Slaves And Masters

Deep Purple

RCA, 1990

REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker


This album always inspired something of a feeling of dread within me when I’d pass it by in the CD stores. Maybe it was the cover art featuring a mystical crystal ball and hints of a swords and sorcery theme. Or perhaps it was the dated ‘80s mug shots contained within the liners, with Ritchie Blackmore described as a ‘winger,’ Ian Paice a ‘centre forward,’ and other such nonsense. Right down to the ominous factor of it being Purple’s (un)lucky 13th studio album, there was something precarious about Slaves And Masters that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

At first, it sounds as if the band is trying to recapture the sound of Perfect Strangers. “King Of Dreams” nearly mimics the title track at first, with Jon Lord’s brooding introductory keyboards and Blackmore’s moody guitar accompaniment. When former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner kicks in on vocals, though, one just isn’t sure what to make of him. Faceless and bland, Turner brings his mainstream AOR vocal style to Deep Purple and dilutes the band to a Shallow Grey. The poppy chorus has a good hook to it, but it’s so commercial and so hopelessly ‘80s that it leaves one shaking one's head. Blackmore contributes not so much a guitar solo as an interlude, and Turner's lyrics lack the wittiness that was characteristic of Gillan's. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“The Cut Runs Deep” is closer to what listeners expect of Deep Purple, featuring a catchy, chugging guitar riff from Blackmore, and more of an energetic performance from Paice. A loud chorus gives the song a stadium rock feel, while Lord and Blackmore contribute some nice solos. A bit uneven, but not bad.

“Fire In The Basement” is the first above-average tune on the disc, with Blackmore and the band going for more of a classic rock sound. It could have easily been on a Mark II effort back in the day, and given the lack of originality on this disc, who knows, maybe it was a leftover!

A surprise highlight is “Breakfast In Bed.” It's got a catchy, upbeat guitar run, and Turner refrains from his usual melodramatic vocal delivery. In fact, I'd even go as far as to say that I enjoy his singing on this one, and the solo is quite nice -- I'd have liked to hear Ritchie delve into some country sounds for it. Not much of a rocker, but it would sound nice on the radio. The “Anyone's Daughter” of DP's ‘80s career, perhaps?

Sadly, things quickly careen downhill. “Love Conquers All” is a generic ballad of the most forgettable ilk, while things hit rock bottom with “Too Much is Not Enough.” Opening with a faded-in guitar riff stolen from KISS's Creatures Of The Night, the song kicks into gear with a soaring synthesizer riff, reminiscent of a superhero theme! Wow, just wow. It almost sounds like a rejected theme from the Ghostbusters movie. Once Turner chimes in with the lyrics, it's a tragicomic situation: “You're so / Extreme / You're super-heavy! / You're one step over the line!” Part of me would pay to see the current Deep Purple lineup play this stinker live, just for the comic value. What on Earth was Ritchie thinking? Sadly, the comedic value of this number makes it more entertaining than half the stuff on this disc.

In the end, Slaves and Masters’ greatest offense is that it is generic and utterly devoid of style -- something which the reunited Mark II lineup had in spades six years earlier, with hits like “Perfect Strangers” and “Knockin’ At Your Backdoor.” Blackmore’s decision to recruit Joe Lynn Turner in an effort to churn out mainstream pop hits makes this album a forgettable chapter (more like a single paragraph) in Deep Purple’s storied history.

Rating: D-

User Rating: F


A D- is too high for this piece of shit.

© 2008 Ben McVicker and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.