Deep Purple, “Whoosh!” (earMUSIC)
“Whoosh!” makes it three-for-three for the pairing of Deep Purple and producer Bob Ezrin, an album that at its numerous heights evokes the band’s most successful era of the early ‘70s.
With a stable lineup for nearly 20 years, the hard rock pioneers’ new album is built on its best assets: Ian Gillan’s robust vocals, the sturdy foundation set by the rhythm section of Ian Paice and Roger Glover, Steve Morse’s inventive inventory of six-string tones and phrasings, and Don Airey’s Hammond A-100.
An album’s first song is not necessarily its first single, but “Throw My Bones,” which is both, is aural candy of the first order and a magnificent reintroduction after the three-year break since the previous studio effort, “Infinite.”
“Drop the Weapon,” a call for de-escalation and wise choices; “We’re All the Same In the Dark,” a tongue-in-cheek, slightly desperate pick-up line; the decibel-denouncing “No Need to Shout"; and the haunting “Step By Step” all keep the needles in or near the red.
Even among top-notch individual performances and the ensemble’s cohesion, Airey’s keyboard excellence stands out and his and Morse’s Bach-like runs on power ballad “Nothing at All” -- with plenty more potency than balladry -- are magnificent.
As for instrumental “And the Address," is Deep Purple really saying goodbye or is its place in the running order, and the mere fact that it was re-recorded, only a tease in the way the Beatles fed the “Paul is dead” rumors with clues in songs supposedly confirming his premature demise? After all, the group's 2017-2019 tour was called “The Long Goodbye” but concerts are planned, post-pandemic, behind this album, as well.
Written by the two members of Deep Purple’s towering “Mark II” lineup missing from the current roster, Ritchie Blackmore and the late Jon Lord, “And the Address” is the last song on the album, but for a bonus track. It was also the first tune on the band’s 1968 debut, “Shades of Deep Purple,” so is it just a coincidence or are they completing the circle and really drawing the shades on their career?
Any ensemble still willing and able to emulate its best years shouldn’t call it quits after an album as good as “Whoosh!” -- unless Deep Purple wants to go out on a peak.