IAN GILLAN – The Voice of Deep Purple – The Gillan Years

IAN GILLAN – The Voice of Deep Purple – The Gillan Years

The living legend that is Deep Purple’s seasoned veteran Ian Gillan hardly needs any introduction at all. In many ways, he is the voice of rock. It is as pure and simple as that. Having said that, his own solo works are quite often overlooked, which is a damn shame as there is some truly fantastic material (and some crappy stuff too) to be found among his vast discography. This excellent box set contains three very different and challenging albums of his that show a lot of integrity and confidence on Gillan’s part for many different reasons. The three records in question, namely "Scarabus" (1977), "Accidentally on Purpose" (1988), and "Naked Thunder" (1990), were almost like a musical playground to Ian and his cohorts in that there was a complete disregard for conventional songwriting and instead a strong focus on being musically daring and adventurous. For that reason, these three discs still hold up incredibly well today.

"Naked Thunder", which hails from 1990, is arguably the best of the bunch. It is cohesive and coherent albeit unpredictable and with plenty of elements to it that will surprise and intrigue you. Boasting a solid production with power and depth to it not to mention plenty of well-written tunes such as the ripping "Gut Reaction" and the moving "Loving on Borrowed Time", this one reeks of quality and sounds like a labor of love.

"Scarabus", the 1977 hard rock/jazz/fusion/progressive rock album by the Ian Gillan Band, is the trickiest one included and it took me fucking ages to well and truly absorb and digest its musical content, but it is a quite remarkable and varied output with splendid performances by each band member and a unique atmosphere to it. There is some thrilling keyboard work and a long line of wicked guitar licks to be found on "Scarabus", but compared to other albums that Gillan has been involved in, they are slightly more subtle and discreet here. The quirky standout "Twin Exhausted" is a vibrant and energetic piece while the groovy "Mercury High as well as the sassy "Mad Elaine" are also among the highlights to be found on this album. This type of music was hardly popular or in vogue back in the days of the punk explosion in 1976-1977, so "Scarabus" sunk without a trace when it was originally released, which was rather unfair, really.

"Accidentally on Purpose", which was written and recorded by Gillan and his Deep Purple mate Roger Glover along with a cast of other talented musicians, is an experimental, entertaining, and highly diverse affair. It is very much a product of the 80s in terms of sound and style, but there is no denying the staying power of such infectious songs as "Via Miami", "Telephone Box", and "Lonely Avenue". It switches and shifts between a lot of different moods and there are plenty of horns and saxophones and whatnot present here, which is cool, but it is a little less captivating than the other discs included in this set. Still, it is worth investing time in and checking out in more detail as there are some fascinating compositions to be found on it.

Each disc contains a couple of bonus cuts in the shape of Deep Purple staples such as "Child in Time", "Woman From Tokyo", "Black Night", and others performed by Gillan and friends. Naturally, they sound different here i.e. a little more loose and intuitive, which makes them a most welcome addition for any fan of either Gillan or Purple. They have a really raw and wild sound to them here and sound anything but polished.

This set basically spans three decades of creativity (and credibility) and is a beguiling and charming collection of tracks that deserve a wider audience. It may not be as intriguing, dramatic, or goosebump-inducing as Deep Purple, but it is an essential release nonetheless.