On the evidence of ‘Battle..’, this was (and still is) a true embarrassment for Deep Purple and all concerned.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Deep Purple
ALBUM: The Battle Rages On
SERIAL: 74321 15420-2
CD REISSUE: 2008, BMG (Japan), BVCM-35351
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Ian Gillan – vocals * Ritchie Blackmore – guitars * Roger Glover – bass * Ian Paice – drums * Jon Lord – organ, keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Battle Rages On * 02 Lick It Up * 03 Anya * 04 Talk About Love * 05 Time To Kill * 06 Ramshackle Man * 07 A Twist In The Tale * 08 Nasty Piece Of Work * 09 Solitaire * 10 One Man’s Meat
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Although it was predictably panned, 1990’s ‘Slaves And Masters’ was a reasonable piece of AOR from Deep Purple. Still nobody really expected Joe Lynn Turner to hang around too long and sure enough Ian Gillan was soon lured back into the fold in 1992. This was another last ditch effort to milk the famous MK II lineup, a sickening move. Rumor has it the music the band was working on with Turner was above average, something I’m willing to believe.
This album was clearly a step backwards, with material so poor Deep Purple became even more of a joke during those years. The relationship between Gillan and Blackmore was more strained than ever, as proved by the drivel offered here. To actually think this was the same lineup responsible for ‘In Rock’, Machine Head’ and even ‘Perfect Strangers’ is inconceivable.
The biggest problem I have with the music is the lack of identity which made this lineup legendary. There’s too much of a reliance on symphonic keyboards from Lord and you’d have to be insane to think this is heavy. True, ‘Twist Of The Tale’ is fast and a decent tear up, but the band could have written this in their sleep. ‘Anya’ is an obvious attempt at an epic, but falls flat on its face with its plodding direction. ‘Lick It Up’ is catchy, but still workmanlike at best and compared to Gillan’s solo material (‘Naked Thunder’ and ‘Toolbox’) it’s enough to make me wonder why he re-joined the band, $$$?
‘One Mans Meat’ displays some of Gillan’s humorous lyrics, but the track is more of a novelty than a proper song. Some have speculated the title track is really about the Gillan-Blackmore feud and I wouldn’t be surprised. Further tracks aren’t worth discussing, they are all anonymous and anyone listening to this hoping to hear another ‘Speed King’ or even ‘Rat Bat Blue’ would be better off committing themselves into a mental institution.
It’s been at least a decade since I listened to this and I fully understand why I had avoided it so long. That legends like Deep Purple could conjure up such slop is unfathomable, at least it was back then. Blackmore soon buggered off for good following the resulting tour and in 1996 Deep Purple reappeared with Steve Morse, who has been in the band ever since. I’d have to side with Blackmore on his issues with Gillan returning, as it was a redundant move and totally uninspired.
With Turner the band had explored tracks like ‘Burn’ that Gillan will never sing live. As decent as the Morse era has been on occasion, there has always been a void without Blackmore present. With him the band always had that trademark sound; when he left they lost it. On the evidence of ‘Battle..’, the sound was gone while he was still there. This was (and still is) a true embarrassment for Deep Purple and all concerned.