"One Eye To Morocco" (Eagle; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I won't bother reiterating here that Ian Gillan has long been my favorite rock'n'roll vocalist. I'll just assume that anybody who's read any of my earlier reviews of Deep Purple or Gillan's solo work already knows that.

What makes "One Eye to Morocco" stand out from Gillan's earlier work is the relaxed confidence he exudes throughout the CD. I've never met Gillan personally, but I have a feeling this album comes closest to who he really is. Complex, peaceful, carefree, thoughtful. All of these traits are evident on "One Eye to Morocco," making the album a truly unique, absorbing, listening experience.

The tone is set with the title track with its exotic guitars and soulful tune. Things perk up a bit with the next track, the humorously entitled "No Lotion for That" and its crunchier guitars and faster pace. A nearly calypso rhythm rocks throughout "Don't Stop" while Gillan's harmonica supports the Dire Straits-ish "Change My Ways."

Another noteworthy track is "Deal With It," an ethereal rocker with Gillan's Deep Purple cohort Steve Morse performing all instruments.

I won't burden you with details of every track, but I will say the variety on "One Eye to Morocco" is amazing. Even more amazing, however, is Gillan's ability not only to sing each of these tracks with stunning, flawless success but his ability to write tunes as varied as those found here. Of course, he's supported by a stellar band, including not only the aforementioned Steve Morse but respected veteran Michael Lee Jackson on guitar on most tracks. If it weren't for the band's undeniable talent (and, in Jackson's case, songwriting expertise) "One Eye to Morocco" might not have been so successful.

Not the kind of album you'll want to put on when you're in the mood for something like Deep Purple's classic "Machine Head," but rather the type of music you'll want to listen to when you're feeling introspective and calm, "One Eye to Morocco" is one of my favorite albums of the year.

For more information, check out http://www.gillan.com

"Live in Anaheim" (Edel; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This complete, unedited performance by legendary Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, in support of his solo album, "Gillan's Inn," is one of the best live albums I've heard in years.

Spanning two discs and running over 102 minutes, "Live in Anaheim" features a terrific collection from throughout the years of Ian Gillan's illustrious career, including music from his bands, Deep Purple and Gillan, as well as Ian's solo material. 

The production (by Westwood One) is stunning. For the most part, "Live in Anaheim" sounds as good as many studio albums but still maintains its integrity as a live album. Plus, as Gillan himself says in the liner notes, "the band was tight as hell," delivering a nothing short of awesome performance, as evidenced by the groovy "Rivers of Chocolate" jam session track. 

Amazingly, Ian Gillan himself sounds almost exactly as he did on the original recordings of the songs performed here, including those songs that were originally recorded over 30 years ago. True, Gillan sometimes has a bit of trouble hitting the highest notes but, being one of the best rock'n'roll singers ever, he knows the right tricks to still make it sound great.

There are a few gripes here, although they're very minor in the big picture. First, Gillan's between song banter is recorded at a level that's so low it's almost impossible to hear at times. And what the hell is that tinkling synthesizer noise in the background of "Unchain Your Brain"? I think it's just a poorly chosen keyboard sequence but it almost sounds like corrupted MP3 compression. Thankfully, it only appears on this one song.

As I've said in reviews elsewhere on these pages, Ian Gillan is one of rock'n'roll's greatest singers and songwriters ever, and "Live in Anaheim" is more evidence of that point. Deep Purple fans will definitely want to add this to their collection, as, of course, will fans of Gillan and Ian Gillan's solo work.

Performing on "Live in Anaheim" are: Ian Gillan, vocals and harmonica; Rodney Appelby - bass, background vocals; Randy Cooke - drums; Micahel Lee Jackson - guitar; Dean Howard - guitar; Joe Mennonna - keyboards, saxophone, background vocals. Also featured is Michael Bradford, guitars on "Rivers of Chocolate," "Smoke on the Water," "Trouble," "Knocking at Your Back Door."

For more information, check out http://www.gillan.com

"Gillan's Inn - Deluxe Tour Edition" (Immergent; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

There is virtually nothing more I can say about "Gillan's Inn - Deluxe Tour Edition," that I didn't already say about the original release of Gillan's Inn. It's still a great album, the mix is still questionable, and it still cements Ian Gillan's position in rock'n'roll as one of the genre's greatest singers ever. The only thing I can add to my review of the original "Gillan's Inn" (below) is that, on this Deluxe Tour Edition, there's more of it.

No longer a DualDisc, but actually a CD and a separate DVD, "Gillan's Inn - Deluxe Tour Edition" contains three bonus tracks ("Demons Eye" featuring Jeff Healey and Jon Lord and live versions of of "Have Love, Will Travel" and "Wasted Sunsets"), plus DVD footage from the band's 2006 tour. 

The accursed mix mentioned in my earlier review sounds slightly better but I'm not sure whether it's been improved or if it's just my imagination. Either way, it still sounds like it could be clearer, and I still don't have the capability to play the reportedly much better 5.1 mixes (agreed, my fault, not Gillan's). 

Still, as I said in my first review, "Gillan's Inn" is an awesome CD, and it's even better because of the additional material here (the bonus tracks are simply excellent). Sadly, we don't have a three and three-quarters guitarsaw rating. If you're going to buy one of the two versions of this CD, however, I'd go with this one, simply because more is almost always better.

For more information, check out http://www.gillan.com

"Gillan's Inn" (Immergent; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Ian Gillan has long been my favorite rock vocalist and remains so today. His work with Deep Purple has given me a lifetime of entertainment, and he has co-written some of the great hard rock songs of all time ("Smoke on the Water," "Speed King," "Knocking at Your Back Door," etc.). "Gillan's Inn" is a celebration of his 40 years as a rock vocalist.

So I went into "Gillan's Inn" expecting it to be good but I was still surprised how good it really is. To understand why, you have to first understand the concept. With "Gillan's Inn," Ian Gillan has gone back through his illustrious career and chosen fourteen of his favorite songs from his days with Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Gillan. Then, with a few of his friends (who just happen to be some of the biggest gunslingers in the music industry), he has re-recorded them with stunning results.

Performing with Ian Gillan on "Gillan's Inn" are Joe Satriani, Janick Gers of Iron Maiden, Uli Jon Roth, Ronnie James Dio, Steve Morse, Johnny Rzeznick, Jeff Healey, Jon Lord, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Tony Iommi, Michael Lee Jackson and Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. 

Gillan's performance is stunning throughout. Although it's been 34 years since "Machine Head" was recorded, he sounds nearly as good today as he did then. With the awesome tracklisting and stunning list of guest stars here, there was little chance that "Gillan's Inn" wouldn't be an incredible album. And it is. Deep Purple fans, especially those who have followed Ian Gillan through the years, will love each and every track.

There is a dark side here and it's the only thing keeping "Gillan's Inn" from receiving the coveted four guitarsaw rating. The mix is terrible. There are several versions of the complete album on this DualDisc. The first is the CD side which sounds muddied and low in the mix. The second and third are .wma and .aac versions on the DVD side which are recorded at 128kbps and sound like Internet radio.  I have read online that the final version, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, is by far the best mix. Sadly, I don't have the capability to play and/or fully enjoy those. It's quite maddening to have music this good be this hampered by bad sound quality.

Still, "Gillan's Inn" is an awesome record, a CD that celebrates one of rock'n'roll's true greats by allowing him to celebrate with some of the biggest talents in the business.

For more information, check out http://www.gillan.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2009 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10 Jul 2022 15:03:28 -0400.