If you can’t get along with someone once, you probably can’t get along twice. The Mark II version of Deep Purple, vocalist Ian Gillan, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, drummer Ian Paice, keyboardist Jon Lord, and bassist Roger Glover, was just over three years in into their reunion. While their catalogue of albums continued to sell well and they had developed into one of the premier concert attractions in the world, there was trouble in paradise, again.
The bickering continued as they entered the studio to record what would become The House Of Blue Light. What emerged was a better album than the psyche of the band would have indicated when they arrived in the studio. They didn’t break any new ground, and the music was basically predictable, but at this point in the band’s career, familiar was welcome.
In retrospect, as the album has settled into its place within the Deep Purple pantheon of releases, it remains a professional, very polished (for better or worse), modern hard rock release. The biggest criticism was the lack of energy and creativity, which ultimately resulted in Deep Purple drawing on their experience to copy the Deep Purple of the past, which they did fairly well.
It’s an album that provides a good listen when you want to get away from the head-banging intenseness of their better material. “Call Of The Wild” was a mellow outing. It was also catchy as if it was created with the goal of producing a hit single in mind. It was an unusual performance by the band and remains the album’s best track. “Mad Dog” went in a different direction as it returned the band to their fast-paced past. “Dead Or Alive” even carried the message about the dangers of drug use. “The Spanish Archer” had a superb Blackmore guitar solo at the end.
A number of the tracks may not have been among the best the band has produced but, when taken together, created a likeable flow. Songs such as “Bad Attitude,” “Black & White,” “Hard Lovin’ Woman,” and “Strangeways” are Deep Purple pure and simple.The House Of Blue Light’s legacy was as the second of two albums created during the first reunion of the Mark II line-up. It is not the place to start when exploring the music of Deep Purple, but it’s a nice place to visit every now and then.