album. So if you want to hear a seven minute
guitar solo by Steve Morse, go and buy his solo album.
‘Walk On’, the following song, is a perfect example of
harmony; sounding almost like a studio jam, where every member of the band
sounds comfortable in each other’s company.
‘Picture of Innocence’ is a genuine funky song given the
Purple treatment almost as if there had been a collaboration between the band
and the late great Ian Dury.
‘I got your Number’ would make a great single for the
band and will probably be used with great effect on stage, where the boys will
stretch it out, making room for longer solos.
‘Never a Word’ is a number with Steve Morse sounding a
little too medieval, and the vocals too weak to this dog’s ears; causing a
deduction of one precious star. I would have preferred to hear the electric
instrumental ‘Well Dressed Guitar’, which the band played at the Impact
Arena in Bangkok in 2002, when we were told it would be on the next studio
‘Never a Word’ is the weakest song on the album. But the
ball is quickly picked up again on the rocking ‘Bananas’, when Morse and
Airey really roll up the sleeves and have a proper dig. The result is
spectacular. A rush of notes bursts out of your speakers with Ian Gillan joining
in on harmonica to bring the song to a rousing conclusion.
‘Doing it Tonight’ is another fine hard rock song with a
very obvious subject matter. Hey, why not? ‘Contact Lost’ closes the album
out with a beautiful instrumental led by Steve Morse. Go Bananas.
Steve Morse - Guitars
Roger Glover - Bass
Ian Gillan - Vocals
Ian Paice - Drums
Don Airey - Keyboards
House of Pain
Sun goes down
Picture of Innocence
I got your Number
Never a Word
Doing it Tonight
To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]