Some people just can’t get along and so it was, is, and probably always shall be for Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple fame. The fou-year reunion of the classic Mark II line-up of Deep Purple came to an acrimonious end during 1989 when either Gillan was fired by Blackmore or quit on his own, which really didn’t matter as the band was in need of a new lead singer by then.
Enter Joe Lynn Turner and the formation of the Mark V line-up. He had been the lead singer of Blackmore’s solo band Rainbow, 1980-1984. His stint in Deep Purple would be fairly short, 1989-1992, and produced only one studio album. When I rank the singers that have fronted Deep Purple; Turner probably lands on the bottom. He is an excellent singer in his own right but his voice was different from what one was accustomed to hearing from Deep Purple. It is gritty and in some ways more mainstream than the sonic nature of Ian Gillan and David Coverdale.
With Turner hired as the singer, the band went in to the studio and released Slaves And Masters during October of 1990 before setting off on a very successful and lucrative tour schedule during 1991. The album remains an afterthought in the large Deep Purple catalogue. It was a little too slick and polished in places as the band moved in a commercial direction. It ended up sounding like a cross between a Rainbow and a Deep Purple album that did not reflect the best of either.
Oddly I find the best of the album bunched at the beginning as the first three tracks are all pretty good. “King Of Dreams,” “The Cut Runs Deep,” and “Fire In The Basement” all come the closest to Deep Purple’s brand of classic hard rock. Blackmore’s guitar solos and Lord’s keyboard runs harp back to the Deep Purple of old. The instrumentals kept Turner’s vocals under control and if all the tracks could have gone in this direction, the album would have been more representative of the band’s legacy.
The final six tracks are basically generic filler. They even stoop to ripping off some Kiss riffs on a couple of tracks. While in and of themselves they may not be terribly offensive, they are certainly not up to the band’s past standards.
The life of the Mark V line-up would be brief. A surprise new lead singer was coming and stability was in the band’s future. No doubt there are people in the Deep Purple universe who will praise this album, but in the final analysis it is only for fans who want everything Deep Purple.