Whether you're conscious of the fact or not, it is irrefutable that Deep Purple's music is ingrained within the evolution of rock, metal and prog. Bands, to this day, bare the traces of Purple's sound...whether they realise it or not. Perhaps they've been influenced by another band who were, in turn, influenced by Purple. Whatever the case, the Purple aesthetic is discernible across the rock, metal and prog spectrums right from the seventies to the present day, be it a nod towards guitar, keyboard, bass, drum, or vocal stylings; or their stylistic idioms in general. So what of Deep Purple themselves in 2013? Well, refreshingly, they can still cut it, and then some. When 'Now What?!' was unleashed earlier this year (to wide critical acclaim and global chart success) - a full length platter of brand new music - it transpired to be exactly the album that you'd expect, or rather hope, Purple to make at this stage of their career. Its retro essence is at the fore, compositionally and sound-wise. Tracks are immediately identifiable as Purple, loaded as they are with sonic traits from their songwriting prowess of yore, and produced with a richly resonant, warm analogue sound.
With such major chart success across the globe (number one in four countries; top ten in ten others... although, surprisingly, only number nineteen in the UK), Purple fans the world over surely already own 'Now What?!''. So why a reissue so soon? I'm always dubious towards label motives in issuing special editions only mere months after original release dates, particularly when they're timed to coincide with prime Christmas shopping timescales. However, earMUSIC have respectfully put together an attractive package to offer something actually worth owning (again, in many cases), and one that, according to press blurb, "loyal fans who have already bought the album can pick up this double pack and still pay less than they would normally or a new live album." I'm not sure how much that is exactly, but sounds like a bargain to me, particularly when Purple fans en masse would most likely fork out for a live album on its own.
So what exactly constitutes 'Now What?! The Gold Deluxe Edition'? Well, the packaging itself is exceptional - a mirrored, gold digipak with a cutout question/exclamation mark houses this two disc set. Each disc resides in its own sleeve within each digipak panel, with a booklet in each. A lot of thought's gone into this to create something rather attractive that people will actually want to own in physical form. And I'm guessing the majority of Purple's fanbase are from a record buying generation so it's nice to see that earMUSIC have still put in the extra effort to manufacture something like this. Music-wise, it's the second disc that'll be of most interest for the Purple aficionado. Titled 'The Now What?! Live Tapes', it features 2013 live recordings from shows in Italy, Denmark and Sweden with tracks both old and new. And, typical Purple style, it's not your standard live album with carbon-copy renditions of their songs; rather tracks are often punctuated by moments of improv. And the recordings themselves sound magnificent. The press sheet sent in with this release mentions that "great care has been paid to present this extra disc in a stunning hi-fi quality, still preserving its authenticity.", and I can't argue with that. It's in no small way a bunch of random live recordings slapped on a disc haphazardly as an excuse to re-brand 'Now What?!' with its 'Deluxe Edition' status. Not at all. This really does feel like a deluxe edition in every possible way.
NOW WHAT?! (GOLD DELUXE EDITION)
Review by Mark Holmes
64:33 & 72:28
2nd Dec 2013
DISC ONE: 1) A Simple Song; 2) Weirdistan; 3) Out of Hand; 4) Hell to Pay; 5) Body Line; 6) Above and Beyond; 7) Blood from a Stone; 8) Uncommon Man; 9) Après Vous; 10) All the Time in the World; 11) Vincent Price; 12) It'll Be Me; 13) First Sign of Madness
DISC TWO: 1) Strange Kind of Woman; 2) Hard Loving Man; 3) Vincent Price; 4) Contact Lost; 5) All the Time in the World; 6) No One Came; 7) Bodyline; 8) Perfect Strangers; 9) Above and Beyond; 10) Lazy; 11) Black Night; 12) Smoke on the Water
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"This really does feel like a deluxe edition in every possible way."