More than fifty years ago, Deep Purple started on a road that would eventually make it one of the most popular and revered acts in the music business. This Friday, the end of that road will start coming into view when the band releases its 21st and possibly last album, Whoosh! If in fact the album is the band’s last, then it is a presentation of the band going out on top. That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly. Its lyrical themes play into its presentation just as much as its musical arrangements. They will be discussed a little later. The album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make Whoosh! one of this year’s top new rock albums without question.
Deep Purple’s forthcoming new album Whoosh! is an unquestioned success for the veteran rock band. From beginning to end, the 51-minute album offers audiences plenty to appreciate, beginning with its musical arrangements. The arrangements by and large present a sound and approach that is classic Deep Purple. At the same time, the album also shows the band moving in a new direction, giving hope that maybe, just maybe this album does not mark the beginning of the end for the band. Of the album’s vintage style works, one of the most notable is ‘The Long Way Round,’ which comes late in the album’s nearly hour-long run. Guitarist Steve Morse and bassist Roger Glover form the foundation for the song’s arrangement while keyboardist Don Airey, drummer Ian Paice and front man Ian Gillan add their own touches to the song. Between Morse’s straight forward riffs Paice’s equally simple, straight forward drumming, Airey’s approach on the keys and Gillan’s expertly honed vocals, the whole sounds like a work that would fit on any of the band’s existing records. Much the same can be said of the bluesy arrangement at the center of ‘No Need To Shout.’ This song’s arrangement is another direct throwback to Deep Purple’s catalog in so many ways. ‘Dancing in my Sleep’ meanwhile is more of a modern work that mixes some prog elements with its traditional rock side. The best explanation that can be made is that it has a bit of a bluesy, prog-fusion sound in its arrangement that stands out from most of the band’s existing body of work. It holds its own so well alongside the rest of the album’s songs and in turn proves its own worth in the bigger picture of the album’s musical content. When all of this content is considered along with the rest of the album’s musical content, the whole of said content makes this aspect clearly a key aspect to Whoosh! It is just one of the album’s most important elements. The record’s lyrical content adds its own share of appeal to its presentation.
The lyrical themes that are featured in Whoosh! are largely social commentaries. Case in point is the song ‘Drop The Weapon.’ It comes across as a commentary about the level of violence that is happening in the world today. As Gillan sings in the song’s lead verse, “Everybody’s shouting/Working up a sweat/Steppin’ on the lines/You know what happens next/More trouble/Than anyone can use/It’s a predetermined thing/You lose your right to choose/No way to turn it around/You’ve got no more time to calm yourself down/Once you push the button, man/It’s comin’ to a head/Pretty soon, babe/You’ll be a long time dead/Little brother, I’m telling you now/Your pride can take a hit/Little brother/Take a breath/Cool off, man/Forget about it/Drop the weapon/Kick it away/Drop your gun the other way/Drop the weapon/Live another day/Drop you blade/Listen to what I say.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Who you trying to impress…You just a small kid/Now you’re reputation got a minor stain/It’ll be washed away by tomorrow’s rain.” From there, Gillan makes note of “streets of violence”, again making clear the statement here. This is a reaction to the violence that has ravaged America and the world. It is a heavy topic to take on, but the band has done an impressive job of handling it here. It’s just one way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so pivotal to its presentation. ‘Nothing At All’ is another key example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.
‘Nothing At All’ comes across as a statement about what has happened to the planet in general and how humans have impacted the Earth. In fact Gillan made mention of that in a recent interview, noting that the song is a reaction to the lack of concern that humans are showing for the planet. He sings in the song’s lead verse, “I’m talking to myself again/Waving to a passing friend I’ve known since I don’t know when/Just a few of us walk arm in arm/It’s innocent and charming/The children seem to be getting alarmed/Don’t worry kids/It’s nothing at all/When I hear about the doom and gloom that’s around the corner and coming soon/I take a sip of mother’s ruin and sit with my back to the wall/It’s nothing at all/And the old lady smiled/It’s nothing at all/And she blew all the leaves off my tree.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “And the junk that sails our seven seas/Is very nearly up to my knees/But the platitudes and pleasantries/Keep saying it’s nothing at all/I’ll deal with it on another day/If I close my eyes it’ll go away/So bottoms up, boys, and what do you say/Really it’s nothing at all.” Gillan’s commentary is proven without doubt here. It is a sharp, yet playful indictment of the indifference that so much of the world seems to have taken in regards to the direction that things have taken and that they are taking around the world. It’s a theme that is certain to resonate with listeners, and just one more example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. ‘Man Alive’ is one more example of that importance.
