Mark 2 was back.
It made perfect business sense to have one of the premier bands of the early 70’s come back in the 80s MTV era.
“Perfect Strangers” is album number 11, released in 29 October 1984 and it became the most successful album from the ‘Mark II’ line-up.
Like nomads, they all arrived from different directions. Ritchie Blackmore and Roger Glover arrived from Rainbow, Ian Gillan from Black Sabbath and his solo band, Jon Lord from Whitesnake and Ian Paice from Whitesnake and Gary Moore’s backing band.
But problems existed from the outset. Business problems.
Gillan and Glover wanted the credits to be of the collective. Blackmore didn’t. As the main writer, he didn’t want to share any song writing credits with people who didn’t write anything. After years in the business, Blackmore knew how valuable the publishing is.
It wasn’t until Blackmore left the group in 1993 that the issue was finally resolved within Deep Purple.
I missed this in 1984 because I was into the whole Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot and Judas Priest phenomenon. These guys were just old dudes. Just look at the “mo” on Jon Lord. It’s classic 70’s.
All songs are written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover except where noted.
Knocking at Your Back Door
By now Blackmore had the experience of Rainbow and the commercial success that came with that, so when this song exploded out of the gate you get the best of Blackmore’s influences from Deep Purple and Rainbow.
If you don’t believe me, listen to the Verses, which is very similar to other Deep Purple verses like the one on “Smoke On The Water” and then the Chorus riff which has that Rainbow melodic rock feel, circa Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner.
And Ian Gillan has a smile on his face as he feels it coming while he’s knocking at someone’s back door, while probably cool for Motley Crue or Ratt, this is Deep Purple we are talking about.
But stick around for the outro solo.
Under the Gun
It was the first track I heard via a double compilation LP called “Headbangers Heaven”.
The intro riff grabs my attention right away, making me think of Rainbow and I like the way it all works with the Jon Lord’s keys.
But Ian Gillan is in form here, as it’s not an easy riff to sing over which then gets me thinking of his Gillan project.
It’s a blues rock number and the only song listed as written by all Deep Purple members.
It’s like the band never left and continued to make albums after “Who Do We Think We Are?”
And if it sounds familiar, it should. “Lay Down, Stay Down” comes to mind.
But press play to hear the Chorus Riff as Blackmore shows he can compete with the LA bands and do it better by taking “Schools Out” from Alice Cooper and making it sound a bit modern.
In the verses I am reminded of “Black Night” and in the solo break, the riff behind it like “Roadhouse Blues” from The Doors.
And I like it.
The side 2 opener.
It’s a classic and one of their best songs.
How good is the “Kashmir” style groove when it kicks in at the 2.30 minute mark?
Whatever Jimmy Page could do, Blackmore could do as well, at a time when Page was not as prolific as he used to be.
A Gypsy’s Kiss
It could have come from “Rising” but “Highway Star” also comes to mind. Gillan’s bluesy delivery suits.
Check out the unison keyboard and guitar riff/melodies. It brings back memories of the work that Lord and Blackmore did on “Burn”.
And Ian Paice behind the kit. He is relentless.
Remember in the 70’s when these kind of slow blues rock ballads sounded progressive and epic and then in the 80’s they morphed into clichéd power ballads.
While this song isn’t a 70s classic, Blackmore is in his element here with his emotive soloing.
That exotic Eastern European melody hooks me. It could have come from the Balkans, maybe Hungary or even Russia.
I don’t have this on the album, but how good is that intro. It reminds of “A Light In The Black”. It’s an extra track on the cassette and CD release. And Spotify has it.
Son of Alerik
At 10 minutes, this Blackmore penned instrumental is for the diehards.
The song appeared on the 1999 CD issue as a bonus track and it also appeared in an edited form on the 7″ B-side of the “Perfect Strangers” single, or in full on the 12″ “Perfect Strangers” single and the European version of the compilation “Knocking at Your Back Door: The Best of Deep Purple in the 80’s”.
The thing is, if a band reforms these days, or in the last 30 years, it would have been quite a media show, but their comeback in 1984, didn’t cause a ripple in the news outlets who had jumped on board the LA Sunset Strip Train or the San Francisco NWOBHM Thrash Scene.
But their comeback was met with success in the European markets which loved em back in the 70’s. The U.K, Switzerland, West Germany, Norway, Sweden, France, Austria, Finland and Holland jumped back on board the Deep Purple train.
Japan never left em. Australia and New Zealand also provided em with a certification.
And The Boss was the only artist on the touring circuit that out grossed out em.