Picks and Pans Review: Perfect Strangers

updated 02/11/1985 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/11/1985 01:00AM

Deep Purple

Holy time warp, Batman! Deep Purple, perhaps the most battering of the bands in the early '70s sonic boom that included Led Zeppelin and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has regrouped. Perfect Strangers features the same lineup that unleashed on the world Smoke on the Water, the classic, if that's the word, 1972 four-chord rock plodder, and Woman From Tokyo. But don't go rooting around in the attic for your Day-Glo posters just yet. This is a more mature band, putting out what is with a couple of exceptions a lukewarm, lax effort. Knocking at Your Back Door and the title track have workmanlike melodies, but the rest of the tunes sound as if they were strung together in the time it takes to soft-boil an egg. The perfunctory material is regrettable, since it is obvious on such songs as A Gypsy's Kiss that the band's musical abilities have improved since it broke up in 1976. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who went on to play in Rainbow, turns in some inventive work. But bass player Roger Glover, another Rainbow alum whose solo album, Mask, was one of the most pleasant surprises of 1984, is too far in the background. Jon Lord's Phantom-at-the-Opera organ playing had been the signature sound of Deep Purple; now it is more subdued and pleasing. The unforgivable sin of Perfect Strangers is foisting the insistent, over-amped singer Ian Gillan on the public. Deep Purple, nevertheless, may be an idea whose time has come again, since so many less talented bands are burning up the charts. The guys perhaps just needed a warm-up album to knock the rust off their heavy metal. (Polygram)

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