By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
www.deep-purple.com Web site could be a contender.
And true to his word, the average length of the tracks on Raptures is more than five minutes as Deep Purple look to chisel their rock riffs into the consciousness of anyone who listens. Rock fans in Japan will soon get another chance to experience this for themselves as the veteran rockers return for a five-date tour kicking off on May 17, following the band's appearance at last year's Summer Sonic.
After Japan they will headline Britain's Monsters of Rock festival, along with Alice Cooper, Journey and Ted Nugent, before a trip to Hell--that's the Hell Music Festival in Norway which, incidentally, nominates an official "ambassador" each year. That office was bestowed upon Jon Lord in 2003, but by that time he, like other early members of the group, had already left Purple.
Wizard of the keyboards Lord was actually a founding member of the the group and after he left in 2001, to be replaced by Don Airey, only drummer Ian Paice remained as a survivor from the band's late 1960s origins.
For the upcoming Japan tour, Paice will be joined by Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover from the "classic" Mk. II version of the band that recorded the highly acclaimed Machine Head album.
But wait a minute, isn't there someone missing? Weren't Deep Purple responsible for one of the most famous guitar riffs in rock history and an intro that has plagued guitar shops for the past 30 years?
In other words, where is Richie Blackmore, the man in black who gave birth to "Smoke on the Water"?
Blackmore's temperamental nature has seen him quit the band not once, but twice, most recently in 1994, though it seems that the split long since became permanent with ex-Dixie Dregs axman Steve Morse custodian of the six strings for more than a decade now.
The original Purple formed in England in 1968, taking their name from the title of a 1930s sentimental piano piece, written by Peter De Rose, which apparently was Babe Ruth's favorite tune. In fact Ruth liked it so much that the composer regularly performed at the legendary baseball player's birthday bashes.
Purple's debut single was a cover of Joe South's "Hush" that reached No. 4 in the United States, but it was "Black Night" in 1970 that cemented their popularity when it peaked at No. 2 in Britain.
As for "Smoke on the Water," this is a song with a history. In 1971, just prior to laying down tracks in Montreux, Switzerland, the Montreux Casino was engulfed by a fire that broke out during a Frank Zappa concert on the other side of Lake Geneva, and the group watched as the smoke drifted across the water.
The track was included on Machine Head and later turned up on Made in Japan, a live recording of shows in Tokyo and Osaka in August 1972 and one of rock's most enduring live recordings.
More than three decades later and Gillan's look at 60 is more Daryl Hall than Ozzy Osbourne, his long mane replaced by a sensible middle-aged crop, though Glover could easily pass as an aging rock star.
Raptures of the Deep was well received last year and Roger Glover, in an interview with www.metalexpressradio.com in March this year, said: "Overall I think it's a fairly good effort. It is one of those moments that catch the band at a certain point in time, much like Made in Japan."
Maybe not Made in Japan Part II, but if the band are thinking of recording another live album, how about waiting until next month for Purple in Perdition?
Deep Purple will play May 17, 7 p.m. at Mielparque Hall in Fukuoka, (092) 771-9009; May 18, 7 p.m. at Kosei-nenkin Kaikan in Osaka, (06) 6341-4506; May 19, 7 p.m. at Nagoya Civic Assembly Hall in Nagoya, (052) 241-8118; May 21, 5 p.m. at Ax in Shibuya, Tokyo, (03) 3402-5999; May 22, 7 p.m. at Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho, Tokyo, (03) 3402-5999.