Deep Purple • Slaves & Masters (2013 re)

The CD reissue of Slaves & Masters is finally in stock, with bonus tracks, and John Tucker has kindly sent us a review.

deep_purple_slaves_and_masters_coverThe news that Joe Lynn Turner had been recruited to replace Ian Gillan in Deep Purple in December 1989 was greeted with a resounding chorus of raspberries, and on its release the ensuing album Slaves And Masters was largely greeted with derision. With Gillan gone Ritchie Blackmore had seemingly been able to exercise complete control over the band’s musical direction and the result appeared to be more a flaccid Rainbow album rather than anything you’d expect from Deep Purple. It didn’t do particularly well chartwise, peaking at a lowly No. 45 and spending a piffling two weeks in the charts, and the faithful hated it; for the first time since the band’s reformation venues on the 1991 tour featured rows of empty seats.
At the time, I listed five reasons why I liked the album. They were:
•    The opening track ‘King Of Dreams’ is the best song Rainbow never recorded;
•    The following song ‘The Cut Runs Deep’ actually has some balls and features one of Jon Lord’s best solos;
•    As does the quirky B-side ‘Slow Down Sister’;
•    The live set was considerably revamped (opening, for example, with ‘Burn’) and finally moved away from the ‘Made In Japan’ set they’d stuck rigidly to since reforming;
•    The line-up fortunately never made a second album.
In fact, the only reason I bought it was to keep the Purple collection complete, and I doubt I’ve played it in twenty years.
Looking back now though and playing it once again, I’ve come to realise that ‘Slaves And Masters’ isn’t actually a bad album. It’s a terrible Deep Purple album, true, but if you just let it spin you realise that it’s not a bad album. It’s something the likes of Foreigner could be rightly proud of, and it has aged with both grace and charm. Aside from ‘Fire in The Basement’ – the usual throwaway Rainbow track that Blackmore could toss off in five minutes – the songs are in the main extremely radio friendly but still possess great depth and character. Do you know how hard it is to type while eating huge slices of humble pie? This re-issue adds ‘Slow Down Sister’, the quirky B-side of second single ‘Truth Hurts’ and the two single edits (‘King Of Dream’s having preceded the album’s release)  but it’s a shame no-one bothered to track down the much rarer cut ‘Fire Ice & Dynamite’ from the album sessions that went to the soundtrack of the film of the same name. ‘Slaves And Masters’ is still one of Deep Purple’s worst three albums, but it could be argued that Purple’s worst is still better than a lot of bands’ best. And that’s no bad thing in itself.
John Tucker July 2013 /

Journalist Jon Kirkman did tell me he interviewed Roger Glover at some length after the storm had died down, and had Roger agree (on tape!) that S&M was really a Rainbow album not a Deep Purple album. By then of course I had been branded a heretic for suggesting much the same at the time! In reality as I have admitted before, a couple of the tracks are very catchy and do get played at DTB Towers.  So if you don’t have the album, this reissue might be worth investigating. Fire Ice & Dynamite would have been useful for completists but the label concerned has a long history of missing the bleeding obvious, and it needn’t be a deal breaker. Simon.

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