‘Man Alive’ is a somewhat post apocalyptic song, and makes its own statement. Gillan talked about the song’s theme in an interview with Billboard, noting that it asks the questions, “what is the use of one man?” The song uses the noted post apocalyptic setting in which that one man is the only living human on Earth to raise the question. It really is a deep concept. Gillan sings in the song’s lead verse, “All creatures great and small/Graze on blood red soil/And grass that grows on city streets/It’s been a quiet town/Since the juice went down/Now something’s washed up/On the beach/A man alive.” From there, the story is told about how mankind was erased from the planet. The song’s video adds in imagery of a nuclear power plant, garbage, and chemicals being pumped into the air to help illustrate and translate that bigger message of what one person can do. This song is, overall, a lyrical discussion on being more aware of everything happening and taking the time to make a difference in any way possible. It goes hand in hand with so much other lyrical content featured in this album. It is just as engaging as that noted other content. When all of the album’s lyrical content is featured together, it leaves zero doubt as to the role that it plays in the bigger picture of Whoosh! It all proves to be just as important to the album’s presentation as the record’s musical arrangements. The two elements together more than make the album worth hearing. Of course they are not the album’s only important elements. Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
The sequencing of Whoosh! is critical to its presentation because it does just as much to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the album’s content. On one hand, listeners are led to believe that the record may in fact be sequenced as a concept album of sorts. That is inferred as the album’s booklet (and track listing in the album’s case) separates the album’s tracks into two “acts.” The first act is composed of the album’s six songs and the second its next six. The bonus track ‘Dancing in my Sleep’ serves as its own standalone song. While this critic has not succeeded in finding any discussion on whether that was intentional, it can only be inferred that dividing the album in such fashion would make it exactly that, even though band member Ian Gillan has said the album’s title does not bear any significance. The clear messages in the album’s lyrical themes would hint that this likely was intended to maybe not be a traditional concept album, but a concept album nonetheless. Maybe it is meant to deliver a dozen songs that tell the overall story of where the world might be headed, considering again the lyrical content.
On another level the album’s sequencing ensures its energy remains relatively stable from start to end. There are some stylistic changes here and there, such as in ‘Nothing At All,’ ‘Step By Step,’ and ‘Man Alive’ that help to break up the album and keep things interesting. ‘Man Alive’ is especially interesting because it has higher energy moments and more reserved moments all within its five minute, 36 second run. Keeping it in mind along with the songs that are more up-tempo throughout the album, the whole of the album’s energy rises and falls at all of the right points. What’s more, it keeps the album’s lyrical themes changing up from one to the next, making for even more interest. Keeping this in mind along with the importance of this album’s overall content, the whole of it all makes Whoosh! a powerful new offering from one of rock’s most respected (and rightfully so) acts. If it is indeed the band’s finale, then it is a fond farewell for the band.
Deep Purple’s 21st and potentially last album Whoosh! is a welcome return for the band. There is rumor that this could be the band’s final album. If indeed that is the case, it shows the band is going out at the top of its game. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements, which present audiences with familiar musical approaches but unique arrangements in their own right. The album’s lyrical themes presents some through provoking lyrical themes, adding even more to the album’s appeal. The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, making for an aesthetic appeal just as much as appeal for content. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this record. All things considered, they make Whoosh! one of the best of this year’s new rock albums. The album is scheduled for release Friday through earMUSIC.
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