Like moths drawn to the flame, the Mark II line-up of Deep Purple reunited one more time. Joe Lynn Turner, former vocalist from Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, had been imported to provide the vocals for the band’s 1990 release, Slaves And Masters, which ended up sounding like a Rainbow album in many places. The Turner experiment ended after one album when Ian Gillan decided to return to the band, making the band’s classic grouping of Blackmore, Paice, Lord, Glover, and Gillan complete once again.
The reunion lasted for one album. Blackmore resented Gillan’s meddling with many of the already written songs. The resulting album, The Battle Rages On, issued during July of 1993, was a disjointed affair that featured many songs that seemed like Deep Purple was imitating itself and not quite getting it right. While it would remain as one of the top concert draws in the world, this album would mark the beginning of a commercial downturn in their album sales.
The Gillan and Blackmore reunion was like trying to combine oil and water. It ended when Blackmore quit in the middle of their 1993 world tour. Joe Satriani agreed to finish the tour as their guitarist.
The album itself was OK in places but in retrospect, many of the songs can be regulated to filler tracks and are further hurt by a sameness. Songs such as “Lick It Up,” “Solitaire,” “Talk About Love,” and “One Man’s Meat” just do not measure up to Mark II’s classic work.
On the other hand, there was a little life left in the band. The title track is excellent hard rock bordering on a metal sound. I can’t help but think that if the band had gone with this type of approach throughout the album, it would have been better off. “Ramshackle Man” had a nice bluesy feel to it. “Anya” is the album’s best track, as Ritchie Blackmore gave one last and great guitar performance.
There have been no more Mark II reunions since then. Ritchie Blackmore rode off into the sunset and formed Blackmore’s Night during 1997, which produced a far different sound than either Rainbow or Deep Purple. His relationship with Candice Night was also vastly different than his Deep Purple bandmates.
The Battle Rages On remains a somewhat forgettable album in Deep Purple history despite a few memorable tracks. It is not the place to start when exploring the music of the famous Mark II era of Deep Purple.