If Life Was Easy
Roger Glover & the Guilty Party
On top of him being the longtime bassist of Deep Purple, Roger Glover is a songwriter, producer and instrumentalist of amazing depth and style - as is evident on his solo CD If Life Was Easy. Enlisting a group of musicians around him he calls the Guilty Party, this stellar 16-song disc came to fruition for Glover during a decade he calls "turbulent".
The CD opens with a sloppy, guitar and featuring some fantastic, quirky instrument layering, with Glover playing ba?lama (that odd-stringed instrument with a bowl like-bottom, most commonly used in Turkey), giving the tune a shaky Middle Eastern resonance. There's also Randall Bramblett's great sax work at the end.
We all know a guy like Glover won't see mainstream radio airplay, but this tune would do well as a lead-off hit. As a big fan of Nazareth, it's great to hear their sandpaper vocalist Dan McCafferty going over the top on "The Dream I Had" (Nazareth was one of many bands/artists Glover has had a hand in producing over the years), with a perfect slide by Oz Noy and some truly grumbling low bass work from Glover. "Moonlight," a slower bluesy number, features Glover's wife Gillian on vocals and some exquisite fretless bass playing from you-know-who.
The best songs on "Life" are the ones where it's all Glover. "The Car Won't Start" basically features him playing almost all instruments and singing on what is a great white reggae tune - with some fantastic harmonica playing to boot! "Box Of Tricks" is a dirty, tour de force with one other musician: drummer Elliot Deneberg, The title track showcases some of Glover's acoustic guitar playing, reminiscent of Leo Kottke (no mean feat to be sure). "Staring Into Space" is a sea-shanty-like acoustic tune with a great vocal from Glover. All these song feature the full lyrical expression of Glover's turbulent decade.
The full complement of the Guilty Party is evident on the rousing "Stand Together," a gospelly roll featuring Randall Bramblett on vocals, Don Airey on piano and Oz Noy on guitar, captured with that full rich production Glover does so well. "Feel Like A King" feels the most Purplish of all these songs, a great hard-rocking number with vocals from Glover and Sahaj Ticotin.
If Life Was Easy is about the best produced, written and played album you're going to hear all year. Roger Glover brings the full range of his powers to bear. There isn't one moment wasted or one misstep. The musicians are spot on, the songwriting shows depth, and the lyrics are in keeping with the age of the artist and his experiences. Do you get the idea? I like this CD. Purple fan or any kind of music fan - you owe it to yourself to grab If Life Was Easy.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.