Deep Purple released The House of Blue Light on this day in 1987.
This was the second and final Deep Purple album of the 1980s. It was also the last album of Mark II’s second go-around, as Ian Gillan was fired the following year.
The album was recorded in Stowe, Vermont. Nick Blagona served as the engineer, and Roger Glover oversaw production.
The album creation was apparently quite difficult. It ended up being largely re-recorded after the first run-around, according to Ritchie Blackmore. Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Gillan have all since reflected negatively on their own part in the album, the general band cohesion at the time, and the feeling that they were bowing to external pressure. Apparently it got so bad that Gillan and bandmate Roger Glover decided to make a whole new album as a duo to get over the unpleasantness of making this one! This album was the eclectic Accidentally On Purpose, which was released the following year.
The sixth song on the album served as a call-back to the group’s work in the 1970s. Specifically, it was entitled “Hard Lovin’ Woman”, making it the distaff counterpart to the song “Hard Lovin’ Man”.
Critical and Commercial Response
General consensus on the album is mixed. The album itself sold decently well in several countries. It spent seventeen weeks on the German charts, reaching #1 for three weeks. It also reached #1 for two weeks on the Swedish charts; it was on those charts for eight weeks total. In their home country, the album just managed to break the top 10, debuting at #10 and spending nine weeks on the chart in total.
While it sold decently well, reviews criticize its gratuitous use of new technology and the lack of spirit. Others, such as Rolling Stone Magazine, were more positive, even saying it was the best the band had been since Machine Head! If you haven’t made your mind up on this one yet, I would recommend checking it out for yourself.
Coda-What’s In A Name?
As a note of trivia, the phrase “house of blue light” itself has a long history with the band. It first appears in “Speed King” from the album Deep Purple in Rock, released in June 1970. That itself was a reference to the song “Good Golly Miss Molly” by Little Richard, where Miss Molly was indeed rocking in the house of blue light.
To take it even further, there was a song from the mid-40s known as “House of Blue Lights”. The Little Richard song could well be a reference to this. There doesn’t seem to be a connection to either of these older songs on the album itself other than in the title, however.
- Edit on 2021-01-11: Optimized for new site.
- Edit on 2021-01-12: Added information on “Hard Lovin’ Woman”. Added information on chart performance.