DEEP PURPLE - “Turning to Crime”
By Dark Starr
This is a very unusual DEEP PURPLE album, yet there is no mistaking it as DEEP PURPLE. It's also a lot of fun. With the pandemic raging and various restrictions on travel and congregating in place around the world, the band decided to create an album with everyone recording their parts in their own studios rather than convening somewhere to do it. In the modern world, that's not unusual, but I have a hunch it is for this band.
All of that isn't the extent of how this set is different. First, there are no original songs, only covers. Secondly, this does include some guest musicians here and there. Some of them provide horns on a song or two, which is another change. The thing is, as different as this is in so many ways, it is trademark DEEP PURPLE. It's also very strong.
They open the set with "7 And 7 Is<" and this classic LOVE song gets a cool rendition here. The keyboards lend a little different flavor. Ian Gillan's vocals are a great fit on this thing. The tune gets a little proggy vibe from those keyboards, but it also remains somewhat faithful to the basics of the tune. RUSH also did a cover of this, and I like that a lot, but I prefer this one. Steve Morse's guitar soloing is purely magical as is Don Airey's keyboard soloing (although since Roger Glover provides some additional keys on this, some of that might be him). They take this into some almost fusion zones as that powerhouse instrumental break works through.
"Rockin' Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu" was originally from a gentleman named Huey “Piano” Smith, but you have probably heard a cover at some point. They put in a smoking old-school boogie performance of this. The piano is so classy on this thing. There is almost a jazz group vibe at points here. They really capture the kind of tone you'd expect from the tune, while also "Purpleizing" it. This is one of the songs with horns and Bob Ezrin contributes some backing vocals to this.
"Oh Well" is next, and I've always been a big fan of this FLEETWOOD MAC (from the Peter Green days) number. They really turn this into a DEEP PURPLE song. This version rivals the best covers of this I've heard. The guitar work on this is so amazing. They really fire this out into some powerhouse jamming at points. Gillan's vocals are perfect for this kind of song, too. They even manage to take it rather proggy at times. Gillan provides some percussion on this tune.
Nicole Thalia and Marsha B. Morrison add some backing vocals to "Jenny Take A Ride!" Fast paced and hard rocking, this is a real screamer. It was originally done by MITCH RYDER & THE DETROIT WHEELS. The piano solo on this is so classy as is the organ one. As always, Morse puts in some killer guitar soloing.
Originally by BOB DYLAN, "Watching The River Flow" is a solid tune. I am not familiar with the original, but DEEP PURPLE bring an almost jazz-like angle to the song. This isn't one of my favorites here, but it has its charms. We are treated to what is essentially a classic piano solo at the end of this number. Bob Ezrin provides some backing vocals on this tune, too.
"Let The Good Times Roll" is next, and this Ray Charles and Quincy Jones song gets a full jazz treatment. It's a really fun groove. We are treated to both organ and piano soloing in a full old-school jazz vein. Gillan really puts his all into this one. This is another song with horns, and Thalia and Morrison are both back with backing vocal performances.
In addition to Gillan, Glover and Ezrin provide backing vocals on DEEP PURPLE's rendition of "Dixie Chicken." Both Ian Paice and Glover are responsible for the percussion. The LITTLE FEAT classic gets the PURPLE treatment here, starting with a short percussion solo. Other instruments gradually jump in.
A powerhouse rocking screamer, theYARDBIRDS' "Shapes Of Things" gets a great PURPLE treatment. This seems like an obvious choice for the band. Both Gillan and Ezrin provide the backing vocals on this tune.
"The Battle Of New Orleans" is next, and I have a long relationship with the song. Johnny Horton (who recorded this song before) was a friend of some members of my family, so I grew up with a lot of his records in the house and listened to them a lot. This version is an updating, but it does have a lot of the flavor of the original. I think Horton would have enjoyed this version. It's a fun tune. A sea of vocals are present here, provided by Glover, Gillan, Morse and Ezrin. This number also has "fiddle" and squeeze box in the mix.
"Lucifer" was originally recorded by BOB SEGER when he was working under the name "BOB SEGER SYSTEM." I have not heard it before, but I really love this DEEP PURPLE take on it. It wouldn't be a stretch to imagine this as an original tune. Gillan delivers a trademark vocal performance. Morse is on fire. They turn in some decidedly prog stuff later in the track, and Airey really delivers. Julian Shank provides percussion and both Gillan and Ezrin supply the backing vocals.
The backing vocals on "White Room" are also provided by Gillan and Ezrin. It might be an obvious choice, but I've always loved this song. I have to believe that CREAM was a definite influence on DEEP PURPLE, too. This version is fairly faithful to the original, but it does get a Purpleized angle. The keyboards are a nice bit of icing.
"Caught In The Act" is a closing medley. The blues rocking jam (Freddie King's "Going Down") that starts it is such a classic groove. They make a rather abrupt, but very effective twist to give us some of the BOOKER T. AND THE MGs classic instrumental "Green Onions." While it has a bit more modernized guitar sound, they play it pretty faithfully and Airey's organ really gets a showcase. From there this shifts gears into THE ALLMAN BROTHERS' "Hot 'Lanta." This rendition is seriously incendiary. They make their way out into a short instrumental treatment of LED ZEPPELIN's "Dazed and Confused" further down the road. The SPENCER DAVIS classic "Gimme Some Lovin'" comes in to serve as the closing movement of this killer medley. The backing vocals hare are done by Gillan, Ezrin, Thalia and Morrison.