In 2013, Deep Purple released NOW What?!, their 19th studio album. I called it the best Purple studio album since Perfect Strangers, released almost 30 years beforehand. It also topped our Best Vintage Rock Studio Albums of 2013 list, which in a year of new efforts from heavy hitters like Black Sabbath and Paul McCartney, says a lot. While the album didn't reach its potential in the U.S., it fared well in Germany, Russia, Czech Republic and Poland, going Gold, as well as entering the British Top 20 chart for the first time in 20 years. To build on the momentum, a Gold Edition of NOW What?!, featuring bonus tracks and a second disc of live performances, has been issued.
My full review of NOW What?! was full of praise, although there are a couple of dips in the road like "All the Time In The World," which actually gets better with each spin, and the novel curiosity that is "Vincent Price." The extras on the Gold Edition an upbeat rocking B-side to "Vincent Price" called "First Sign Of Madness," and a very un-Purple-like take on Jerry Lee Lewis' "It'll Be Me" are nice enough for agile listeners, but were likely left off the original album for good reason.
The second disc is really what Deep Purple fanatics will want: 12 live tracks from shows on the band's summer tour through Europe in 2013, mixing new with old. Renowned for their command of the concert stage, Purple musters up enough sage, spirit and creativity to make even old warhorses like "Strange Kind Of Women," "Black Night" and "No One Came" sound fresh and energized. Steve Morse gets to let his fingers roam over the frets on the instrumental "Contact Lost," from Purple's 2003's album, Bananas. The four songs from NOW What?! - "Vincent Price," "All The Time In The World," "BodyLine" and "Above And Beyond" - meld well with the staples, very much in the style and groove of Deep Purple. The live stuff may not ring with quite the same clang as Made In Japan, but it's still musically intricate, well played and fiercely executed, as only Deep Purple can deliver.
If the Gold Edition of NOW What?! isn't enough to tide you over, there's a box set with the NOW What?! Live Tapes, a DVD with a 20-minute interview, NOW What?! The Singles ("All The Time In The World," "Vincent Price," "Above And Beyond,"), a T-shirt (large), poster and sticker. Even without the extra music and swag, NOW What ?! is a fine album on its own. It's best to enjoy it because it might be a long time (if ever) before Deep Purple makes another one.
~ Shawn Perry