Album of the Day: DEEP PURPLE’s Slaves and Masters

I recently watched the Now Spinning Magazine show (podcast) with Phil Aston and Martin Popoff discussing their favorite Deep Purple albums, and which inspired me to take out a few DP albums I hadn’t listened to in a while, including this one – Slaves and Masters, from late 1990. I remember how big the Purple reunion was in the mid ’80s, and how good Perfect Strangers was, and beyond the first single from House Of Blue Light, I quickly lost interest (wasn’t a fan at the time). Eventually it was announced that Joe Lynn Turner was the new singer for Deep Purple, after press articles that Jimi Jamison (Survivor) and Terry Brock (Strangeways) would be the new singer. Jamison had a new Survivor album out around the time, and was pressured by shady management not to take the Purple gig. Anyone who’s heard Jamison’s pre-Survivor albums with Target and Cobra might agree he would’ve been an excellent choice. Anyway, former Rainbow singer JL Turner was brought in, presumably at Ritchie Blackmore’s insistence, and I recall a UK music mag headline that read (something like) ‘Grown Men Wept Openly...’ upon announcing the news. Now, I wasn’t a big Purple fan then, and I liked the string of Rainbow radio hits with JLT in the early ’80s, so I wasn’t as upset, though in retrospect Slaves And Masters really made Purple more like Rainbow (an American radio friendly band) than what Purple was known for. But, I did like the first single “King Of Dreams”, which got plenty of radio play at the time, and I recall picking up the album new off the rack at Poptones in Niagara Falls! I played it a lot, especially side 1 – “King Of Dreams”, “The Cut Runs Deep”, “Fire In The Basement” were really good tracks (still are), that I dug right away. “Fire In The Basement” with that killer riff, kinda trying to be a next generation “Smoke On The Water” (without the story)! Heck, each track had a memorable intro. “Fortune Teller” was good as well, though a bit softer.

Side 2 carried on with a more AOR approach, less impressive IMO, but still included a few favorites like “Truth Hurts” and the more hard -rockin’ “Wicked Ways”. It also contained the ballad/single “Love Conquers All”, not a bad song, but out of place on a Deep Purple album (for me), as well as “Too Much Is Not Enough”, a track originally penned for JLT’s solo follow up to 1985’s Rescue You. The 12 inch single version for “Love Conquers All” also featured the non-LP “Slow Down Sister”. This one was produced by Roger Glover, a very ’80s radio friendly production, full of different keyboard sounds, no really lengthy or overly heavy songs (aside from maybe “Fire In The Basement”). And as much as I like this album overall, enjoyable listening, I think what it is missing is that one killer track like say “Knockin’ At Your Back Door” (thou’ the first 2 cuts come close). Even the album’s cover-art, though preferable for me to the previous few, screamed ’80s hard-rock.

Slaves And Masters didn’t live up to record company expectations, and a follow up with this line-up was dropped as the record company wanted Ian Gillan back in for the band’s 25th Anniversary, and the follow up The Battle Rages On. I gotta say I wasn’t crazy about that one either, so Slaves And Masters, tho’ not perfect, I enjoyed more than the one before and after it.

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