LAURA SHENTON – Deep Purple Slaves and Masters: In-depth
Having read a few other titles in the "In-depth" series by author Laura Shenton, all of which have been informative and interesting, I am happy to report that this one right here is actually the best one yet and that the subject matter is one that appeals to me greatly. Having been a huge fan of Deep Purple’s ridiculously overlooked "Slaves and Masters" (1990) featuring the talented Joe Lynn Turner on vocals, it was a real treat to immerse myself in 112 pages focusing specifically on said album and all the circumstances surrounding it. Shenton outlines and discusses how the stifling environment and less than creative atmosphere around the "The House of Blue Light" LP (1987) eventually led to Gillan being dismissed from the group and Joe Lynn Turner being drafted into Purple. The narrative revolves around the recording sessions, the tours, the critical reviews and reception of the album and shows, the band dynamics, the aftermath and dissolution of the line-up, and the status of "Slaves and Masters" today. In many ways, "Slaves and Masters" bridges the gap between the aforementioned 1987 output and the Gillan-fronted "The Battle Rages On" (1993) quite nicely from a musical and stylistic point of view and yet it sounds unique too.
Blackmore’s playing is inspired, and Turner delivers superb vocal hooks and is firing on all cylinders while the crisp production adds a touch of class and sophistication to the compositions. Many consider this gem to be an anomaly in the Purple discography, but it is a phenomenal record boasting some fantastic ballads and kick-ass rockers with loads of atmosphere to them. The author provides a most valuable insight into the creation of the LP – both in terms of what came before and what followed – and what the fans and critics made of the Mk. V line-up. Perhaps one of the best parts of this neat little book is that Shenton’s own fondness for the album shines through (although subtly at times) on nearly every page, which entails that there is a prominent sense of enthusiasm and passion to the story. Like I said, this is the kind of book that I have always dreamt of reading simply because I cherish "Slaves and Masters" so much, and I found "Deep Purple Slaves and Masters: In-depth" an illuminating and entertaining piece of work.