Given Deep Purple’s standing at the time this album was much maligned overall and to this day is balked at by many, this stands as their poorest of the 70’s.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Deep Purple
ALBUM: Who Do We Think We Are
SERIAL: TPSA 7508
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Ian Gillan – vocals * Ritchie Blackmore – guitar * Roger Glover – bass * Jon Lord – keyboards, hammond organ * Ian Paice – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Woman From Tokyo * 02 Mary Long * 03 Super Trouper * 04 Smooth Dancer * 05 Rat Bat Blue * 06 Place In Line * 07 Our Lady
WEBLINKS: Site Link
A few weeks before the passing of Jon Lord I had already made the decision to review this album, simply because it is so poor. With Lord’s death I certainly see no reason to change that opinion, with the famed MK2 lineup of Deep Purple at the end of their rope both musically and professionally when this album came around.
True, ‘Machine Head’ was an undeniable classic, following the weak ‘Fireball’, but relentless touring had begun to break the band down right when they were approaching Led Zeppelin like status.
We’ve all heard the stories before, but Gillan had all but made his mind up to quit following the album and given its weakness it’s hard to argue with his decision years later. This was the first Deep Purple album I ever bought and when I was younger I probably thought it was a nifty hard rock album, but in reality it’s the bands 70’s version of ‘The Battle Rages On’.
I won’t deny ‘Woman From Tokyo’ isn’t a classic, but the one thing about this album that has always bothered me is the lack of sting in the production. The band doesn’t sound anywhere near as heavy as they had on their three previous albums.
I’m sure everyone reading this has heard this song over and over and over, particularly in the U.S. where it’s a stale staple of classic rock radio. Just for that I can go without ever listening to it again. As an aside I’m certain Steve Harris ripped off the bassline during the breakdown at the 3:16 mark.
The rot sets in immediately after this with the tepid blues rock of ‘Mary Long’, where the ‘going through the motions’ term really applies. It’s labored and all filler. ‘Super Trouper’ is a clunky track, short and with only a listenable solo by Blackmore to recommend it.
‘Smooth Dancer’ and ‘Rat Bat Blue’ are faster and heavier, more traditional Purple. The thin production hurts thm both and if they had been recorded in 1972 would have probably gone down as classics. Allegedly the lyrics of ‘Smooth Dancer’ revolve around Gillan’s disdain for Blackmore, a recurring theme over the years.
These songs save the album from plumbing the ultimate depths, because ‘Place In Line’ and ‘Our Lady’ are both abysmal. The slow, interminable drawl of ‘Place In Line’ is never ending and not even Blackmore and Lord’s interplay can save it. ‘Our Lady’ also grinds along at a dull pace, with dream like atmospherics and an absence of originality and inspiration. It sounds like a track from a Rod Stewart album.
As was Deep Purple’s want, there were only seven tracks on display and by all accounts that was a miracle judging from the mostly disastrous recording sessions. The studio outtake ‘Painted Horse’ derived from this album isn’t much better, following the same blues direction as much of the material.
Given Deep Purple’s standing at the time it still went gold quickly, but it was much maligned overall and to this day is balked at by many. Listening to ‘Burn’ makes me realize just how weak it really is. Purple clearly needed the change and this stands as their poorest of the 70’s. Is it as bad as ‘Battle Rages On’ though? Honestly I don’t think anything could ever surpass that for MK2’s worst, although the Steve Morse years, well that’s another story.
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