Deep Purple first found success in 1968 when they scored a hit with Joe South’s “Hush.” The song was featured on the group’s debut album, Shades Of Deep Purple, which included other covers, like a a quirky, dramatic take of the Beatles’ “Help” and a raw stab at “Hey Joe,” which had already become a standard after the Jimi Hendrix Experience took it to the Top 10 in the UK in 1966. You could say that most everything Deep Purple has covered is heavily reworked to the band’s unique style. That’s certainly the case with Turning To Crime, the group’s all-covers follow-up to 2020’s Whoosh.
Clearly restless during the long pandemic layover, Deep Purple and longtime producer Bob Ezrin apparently kept going after Whoosh and dove headfirst into recording a batch of well-known songs, mostly from the 60s and 70s, that show just how creative and musically sound the band remains at this point in their storied career. Purple’s revival of Love’s “7 And 7 Is,” which opens the 12-song collection, is a prime example of how ferociously innocent and musically inventive certain numbers were during the mid 60s. Arthur Lee’s wide canvas of psychedelic melodies knew no bounds; in the hands of Purple, the opportunity to expand on the breaks was waiting to be exploited.
The choice is wide and varied from there. It seems like everyone wants to take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well’ to validate their tastes. With its extended instrumental passages, it almost begs for a Purple overhaul. Better selections are to be had, however. A swing through Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” goes a long way in highlighting the diverse and accomplished keyboardist Don Airey’s mad skills. Guitarist Steve Morse sizzles on a heated run though of Cream’s “White Room.”
The climatic medley, an amalgamation of Jeff Beck, Booker T, the Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin and Rascals riffs, makes for a tactful finale. Throughout the whole record, singer Ian Gillan keeps his vocals on track and in range, all too aware his infamous screams are no longer necessary. Drummer (and the only founding member still onboard) Ian Paice and bassist Roger Glover are, as always, in sync and on the mark.
There’s nothing particularly profound or eloquent to say about this record other than it’s a pleasant reminder that Deep Purple’s ”Long Goodbye” has no end-date in sight. As long as they keep churning out a cohesive sonic assault of their own and other’s music without stumbling or lowering their standards, what else are they going to do? They’ve been on a roll with Ezrin for nearly 10 years and they’re not about to go down without a fight — even if it means Turning To Crime.
~ Shawn Perry