Album Review: Deep Purple – Turning to Crime

By Larry Toering

Turning To Crime came out of left field with the idea of an all out covers album, and the first thing any real self-respecting fans thinks what has the now 4 time Purple producer gotten them into.  I still do not know exactly who came up with the idea and how fast it developed beyond the planning stage. But it must’ve taken many fans aback when they first heard they were doing this, including myself who also quickly ditched that once I heard the first cut. So then, what left to do but anticipate what you never thought would happen. Once I was on board it all started to make better sense, and once I saw the track list it got interesting.

First of all, “Dixie Chicken” stood out as the biggest sore thumb for me, with nothing really standing out to anticipate besides Cream’s “White Room” and perhaps “Shapes Of Things” by the Yardbirds and the magnificently delivered “Oh Well” by Fleetwood Mac. With that being said, the album opens with “7 And 7 Is” by Love and follows with “Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu.” But the latter three tracks have all been lead with videos before the release, and that’s where I spot an issue because it’s not enough unless they follow it with more videos. I haven’t watched the making of the album DVD so I can’t say whether or not more video will be coming but it’s in high demand if any folks at the label are reading.

Once the album was heard in full, I wasn’t disappointed but would still suggest the former either way. It’s tracks just that like “Jenny Take A Ride” by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and “Let The Good Times Roll” by Ray Charles & Quincy Jones are enormously satisfying, if even in the most Gillan and Glover ways. I just think most of the album has that going for it as well as some fantastic work by the other three players to spice it up really well. And it’s not like the perfect album will ever be made, but it’s nice to hear this band play anything, so it’s a wash at worst. I just wasn’t anticipating so much variety, but that’s what the base really thrive on anyway.

Then there’s the culprit “Dixie Chicken” I thought was the most out of place in the track selection of which they had over 40 to choose from before narrowing it down to 14. Boy, was I glad to be wrong for 98 percent of it, and the one percent only being the exclusion of some female backing vocals. But with that being the case, I am really without complaint about it. I thought it wouldn’t groove somehow, especially because this is a lockdown mail in recording, which is something Deep Purple have obviously never done before. I do like it, but it could’ve went the other way.

“The Battle Of New Orleans” is credited to Lonnie Donegan and Johnny Horton, which in fact it was written by Jimmy Driftwood, but those two did two of the most popular versions. It should be noted that for the first time in history, Roger Glover takes the lead vocal to start with the first verse before Ian Gillan joins in and the two of them take it out. It’s quite the ride if you like Gillan and Glover’s solo work together, or if you’ve even heard them doing bits of this track live for many years now. Lots of fun here for sure.

But there are some down factors, and one of them is “Shapes Of Things” by the Yardbirds, while not bad at all, could’ve used some better vocal treatment. Think Gary Moore here, from the version he did with Ian Paice. Think Nazareth and their outstanding version. I just think they could’ve done something extraordinary but left it a tad flat for their usual genius. It’s the same on paper for the Bob Seger System’s “Lucifer” but Ian Gillan really pulled it off here, and I believe Don Airey could’ve stolen the show but he for some reason decided not to. He does do a fantastic job but had he stolen the show then maybe the vocals wouldn’t shine as much.

Turning To Crime winds down with the most excellent “White Room” by Cream, which really saves the day for the most part, with Steve Morse standing out when he takes the ending solo to a place this song surely has never been. Instead of doing a full-on Clapton, he does a full on Morse/Purple solo that sends a hot shiver up the spine. The vocals also cut it here immensely, as where I have to say it was another thing I was wondering how he’d pull off but he aced it. But the whole band catch fire on “Caught In The Act” with a 7 minute romp including jams from everyone from Freddy King and the Allman Brothers, to Led Zeppelin and Spencer Davis Group.

At the end of it all we get some outstanding covers which get the total Purple treatment and win based solely on that factor. “Oh Well” sports a video to die for, which really nails the whole project if we see no more video, as suggested we do. I consider that a gift from EarMusic, but let’s have some more once the album is out, please. “Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu” also comes with a cartoon clip but we really don’t consider that a video. However, it’s not too bad so it qualifies. The tasty “White Room” and the vicious “Caught In The Act” are all my peak picks, with a soft spot for not ruining “Dixie Chicken.” The crime does have to pay for some of its errors though, which are yet to be determined but some clues have been provided.

8.5 is the sentence

Track Listing:

7 And 7 Is (Arthur Lee)
Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu (Huey Smith)
Oh Well (Fleetwoord Mac)
Jenny Take A Ride! (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels)
Watching The River Flow (Bob Dylan)
Let The Good Times Roll (Ray Charles)
Dixie Chicken (Little Feat)
Shapes Of Things (The Yeardbirds)
The Battle Of New Orleans (Lonnie Donegan/ Johnny Horton
Lucifer (Bob Seger System)
White Room (Cream)
Caught In The Act (Medley)

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