Veteran British hard rock legends Deep Purple have just released their 21st studio album, called Whoosh! at the same time founding KISS guitarist Ace Frehley has released a cover of Purple’s classic “Space Truckin'" which is now a jaw-dropping 48 years old, having been the last track on their seminal Machine Head album which also featured their most widely known song “Smoke On The Water.”
In another interesting KISS connection, Purple’s new album was produced by Bob Ezrin, producer of classic KISS albums like Destroyer, Music From The Elder, and 90s comeback album Revenge. This is the third album in a row that Ezrin has produced for Deep Purple.
To be perfectly honest I kind of lost track of Deep Purple and their music output after their 1984 album Perfect Strangers which was by the reformed classic Mark II line-up; the band has had so many lineup changes over the years it would require an article in itself to document them all.
The important thing to note I guess is that founding guitarist and controversial figure Ritchie Blackmore left the band for good back in 1993, and was later replaced by Steve Morse of American jazz rock band Dixie Dregs who has been with the band ever since.
So the current Deep Purple line-up for those keeping score at home is Ian Gillan (vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Ian Paice (drums), Steve Morse (guitar) and Don Airey (keyboards). Ian Paice is the only original member of Deep Purple still in the band having been around since the beginning in March 1968.
Deep Purple have always been more revered in Europe and other parts of the world than in America and it was disrespectful to the band that they were not even inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland until April of 2016; Lars Ulrich of Metallica inducted the band in and during his speech he said that Deep Purple were equals to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in their influence to every hard rock band over the last 40 years. Can’t really disagree with him; heck, Ian Gillan was even the vocalist for Black Sabbath on their classic album Born Again while taking a break from Deep Purple.
On Whoosh! Deep Purple have not really pushed any new musical boundaries; it just sounds like an old classic Deep Purple album recorded with modern technology. Sounds good and it's a solid album in their long discography; at this point in their career it would be unwise to put out something not familiar to their longtime fans. Ian Gillan is an awesome lead vocalist with a unique singing voice; no one else sounds quite like him and you have to love his patented high pitched banshee screams. Some cynics might criticize the album for being too derivative of their past work; give it a listen and you be the judge. Why should a band be criticized for sticking to what they love and know best though?
Meanwhile, Ace Frehley released his version of Deep Purple's "Space Truckin’" as the first single and video of his upcoming covers album called Origins, Vol. 2, which will be released on September 18, 2020. The music video is an animated space adventure, appropriately enough; it was an obvious song for Frehley to cover as his makeup costumed character in KISS was known as The Spaceman and he has also been called Space Ace throughout the years. He even changed the lyrics to "Space Ace Truckin’" in his version of the song.
Origins, Vol.2 is the sequel to 2016’s Origins, Vol.1 with both albums featuring Frehley covering music from artists that he grew up with and was influenced by; Origins, Vol. 2 finds Ace covering classic rock songs from Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Cream and Paul Revere & the Raiders among others.
Ace Frehley says he has been sober for many years now after having been known as an American version of Keith Richards with his past alcohol and drug use; it’s nice to see him on a roll lately, putting out albums on a regular basis now, some very good albums. Space Invader from 2014 was a great album, and Origins, Vol. 1 with the cover songs was cool, and now this new sequel after the album called Spaceman in 2018. After cleaning up his act Ace has been keeping a steady schedule of recording new material after years of being missing in action and not doing much; Most old school KISS fans really love it.
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Frehley is scheduled to play Warehouse Live here in Houston on May 14, 2021; it will be interesting to see if Covid-19 is under control by then and if the show can actually take place safely.
“Houston is a great rock and roll city. So is Dallas, so is Austin, you know I’ve played them all several times and always had a great response,” Frehley said when I interviewed him back in 2018. “You know there’s a lot of great rock and roll fans down there, I just make sure I wear my cowboy boots on those shows. [Laughs]”
His sense of humor and quirkiness in addition to his melodic guitar solos are some of coolest things about Ace and just some of the many reasons people love him so much; we could all use a dose of humor and fun music right now with COVID-19 bumming us all out. So check out Ace's new song now and the album when it comes out to lighten your load a little bit. Ditto with the new Deep Purple album. Classic rock is back in 2020 though it never really went away now, did it?