CD Review: Deep Purple NOW What?! Gold Edition

Deep Purple's latest gets the Gold treatment.
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Legendary British rockers, Deep Purple's 19th studio album, NOW What?!, was a successful one for the band. Their first album since 2005, it made the top 20 in the UK -- the first time the band had done that in 20 years -- and achieved gold status in Germany, Russia, Czech Republic and Poland. To celebrate, the album is being rereleased in a 2-CD Gold Edition with bonus studio and live cuts.

The studio album, which was produced by Bob Ezrin of Pink Floyd, Kiss and Alice Cooper fame, among others, is a fine blend of sounds longtime Deep Purple fans will be familiar with, along with some modern production touches they may not be as used to. Blinded by Sound's full review of this release can be found here.

For the Gold Edition, two studio tracks join 12 live performances from the band's recent European tour. "First Sign Of Madness," a song previously only available digitally and on the CD single for "Vincent Price," is a driving rocker with great early rock and roll piano stylings courtesy of Don Airey. As he was on some of the cuts on NOW What?!, singer Ian Gillan's vocals are double tracked throughout.

The other bonus studio track is a cover of Jerry Lee Lewis' "It'll Be Me." Where the original version had the typical, rollicking, boogie-woogie feel of many of Lewis' most famous songs, Deep Purple slows down the tempo a bit. This gives the song a bluesy groove not present in the original. Airey shines once again on piano and organ.

The main attraction to the Gold Edition, however, is the 12 live tracks and they do not disappoint. Gillan is in strong voice on the classic "Strange Kind Of Woman," which features a fine extended organ solo from Airey. Guitarist Steve Morse shines on the galloping riff of In Rock's "Hard Loving Man." While Gillan's range isn't quite what it used to be (The band tuned down on "Perfect Strangers," for instance), it is still good and his vocals here are impressive. Morse and Airey show off their chops with some impressive soling on the song.

"Vincent Price," from NOW What?!, translates well in the live setting and benefits from the lack of a double tracked lead vocal. Gillan sounds confident on this eerie track. More straightforward, but still impressive is a reading of the NOW What?! Track, "All The Time In The World." The song's laid-back groove works surprisingly well and offers the listener a change of pace from the band's usual bombast.

Of course, no Deep Purple live release would be complete without the band's best-known track, "Smoke On The Water." While playing any song hundreds of times over a career may seem like a chore to many bands, Deep Purple seems unfazed, playing the song as if it was the first time an audience had heard it live. This results in a fun reading of this old classic.

While this release may be a bit of a double dip for fans who already own NOW What?!, the 14 bonus tracks are well worth revisiting the album for. For fans that don't own the new album yet, this would seemingly be the perfect edition to buy. The studio cuts show a band that is still creative after all these years while the live tracks show Deep Purple has lost none of its on stage luster.