The lights went back on for Deep Purple eight years after the group had disbanded. Their last concert had been March 15, 1976 and during July of that year it was announced that the band was no more. The classic Mark II line-up of vocalist Ian Gillan, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord, bassist Roger Glover, and drummer Ian Paice reformed during April of 1984 and promptly headed for the recording studio and concert stage. The group released Perfect Strangers during September of 1984, and while the album was a commercial success, it was its concerts that benefited the most from the reunion. Deep Purple became one of the premier concert bands in the world once again, consistently selling out halls and arenas.
Anticipation was high at the time of this album’s release. It lived up to expectations at the time, although in retrospect it was not as strong as their original Mark II releases. The music could have used a bit more structure as Ritchie Blackmore roamed a little too much on his own. Still, all the Deep Purple ingredients were present: energy, Ian Gillan’s incredible vocal range, Roger Glover’s thumping bass, Ian Paice’s thundering drumming, and Jon Lord’s creative keyboards. It was an album that just missed becoming a classic but was still better than much of the hard rock being produced at the time.
The two pillars of the album were the first songs on each side of the original vinyl release. “Knocking On Your Back Door” was typical Deep Purple hard rock. It had a seedy feel, which in this case was positive. The title track looked back to the best of their past as Jon Lord filled in the gaps between Blackmore’s solo excursions.
Two other songs of note were also included. “Mean Streak” was an up-tempo song that depended on Lord to drive the song along at a frenetic pace. “Wasted Sunsets” went in a completely different direction as it was a slower, ballad type piece.
Tracks such as “Hungry Daze,” “A Gypsy’s Kiss,” “Under The Gun,” and “Nobody’s Home” could have been better with a little more effort. And I can’t help but feel that the band was anxious to get out on the road, so it did not take the time to tweak the finished product in the studio.
Perfect Strangers isn’t essential listening but remains a good, if not spectacular comeback album for the most famous Deep Purple incarnation, a little over a quarter of a century after its initial release.