Rock fans, and especially Deep Purple devotees, had been hoping against hope that it could happen for years.
For all the bad blood, for all of the emotional ups and downs the band’s first phase of success in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was always that faint possibility that the classic Mk II line-up might find a way of working together again. On November 2, 1984, that became tangible, when the Blackmore-Gillan-Glover-Lord-Paice line-up released the reunion album Perfect Strangers.
The last three albums of Purple’s 1970s incarnation had not featured Ian Gillan on lead vocals or Roger Glover on bass; the last one, Come Taste The Band, had not featured guitar hero Ritchie Blackmore either. The internal tensions among band members that surfaced around that time had much to do with the intense recording and touring schedule that the band were subject to at the time, and the ill health it had caused.
For the second half of the 1970s and well into the 80s, all of the band went about their own noteworthy business, Gillan fronting his own band to chart success and Blackmore forming Rainbow. Their former band mates also expanded their musical horizons, in Whitesnake and with Gary Moore’s band, among other projects.
Then, miraculously, 11 years after the last Mk II Purple album, 1973’s Who Do We Think We Are, word emerged that the team were back together, and recording a new album in Vermont. Perfect Strangers charted in the UK on November 10, produced by Glover and the band, and became a dramatic new entry into a catalog that continues to expand excitingly to this day.
New music from a ‘now band’
“I think nostalgia is great, as long as you don’t start earning too much money off of it,” Glover said in 1985. “That’s why I prefer not to think of us as an oldies band. We’re a now band. We’re musicians living, breathing, working and making music right now.”
Listen to uDiscover Music’s Deep Purple Best Of playlist.
“The title track comes blasting out of nowhere,” wrote Deborah Frost in Rolling Stone, “like an I’m-alive-and-well message from an old friend you’d given up for dead.” Warmly received by most Purple fans, Perfect Strangers made its UK debut at No.5, their highest peak with a studio record since Burn reached No.4 in 1974.
US chart entry followed on the December 1 Billboard chart; Strangers became only the band’s second to go platinum in America (after the 1972 classic Machine Head) and reached No.17 in a 32-week chart run there.
Buy or stream Perfect Strangers.