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'WhoCares' is not a question to ascertain who's bothered by the musical pairing of these two rock/metal legends, and it would certainly be a rhetorical one if that was the case; rather it's the moniker given to their 2011 collaboration for the charity single 'Out of My Mind' to assist in raising funds for an Armenian music school. As if Ian Gillan and Tony Iommi weren't enough of a draw by themselves, the lineup of this ephemeral venture also featured Iron Maiden sticksman Nicko McBrain, the recently deceased Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord and ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted. The resulting music is quite wonderful, as you would expect from the calibre of performer involved. A mid-tempo, wholly retro rock/metal affair, 'Out of My Mind' is loaded with the distinct idioms of each musician which combine to create a track that's sure to become another timeless classic in rock music history and one that leaves me wondering just what else this fusion of talent could have produced had they written and recorded more material. Oh wait, there's a second WhoCares track which makes its CD debut by commencing the second disc, 'Holy Water', which Gillan has deployed here as euphemistic for whisky according to the sporadically detailed and occasionally informative liner notes (also written by Iommi) that fill the booklet. This still leaves me wanting more...

Alas, there is but a mere two WhoCares tracks to whet the appetite of what else might've been and the remainder of this compilation is chock-full of what's been billed as "rarities, classics and unreleased songs" from the long, illustrious careers of Gillan and Iommi, all of which have been remastered this year. Occasionally they feature both men such as the Gillan-era Black Sabbath song 'Zero the Hero', but more often than not just Gillan is present. Even the late great Ronnie James Dio crops up at one point to share vocals on 'Smoke on the Water', previously released on Deep Purple's 'Live at the Royal Albert Hall', a performance with the London Symphony Orchestra (post-Metallica's 'S & M' but Purple got there first with the rock/orchestral fusion back in 1969, of course, with Jon Lord's compositional 'Concerto for Group and Orchestra' masterpiece). Elsewhere, there are 7" vinyl B-sides; a track from an Absolute Radio acoustic session with Gillan on vocals and Steve Morris on guitar; so-called "rare" tracks (rare for those who don't already own them, I guess); and the previously unreleased 'Dick Pimple', a ten minute Deep Purple jam recorded live in the studio, originally recorded for a free fan-club CD single. All in all, 'WhoCares' is not a fully representative cross-section of these two men's musical careers, and nor is it meant to be. Rather what we have here are small glimpses into different eras of their varied and, at times, eclectic musical ventures with the bias towards Gillan-related material. As such, I can't particularly recommend this release to the general rock fan but there's undoubtedly much to get excited about for Gillan and Iommi aficionados.
Double Album
Review by Mark Holmes
47:04 & 48:29
16th July 2012
DISC ONE: 1) Out of My Mind; 2) Zero the Hero; 3) Trashed; 4) Get Away; 5) Slip Away; 6) Don't Hold Me Back; 7) She Thinks It's a Crime; 8) Easy Come, Easy Go; 9) Smoke on the Water

DISC TWO: 1) Holy Water; 2) Anno Mundi; 3) Let it Down Easy; 4) Hole in My Vest; 5) Can't Believe You Wanna Leave Me; 6) Can I Get a Witness; 7) No Laughing in Heaven; 8) When a Blind man Cries; 9) Dick Pimple
"...small glimpses into different eras of their varied and, at times, eclectic musical ventures with the bias towards Gillan-related material."