So what does the lead singer of Deep Purple do to pass the time while the group is on hiatus? The answer is he records and releases a solo album.
Ian Gillan is now in his mid sixties and his career spans four plus decades. He has served two stints in Deep Purple and in between formed his own Ian Gillan Band, served as the lead singer of Black Sabbath for a year, and sung the part of Jesus Christ on the original release of Jesus Christ Superstar. He has also found the time to release numerous solo albums.
He now returns in 2009 with his latest effort, One Eye To Morocco. While the album is weighted toward the typical hard rock that has made him famous, there are a few tracks that will be a pleasant surprise. I also found the album was a little mellower in places than many of his past solo affairs.
There are a number of songs that well make any follower of Gillan feel immediately at ease. “No Lotion For That” is just basic guitar based rock ‘n’ roll. It has a more stripped down feel than a lot of his recent work with Deep Purple. His voice may be a little lower than in his younger days but it still remains one of the unique instruments in rock music. “Change My Ways” makes great use of the harmonica as it combines with a thumping bass that moves the song along. “Texas State Of Mind” has a nice boogie feel to it as it just chugs away.
Three of the tracks veer from the norm and are outstanding. The title song begins with a flute and has an almost mid-eastern flavor to it. “Don’t Stop” is about as pop as Gillan ever gets. It has a nice shuffle guitar sound and is catchy light rock. “Better Days” is just about straight blues and could have come right out of the Louisiana delta. His voice descends to a lower register than usual and is backed primarily by a slide guitar. Only toward the end of the track does he soar into his high vocal range.
One Eye To Morocco is a fine addition to the Ian Gillan legacy. It should please not only the fans of his past solo work but is also appealing enough to gain some news fans as well. Now, if I can only find a copy of the limited edition vinyl life will be perfect.