Now What Reviews
I’m pulling out reviews from those people have emailed in or sent as comments… latest first!
Nice detailed review from writer Michael Anthony on his own website here.
Rather annoyingly the CD arrived as I left for work. Naturally I took it to the office but the PC I was using wouldn’t play it so resorted to hunting for it on YouTube on my smart phone. Worth the wait? Absolutely. A stunning album….. and one I predicted many years ago when I wrote to your fine magazine and said that the album after Rapture would be awesome. Why? Because by then Don Airey would have lived Purple live for some years and have come out his shell when he recognised he was Purple’s keyboardist and no longer Jon’s replacement. And I hate to say I told you so but I was right!
Now, whilst it is never Perfect Strangers meets MIJ (a studio album can never meet a live album….hell, no live album can ever meet MIJ) I kinda understand what they mean…..and it touches upon what I wrote years ago….breathing in the culture of Purple pushed Airey to the fore in a way his career to date has not shown. This is turn gave the rat of Purple fresh impetus and the rest is history (or should I say Now What).
What is evident is a band that’s not trying too hard (something that Rapture suffered from) and therefore producing their best studio album since Purpendicular. Stand out tracks for me are Body Line, A Simple Song, Weirdistan, Après Vous, Vincent Price, indeed the weakest tracks are the two singles. IGs vocals throughout the album complement the music in a way he hasn’t done for a long time. Check out the vocals on Body Line – a real 70s feel to it, or Blood from a Stone, which starts off as if the band are playing the midnight slot in a smoke filled jazz cafe in New York before upping the ante – just awesome. So after this, Now What?! Raj Kohli
Rapture sounded laboured to me, like hard work. While perhaps a rounder production than Bananas, Bananas for all its warts sounded fresher. What Now?! sounds fresh AND refined. It is not as huge an outburst in creativity as Purpendicular was (which ended an endless period of stagnation for Purple and followed the very unhappy TBRO), but beats all other Morse-era albums. And Airey, who was always a hired hand/journeyman to me, has really come into his own on this album (I still say album!), his playing is fresh, inspired, has groove and taste. He is never gonna be another Jon Lord – who was to the Hammond what Keith Richards is to the Telecaster and not so much a virtuoso, at least within the constraints of Purple -, but then he doesn’t need to be. I have never liked Airey’s keyboard playing as much as on What Now?! Does he dominate in places? Yes, but he has something to say and it’s varied, hats off to Steve M. for giving him room. Together with THOBL (yup, I ‘fess up to preferring that over Perfect Strangers) and Purpendicular, What Now?! is poised to be among my favourite post-reunion albums. (My pre-reunion favourite albums? BoTal, MachH, Burn and CTtBand.) Uwe Hornung
Well here we go again (as someone once sang). 40 years ago I was sprawled on the carpet in our Victorian ‘best’ room with the gas fire on low, pouring over the sleeve to Who Do We Think We Are having been through the new album and wondering if this was the end of the band. 20 years later, The Battle Rages On cut a similar vibe of a band at war with itself and ready to call it a day.
So, another twenty years on, is Now What really a last gasp offering from Deep Purple as so many on the web have speculated? Is it bunnies.
Let’s deal with that ridiculous marketing tosh on the cover first, ‘Perfect Strangers meets Made In Japan’? Nothing meets Made In Japan. It sits there as a statement for all time; the best rock band on the planet.
Instead Now What is more Perfect Strangers meets Purpendicular, via H-Bomb, Tarkus and LA Woman really. I even got Talking Heads and Jethro Tull at a couple of points. And Roxy Music (but that was only because the girls from Country Life cover fell off the shelf and almost hit me on the head when I pushed the volume up at one spot).
It’s a good strong offering from most angles, and one which I know I’ll want to listen to again and explore. Good grief, even Hell To Pay fits right in to the album once you cop an earful of the Mandrake Root-esque Rondo which spills out between verses. The only cut I really had to skip on was Uncommon Man, where Don’s seeming infatuation with all thing ELP gets a little too uncomfortable, but overall this certainly doesn’t sound like a band about to call it a day. Indeed right now it sounds like the best since Abandon to me.
