Album review: DEEP PURPLE – Slaves And Masters

DEEP PURPLE - Slaves And Masters

Hear No Evil Recordings [Release date 22.07.13]

Slaves And Masters might be remembered as the album that split the Purple fans (and some critics) in the early-1990s, launched in an era that spawned albums such as Tyketto’s ‘Don’t Come Easy ‘and House Of Lords’ ‘Sahara’.

I had vinyl copies of all these albums back in the day as I was into the melodic hard rock popular at the time, in that twilight period between late eighties air-brushed hair metal and the crushing fist of grunge that was to follow.

To Purple fans the immediate reaction would have been “where’s Gillan?”.  The true voice of Purple was absent and in his place, Ritchie Blackmore’s one-time vocalist in Rainbow: Joe Lynn Turner.  Turner’s most recent projects had been with Swedish shred-lord Yngwie Malmsteen.

Revisited after 20 years and Slaves And Masters remains a fairly consistent and excellent hard rock album, it might not truly be Deep Purple as we knew them  but – in tune with the times – the band produced a very acceptable, and commercial, album.

This is plainly evident from the superb opening track, also included as a bonus single edit, ‘King Of Dreams’ which combines great traction, a memorable chorus, and of course great vocals.

‘Fire In the Basement’ has all the classic Purple ingredients: Blackmore’s idiosyncratic guitar figures, Jon Lord’s sweeping Hammond and if Turner added a honed AOR vocal style and swagger it frankly isn’t any the worse for it.  Ditto on ‘Wicked Ways’ which is given greater drama by Jon Lord’s deft orchestration.

On reflection,  ‘Breakfast In Bed’ could be straight out of the Bad Company songbook whilst ‘Fortuneteller’ might be construed as Rainbow-lite but is nevertheless quite wonderful.

The album also spawned a standout ballad in ‘Love Conquers All’ now included as a bonus single edit and with the non-album B-side ‘Slow Down Sister’.

What this album does demonstrate – even to the naysayers – Deep Purple never really rested on the their laurels and even if ‘Slaves And Masters’ deviated slightly from the Gillan-led template it has some great moments and is certainly more consistent than the predecessor ‘House Of The Blue Light’.  In fact, there is perhaps a greater connection now between S&M and the band’s latest offering ‘Now What?’ in terms of adaptability and relevance to the time of release.

This version of Purple also had a non-album track featured in the film ‘Fire, Ice And Dynamite’ and they toured on the back of the album in 1991 with presumably some live recordings.  Sadly the single cuts are the only bonuses on this reissue.  Useful liner notes using contemporary press interview quotes piece together the story and ‘Slaves And Masters’ definitely demands reinvestigation.  ****

Review by David Randall

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