There's been a lot of good news coming out of the Deep Purple camp over the past year or so, what with releases of old live material and the critically acclaimed 'Now What?!' A great part of the reason for the success of the new Deep Purple album can be found in Don Airey's contribution behind the keys. Always respectful of the Purple credo, yet finding his own way of adding to the history of this great, old band, since he took over the keys from Jon Lord in 2002.
Not that Airey hasn't already left his finger print on rock history; the man played with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne, Sabbath, Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, the lot! So, yeah, he knows his way around the keys.
You can't put a finger on the band he's summoned around him either; Singer Carl Sentance (Persian Risk) has a great seventies rock voice, and does in instances sound somewhat like Gillan. On guitar we have Jamiroquai six-stringer Rob Harris, on bass Laurence Cottle (mostly known for jazz music, but also contributed to Sabbath's 'The Headless Cross') and finally Primal Scream drummer Darrin Mooney.
Apart from that, there are a number of guest appearances on the album, most notably Graham Bonnet and the late Gary Moore. Apparently the two tunes Mini Suite and Adagio are Moore's last recorded contribution to rock music. A fine way to leave the building, one could argue.
Album opener 3 in the Morning is a catchy and promising piece, and Beat the Retreat isn't too bad either. It's rocking, it's retro, it's cool.
With Blue Rondo a la Turk, the band kind of loses me. I'm not the big keyboard-wanking fan, and this is the first instance where Don really takes off and does his doodling. Even if the Mozart references are nice, it's too much for yours truly. I just don't have a nag for the parts that sound like a jam session (one of the things I never learned to appreciate in late-sixties and seventies music).
Let's just say that this happens on more than one occasion during the 11 songs of 'Keyed Up', and in that sense I'm only partly the target audience for an album like this.
Anyway, Solomon's Song starts out as a ballad, but turns into a powerful rocker with strong Hammond parts. Claire D'Loon is a bit too cheesy-bluesy for me, although it does reveal an impressive groove halfway in. Flight Of Inspiration is too frantic for me - too much doodling. Inside The Godbox is a weird interludium which leads into the remake of Rainbow's Difficult To Cure. Direct remakes of classical music I tend to like, and Beethoven's Ninth is a wonderful piece. What can I say.
Mini Suite with Gary Moore...how can I put this...I never was a big Moore fan. That coupled with the fact that this is the weakest vocal performance of the album, the suite, for me at least, doesn't really work until five and a half minute into the song (when it begins to sound like a Purple tune). The intrumental Adagio is much nicer in my view, much more classy piece. The tune Grace concludes the album, a bluesy rocker, again in the vein of Purple. Not bad, but not something which blows you away.
Overall, there's a strong, proggy, seventies feel to 'Keyed Up', which makes it a safe bet particularly for those who are fans of that era.
I can hear it's amazing, I appreciate the musicianship, I enjoy the classical elements in particular, but I also think the quality curve moves up and down a bit, and I do get bored when there's too much self-induldence and doodling (both guitars and keyboards).