Rapture was such a dreadful disappointment I was so nervous putting this on, but I don’t think I’m just on the rebound here in getting so much out of this. The vinyl even has shiny inner bags and everything, just like a real LP.
What I suspect are fairly, um, suspect lyrics on Apres Vous (‘fill your boots’ indeed! Wisely buried in the mix) even herald a full on guitar keyboard trade off clearly inspired by days of yore. And Vincent Price certainly brought a smile to my face. What other band would throw this at us to end an album? That’s what still makes Deep Purple special at times, because you really cannot measure them up against any other outfit. They’re out there, they do what they do, and at times like this we love them for trying. Sure a few bridges are a little simplistic, and once again they steam into some stunning little instro passages then refuse to stretch them out, but enough survives to bring a little enjoyment into our triple dip recession ridden times. If they can be bothered to risk all and build a set around this one then it stands a chance of being as good as the Abandon tour. Here’s hoping. Now Ian, about those “seven screaming virgins on a sacrificial alter”, what exactly is it we have to sign up for to be in with a shot? Simon Robinson
I partly agree that the album has parts of the other Morse-era albums, and it’s certainly a classic compared to the awful sounding, worst Purple album ever (Rapture). Some great riffs, hooks, melodies and singing, and produced very well this time. But after 8-10 listenings I have to say that there is not a single guitar / organ solo that you will remember an hour later. Lastly, Paicey sounds just as tired as on Rapture, he is playing like Phil Rudd, and that’s not the way we want it, is it? This is probably the last album, and all in all a decent “album” farewell. Jacob Kroll
Congratulations to Deep Purple (and all of us!). The new album is absolutely fantastic. Innovative, well structured and produced songs. Many highlights. This will be on my receiver as much as Machine Head and Purpendicular. A lot of interesting chord progression and innovative use of different sounds – Mr. Morse and Mr. Airey. Mr. Gillans use of harmonies is also a new approach. This CD deserves to get recognition as a masterpiece. Ole Simonsen
As you may have heard spring wasn’t that nice in Germany so I thought it might be an undiscovered depression I suffer from when I first listened to WHAT NOW. Well the weather got better, I tried again…well, the album didn’t. First song, a simple song, made me wonder how any band – let alone DP – could start an album off like that. Worst Purple-tune ever in my book. Second one…a tad better. Third one…a bit better again. HELL TO PAY – now we`re talking. BODYLINE – a cousin of BACK TO BACK, nothing wrong with that, I like the groove. ABOVE AND BEYOND, well it just doesn’t get started somehow, that riff seems to go forever but it`s one I wouldn’t want it to. BLOOD FROM A STONE – even if it`s DOORS revisited I could enjoy that e-piano but the chorus sort of spoils it for me. And now it`s time for an old Errol Flynn-movie, fanfare and all…I cannot stand that keyboard sounds, they are so 80s, I wish Don Airey had stuck to piano and hammond, especially as he dominates the proceedings on NOW WHAT. APRES VOUS – another cousin of BACK TO BACK. Again, nothing wrong with that, I liked the RaptureOTD track – but is it THAT good you need to stick to the idea for another two songs? ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD reassures me that this is the first PURPLE offering of which I like the singles best. A nice tune – if a little commercial soundwise. Save the worst for last: VINCENT PRICE – it`s Don`s b-movie-time once more. I could take the intro for a joke but once the horror-choir sets in it makes me shiver for all the wrong reasons. The riff is a SURVIVOR rip off with another silly keyboard(?)-soundbite as the icing on the cake. The chorus and the soloing are remarkable though but that cannot save this thing. As a bonus we get IT`LL BE ME, which IG had a take on before. I admit I never was fond of that old number in the first place but here it even sounds like The Killer on downers to these ears. Phew. Now I feel better. But to try to be serious: The playing is great, I`d love to hear more of IP, I love most of the interpaly between Don and Steve very much all over the album and the lyrics are worth the purchase alone. Half of NOW WHAT I do like – with some other albums it`s quite the same for me. So I`d say it`s unusual and brave but not as good as many say. Regards, one old Max