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Deep Purple's still a machine as it heads for Freedom Hill

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Monday, August 3, 2015

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Roger Glover recalls North American tours of three to four months for Deep Purple back in the 70s.

He's happy not to be doing those now, but he is pleased that the iconic hard rock group is spending more time on these shores after finding it "hard to get a decent tour for many years."

"We've done this year and last year, which is good," the bassist says by telephone from Connecticut. "I think prior to that we were so busy in Europe. Our profile there is far higher at the moment, and probably in other places in the world, than it is in the States. We're sort of pigeonholed with the 'classic rock' tag and we're not seen as a current, working band -- which is what we are.

"You don't get that in other places. They don't have this distinction between old and new music. It's just music. O guess you just go where the business is."

Deep Purple does have a formidable past to live up to, of course. Formed during 1968 in London, the group's Mk.II lineup -- which features Glover and frontman Ian Gillan -- made the definitive "Machine Head" album with enduring favorites such as "Smoke on the Water," "Highway Star" and "Space Truckin'," along with acknowledged classics such as "In Rock," "Fireball" and the live "Made in Japan." But the group has released three studio albums in its latest incarnation, including last year's "Now What?," and Glover says he'll hold this lineup -- with guitarist Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Kansas) and keyboardist Don Airy -- up against any of its predecessors.

"Change is necessary," says Glover, 69, who was also for a time part original Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's other band, Rainbow. "A lot of people complain, 'Oh, Purple, they're not the same without Ritchie Blackmore. Of course we're not. That's the whole point. If you're going to change people, you have to take into account their personalities.

"I think we're a very natural band. We don't act. We don't put on a show or pose or so on. It's not a cabaret act. It's just five musicians playing from the heart, and any change has to be embraced."

Fans can get an earful of the current Purple on two Aug. 28 live releases --

"From the Setting Sun...(In Wacken)" and "To the Rising Sun (In Tokyo)," both from 2013 concerts. Meanwhile, the group has convened once already this year to star working on material for its next studio album, with another session set for September and plans to hit the studio in February, according to Glover.

"We always come up with the instrumental (arrangement) first and then Gillan and I do the words and (melody) lines and stuff," Glover explains. "It's like a salvage job, and sometimes it works better than others.

"The best ones happen naturally; they don't take any thought. 'Smoke On the Water' was easy, for example; it just tumbled out. But there's others you have to employ the craft rather than the art. It's a challenge, but it's one we enjoy, still, all these years along."

Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult and L.A. Guns

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway, Sterling Heights.

Tickets are $25-$99 pavilion, $10 lawn.

Call (586) 268-5100 or visit freedomhill.net

Web Site: www.freedomhill.net

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