This album has little in common with ‘In Rock’ or ‘Machine Head’, as Deep Purple updated their approach to hard rock to suit the 80’s.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Deep Purple
ALBUM: The House Of Blue Light
SERIAL: DEEP 2A
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Ian Gillan – vocals * Ritchie Blackmore – guitars * Roger Glover – bass * Ian Paice – drums * Jon Lord – keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 Bad Attitude * 02 The Unwritten Law * 03 Call Of The Wild * 04 Mad Dog * 05 Black & White * 06 Hard Lovin’ Woman * 07 The Spanish Archer * 08 Strangeways * 09 Mitzi Dupree * 10 Dead Or Alive
WEBLINKS: Site Link
I might be in a minority for believing so, but ‘The House Of Blue Light’ years down the road stands up as a more consistent listen than any of the Steve Morse era albums, barely shading ‘Purpendicular’. ‘Blue Light’ is frequently forgotten, as the fanfare that surrounded Deep Purple’s 1984 MK2 reformation settled down, leaving this as somewhat of an afterthought even though it is a melodic delight from start to finish.
Most of the media attention fixated on the tension between Gillan and Blackmore, which resurfaced during the recording of the album, most noticeably because of Blackmore’s hatred for ‘Mitzi Dupree’ which ended up featuring his demo guitar work and nothing else. Regardless ‘Blue Light’ straddles the line between commercial hard rock and AOR, and driven by a succession of stunning hooks this is one Deep Purple outing I will never tire of. Blackmore somehow still owns the sound.
Like ‘Perfect Strangers’ this has little in common with ‘In Rock’ or ‘Machine Head’, as Deep Purple continued to update their approach to hard rock to suit the 80’s. Cue infectious melodies right from the go, ‘Black And White’ chugging along thanks to Blackmore’s bluesy riffing, with Gillan throwing in some harmonica.
Lord’s organ drone opens ‘Bad Attitude’ which melodically has Rainbow stamped on it, obviously a Blackmore penned number and classy, Gillan always superior to Joe Lynn Turner. At least I think so. ‘The Unwritten Law’ is total AOR, a riveting piece of interplay, especially Lord’s touches, this deserves to go down as legendary but hasn’t due to a bunch of bloated hacks from the time who deemed Purple as uncool.
Refusing to let up is the pair of ‘Call Of The Wild’ and ‘Mad Dog’, continuing the frenzied melodic assault and if you’ve never bothered to check this out, now is the time. ‘Hard Lovin’ Woman’ appears 17 years after ‘Hard Lovin’ Man’ and what puts this track in the upper echelons has to be Lord’s keyboard work in the opening bars, sweat-inducing indeed!
More in the traditional Deep Purple metal vein is ‘The Spanish Archer’ but more curious is ‘Strangeways’ a seven-minute affair where Gillan’s unique lyrics represent themselves in the line ‘have you seen the headlines, princess engaged, three million out of work, but it’s on the second page’. Working man’s hero forever, which is why Gillan always shames a Robert Plant or Ozzy Osbourne.
‘Mitzi Dupree’ isn’t spectacular indeed, sounding like a leftover from ‘Who Do We Think We Are!’, indicating maybe Blackmore had a point. Sensibly ‘Dead Or Alive’ is a fast-paced closer, as quick as Deep Purple ever played, although I recall Gillan deriding it as ‘shit’ in an interview about the album back in 1987 which I discovered while trawling the internet. It might be basic, but it’s a non-stop flurry of activity and most of all – heavy.
Things descended further downhill following the release of the album, with Blackmore throwing a plate of spaghetti at Gillan backstage during the tour and not long after Gillan was out for the second time. The album charted respectably, but seems to lack much of a profile as time has passed and you’re more likely to see Namibia win the Rugby World Cup than Deep Purple ever playing anything from this live.
A strong album that never sacrifices quality, and for those wanting to hear Purple at their melodic peak this is a vital listen as it makes a mockery of ‘Slaves And Masters’ and is more than the equal of ‘Perfect Strangers’ when considering anything Deep Purple post 1984.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)