Heavy rock’s Richard Burton-Elizabeth Taylor, Deep Purple once again welcome Ian Gillan back to the fold. But will the old magic return? And if not, is being fired three times from the same band some kind of record? Like post-war Britain, the Purps have lost an empire but have yet to find a role. Battle Rages On, however, is their most persuasive bid yet to recover the colonies, being a return to the basics of balls, brutality and flash that vaulted them to the toppermost over 20 years ago.
The title track stomps Eye Of The Tiger territory somewhat gingerly, but thereafter they juggle riffology and filigreed boogie to some effect. An undoubted asset, Ian Gillan’s voice is strangely muted in the mix, and even Ritchie Blackmore reins in the spanksmanship for the sake of streamlining.
Mostly, the fusion of Ian Gillan’s fire, Ritchie Blackmore’s ice and bassist Roger Glover’s lukewarm water, the songs throw up a few green shoots despite a recently fallow repertoire: Time To Kill punches the air con brio while Ramshackle Man bulldozes along on that mean and moody Green Onions riff, Jon Lord’s Hammond organ aptly stealing the show. No Machine Head, but at least a partial return to form.