Deep Purple return for solid, fun album

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Story & Photo by Scott A. Smith

My initial fears deceived me. Deep Purple’s latest album, “Turning to Crime,” is stronger – and a lot more fun – than I thought it would be.

Yep, it’s completely occupied by cover songs, but the CD frequently is a bit edgy and almost always carries an abundance of joyous sounds and vibes.

And it was created during the COVID-19 lockdown, with each member recording their respective parts at their own home studios. Turning to CrimeSinger Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice, guitarist Steve Morse and keyboardist Don Airey playfully put their own musical stamp on classic songs originally immortalized by Cream (“White Room”), The Yardbirds (“Shapes of Things”), Little Feat (“Dixie Chicken”), Spencer Davis Group (snippets of “Gimme Some Lovin’”), among others.

“White Room” and “Shapes of Things” both are among the proof that Deep Purple still has the goods. Playing-wise, Glover, Paice, Morse and Airey always hit their marks, and Gillan’s voice, which comes with a pleasing sense of maturity and experience, joins in at top-shelf capacity.

Even “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” a track created by Huey “Piano” Smith that might sound like a train wreck on paper, works just fine in the context of “Turning to Crime.”

The Purple members also show adoration for Ray Charles (“Let the Good Times Roll”) and Love (“7 and 7 Is”), as well as the sprawling, still-timeless “Oh Well.” Originally penned by Fleetwood Mac’s original front-man, Peter Green, “Oh Well,” in the hands of Purple, boasts rocking efforts that dip a bit into funky and psychedelic rhythms and tones.

Like the cover songs selected for “Turning to Crime,” Deep Purple isn’t going away. And thank goodness for that, because Deep Purple’s ongoing presence is making the act of greeting the New Year all that much more sweeter.

Final Grade: B+

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