Perfect Strangers was Deep Purple’s reunion album from 1984, with the classic Mk II lineup.
It was the perfect reply to Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Outdoor of 1979. Perfect Strangers could be one of their best works. If not, it’s certainly their most rounded, at least until 2005`s Rapture of the Deep. It’s a rock album from start to finish, and really, they never sounded so good together. Anchoring the album are 2 songs, “Knockin’ At Your Back Door”, and the title track. Both are rooted firmly in the Purple hard rock plan. They’re extensive, hulking groaners that allow Ritchie Blackmore the freedom to play his guitar. Jon Lord’s organ adds the glue that holds the band together, giving us something to pay attention to while there are breaks in the action. The organ is most powerful on “Mean Streak”. It’s a throwback to the primitive energy of their olden days. But it’s also here that we see exactly what Deep Purple really is: a rhythm band. Bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice keep the whole thing grooving, while Lord’s keys and Blackmore’s guitar insert accents of zing. Gillian’s voice sits atop all this, telling a story of a intoxicated girlfriend. On “Hungry Daze” we hear influences acquired during the band’s time off. Gillian’s voice, at times, sounds like his stint with Black Sabbath. Blackmore adds guitar work that reminds me of Rainbow. The next track is “Not Responsible” Gillian’s “funk you” anthem, where he explains that he’ll do anything he wants, and accept no responsibility for his actions.
Perfect Strangers was a atypical album for Deep Purple. Never had the band sounded so cohesive. Never had they managed such a consistent sound over an entire album. Perhaps that’s why they called the album Perfect Strangers. Maybe they were five musicians, so diverse that they were strangers to each other in fact. Infinitely different people, that complimented each other perfectly. A piece of pure magic in my opinion.
Highlights: Knockin’ At Your Back Door, Under The Gun, Perfect Strangers, Gypsy’s Kiss and Wasted Sunsets.
NOTE: Be sure you get the Polydor version of this disc and not the 1999 Mercury/Universal version re-master, it just seems to breath better in my humble opinion.