Deep Purple has, over the course of its life, released 21 albums, 45 (yes, 45) live recordings, and earned countless awards while seeing its albums go gold and platinum (some multiple times platinum for that matter). For all that the band has done over its life, there is one thing that it has not done. That one thing that the band has not done is release a covers collection. That is until this week. The band released its first ever covers collection, Turning to Crime Friday through earMusic. The 12-song (technically about 16 because of the medley that makes up the record’s finale track) record is an interesting new presentation from the band. Its interest is due in large part to its featured covers, which will be discussed shortly. The band’s performances thereof are of their own interest and will be discussed a little later. The songs’ sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection’s presentation. All things considered, they make the compilation another interesting addition to this year’s field of new covers sets and an equally interesting first ever covers set from Deep Purple.
Deep Purple’s first ever covers collection, Turning to Crime, is a unique new offering from the band, especially considering that it is the first time in the band’s more than 50-year life that it has released a covers set. The record stands out in part because of its featured songs. The songs are of note because of their diversity. The band takes audiences all the way back to 1946 in this collection with a cover of Louis Jordan and His Tympani Five’s hit single, ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ and all the way up to 1973 with a take on Little Feat’s fan favorite song, ‘Dixie Chicken.’ Along the way, there are also covers of songs from the likes of Fleetwood Mac (‘Oh Well’), Jimmy Driftwood (‘The Battle of New Orleans’), and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels (‘Jenny Take A Ride’). Also featured in this collection are covers of Bob Seger’s ‘Lucifer,’ Cream’s ‘White Room,’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Watching The River Flow.’ The song styles are so different from one to the next. Case in point is ‘The Battle of New Orleans.’ This song was originally considered a country music song. ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu’ by Huey ‘Piano’ Smith is…well…a boogie woogie type composition. Little Feat’s ‘Dixie Chicken’ meanwhile is more of a roots rock type work while yet another song, ‘Lucifer’ is more rock oriented. Simply put, the songs that are featured throughout this record show a wide range of styles and sounds from one to the next. It makes for its own appeal.
What’s more some of the songs are more well-known than others and vice versa. They are not all major hits/standards that so many other acts might cover and have covered. Case in point is Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well.’ According to research, the song was not a major hit for the band here in the U.S. but fared much better in the U.K. and around the world. It peaked at #55 in the U.S. and #2 in the U.K. ‘Dixie Chicken’ is another example of the record’s lesser-known songs. It was never actually used as a single for the band’s album by the same name, but has been considered a fan favorite among the band’s most devoted audiences. ‘Jenny Take A Ride,’ on another note, peaked at #10 in the U.S. following its debut in 1965, and #44 in the U.K. So again what audiences get here in terms of the songs is a collection of compositions that is diverse not only in its sounds and styles, but also in its overall familiarity and popularity among audiences. That the band clearly put some thought into this aspect of the record is to be highly commended. The band’s performances thereof are of just as much applause as the songs themselves.
One of the most notable of the performances featured in this record is of ‘Shapes of Things.’ Originally crafted by The Yardbirds in 1966, the song peaked in the U.S. at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Meanwhile in the U.K, it peaked even higher at #3 on the country’s Singles Chart. Deep Purple’s take on the song stays pretty much true to its source material. The only real notable difference is that instead of the production that was so familiar of bands of that era, Deep Purple instead put its own more familiar stamp on the sound here. Now, Deep Purple’s cover is longer than the original by more than a minute, clocking in at three minutes, 40 seconds versus the original’s run time of two minutes, 26 seconds. That is because Deep Purple adds in a guitar solo after the song’s initial break. By comparison the original song’s break is only momentary and does not feature the solo used here. Regardless, the solo – which is almost prog in its approach – is a nice touch to the whole. The keyboard solo added to the mix here also plays into the extended run time, but is also enjoyable in its own right. Overall, the whole of the cover is just as enjoyable as the original, just with a slightly new identity.
On another note, the band’s performance of Bob Dylan’s ‘Watching The River Flow’ is another example of the importance of the band’s performances here. Dylan’s original composition is a very distinct 12-bar blues style composition that is driven by its guitar and piano line. It conjures thoughts of so many vintage Mississippi blues songs through its three minute, 35 second run time. Deep Purple’s take on the song is slightly shorter, coming in at three minutes, five seconds. It is much different in its overall presentation, too. Instead of the 12 bar blues approach that Dylan took on his original work, the band took more of a blues based rock approach, if that makes any sense. The blues influence is there, in other words, but is more of a supporting role than the main star here. Instead, the band opted for more of a rock approach here. The band’s take is different from its source material, needless to say, but is still interesting considering that the band decided not to just copy and paste so to speak. It is yet another important example of the importance of the band’s performances throughout the collection.
‘Caught in The Act,’ which closes out the record, is yet another example of the noted importance of the band’s performances. This song is a medley of covers of ‘Going Down,’ ‘Green Onions,’ ‘Hot ‘Lanta,’ ‘Dazed and Confused,’ and ‘Gimme Some Lovin’.’ Again, the band puts its own unique touch to each song here. Case in point is the cover of ‘Green Onions.’ Rather than taking the subdued, cool approach used in the original, the band’s take on this song is more akin to something that one might expect from ZZ Top, what with the rich bass and guitar lines. The covers of ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Gimme Some Lovin’’ are just as unique in their approach as they clearly show Deep Purple’s trademark hard rock stamp. Yes, the original compositions are obvious in the mix, but Deep Purple’s trademark keyboards, guitars, etc. really amp up the songs and make them interesting in their own right. When these covers are all considered along with the other covers examined here and with the rest of the record’s featured performances, the importance of the band’s takes on the featured songs shows its importance just as much as the diversity in the songs themselves. This is still not the last of the record’s most important elements. The collection’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
As noted already, the songs that are featured in this collection are diverse throughout the record. While they re diverse, their sequencing keeps the record’s energy stable from beginning to end. This is the case even as the songs’ sounds and stylistic approaches change from one to the next. The up-tempo works move so fluidly and solidly, ensuring listeners’ maintained engagement, again, because of that smart sequencing. It basically doubly keeps things interesting for audiences and brings everything full circle to complete the record’s presentation. When the appeal that is ensured through the record’s sequencing is considered along with the featured songs and the band’s performances thereof, the whole makes Turning to Crime rare proof that in this case, crime does pay. Yes, that awful pun was intended.
Deep Purple’s first ever covers collection, Turning to Crime, is an interesting offering from the band. It proves itself worth hearing at least once in part because of its featured songs. The songs are important to the presentation because they are diverse in their styles, sounds and notoriety. The band’s performances of the songs are just as important to the record because they give the songs unique new presentations while staying mostly true to the original compositions. That gives audiences even more reason to remain engaged and entertained. The songs’ sequencing rounds out the record’s most important elements. That is because it ensures the songs’ diversity is fully audible while also keeping the record moving fluidly from one song to the next, thus keeping the energy stable throughout. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the record. All things considered, they make the collection an enjoyable new offering from Deep Purple even being its first ever covers set.
Turning To Crime is available now.
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