Deep Purple released Abandon on this day in 1998.
This album was recorded at Greg Rike Studios in Orlando, like its predecessor Purpendicular. It arrived in the band’s thirtieth year as an institution, at an interesting point in their history. It was the last Deep Purple studio album of the 90s, which had seen them fluctuate majorly in styles and had featured contributions from four different lineups, matching only the band’s experience in the 1970s in turbulence. This was ended with Steve Morse’s entry into the band in 1994, which calmed the waters and helped create a more positive group dynamic; by this point he was in his fourth year with the group.
By virtue of being the last album of the 90s, it was the last studio album the band put out in the twentieth century. In something no one within the band or observing them could have expected, it was also the last album to feature founding member Jon Lord. Lord would pull out of a tour in 2001 due to a knee injury, and retire for good from the band in 2002. While he received some writing credit on Bananas, he was not present for the sessions.
The album features a heavier, darker quality than Purpendicular. It also includes a meditative quality to it, especially notable on songs like “Watching the Sky”, which deals with themes of isolation and mental illness. This reflectiveness is perhaps appropriate for the changes about to sweep the world with the turn of a millennium, not to mention the impending personnel change of the band.
This album was also the first album to feature the band rerecording old music of theirs, in this case “Bloodsucker” from In Rock. While the band had rerecorded “Hush” in the 80s, it had not been included on any albums. Until Whoosh!, whose setlist includes “And the Address”, is released in August, Abandon will be the only album to have a rerecorded song.
The title of the album came from a pun which was fully realized during the tour supporting this album, “A Band On Tour”. This tour saw them visit Australia for the first time in fifteen years. The last time they had been there was in 1984, when they were early into their reformation and their Perfect Strangers Tour. Another major historical note came from August of 1998, during which they shared the bill with Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Dream Theater. This month of dates ended up being the last tour ELP ever undertook before permanently splitting up, only reuniting for a single one-off gig in 2010.
Overall, the album is not well-regarded by fans, with most claiming they failed both to capture their original energy and to provide any sort of worthy successor to Purpendicular.
While Abandon and the history surrounding it has been mostly overlooked, plenty happened around it that make this period worth looking into.
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Edit on 2020-08-03: Optimized for new site, grammar fixes