Deep Purple’s album Purpendicular was released on this day in Europe in 1996.
Purpendicular was the first album by the band with a new guitarist in more than twenty years, with Steve Morse taking up the axe after Ritchie Blackmore’s messy departure in 1993. Morse had been playing and recording with the band for over a year at this point, having first worked with the band in November 1994 and beginning sessions for Purpendicular a few months afterwards. Singer Ian Gillan cheekily references the situation in “Ted the Mechanic” with a line that “the banjo player took a hike!”.
The album was recorded in Florida. Midway through, the group took some time off to tour, which Ian Gillan said at the first stop in South Florida was largely because they were so excited about the new material and wanted to share it.
I can’t tell you how.. , we were like little kids again in the studio, going through a renewal process. When the writing session went so well.., it wasn’t so much that it went well, it just was easy, it was just effortless.Roger Glover about the writing process for the album. Retrieved from here.
In interviews about this album, more veteran members of the band praised one another and Steve Morse alike, noting the vigor with which their colleagues were playing. From the first few seconds of the first song, “Ted the Mechanic”, that vigor is clear. Ian Paice, then one of two remaining founding members, combined perfectly with Steve Morse to bring the energy back. Funnily enough, according to Morse, he and Paice were the first two into the studio every day.
The rest of the album is a daring work, going through a myriad of styles and putting a heavy focus on the style of the band’s rookie member. Many of these received stage play over the years. One song from the album, “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming”, is still played regularly.
The album didn’t chart at all in the US, and only reached 58 in the UK. However, it did better in the rest of Europe. In Germany, it peaked at 20 and remained on the chart for fifteen weeks. In Finland, it reached #9. In neighboring Sweden, Purpendicular was even #3 overall for a week!
Reviews of the album, meanwhile, rank it as a strong effort, some even saying it’s one of the finest in Purple’s overall category. This record gave the band the new beginning they needed and proved to anyone listening with open ears and an open mind that Deep Purple’s quality and spirit isn’t tied to a single member, but instead is a collaboration between five talented people. Some have been consistent through the years, some are newer, but they’ve all given this band its fine character.
- Edit on 2021-01-24: Added German charting information. Added Finnish charting information. Optimized for new site.