Revisiting Ian Gillan’s post purple jazz-rock masterpiece

Ian Gillan caused quite a stir when he left Deep Purple at the zenith of their career in 1973. He caused another one when he emerged from the shadows a couple of years later, fronting a jazz-rock quintet under the name of the Ian Gillan Band.

Ian Gillan Band – The Rockfield Mixes Plus (Sing Song Music)

Release Date: 25 June 2021

Words: Ian Sutherland

Much different to the more straight-ahead rock of the band named Gillan that came after it, not all of Purple’s legions of fans took to the eclectic funky and jazzy tones employed by the band, especially when applied to some Purple classics in their live shows.

Of the three studio albums released between 1976 and 1978, the best received was the middle one, Clear Air Turbulence. Regarded as a forgotten classic by many, it featured the lineup of Ray Fenwick on guitar, Colin Towns on keyboards, John Gustafson on bass and Mark Nauseef on drums.

Recorded at the famous Rockfield Studios in Wales, there was some tension during the process, and Gillan himself was unhappy with the original results, leading to a major remix of the whole album before its release.

Now a mere forty-four years later, the album’s original mix will see the light of day.

Ian Gillan band

I have to say that listening to the original album release and then these remixes back to back, there is not a huge difference unless you really focus on the detail.

I think I’m generally with Mr Gillan. The remixes that were released at the time sound brighter and more sonically pleasing than the darker tones of these Rockfield mixes.

The quality of the music still shines through with Fenwick’s fluid guitar runs and Nauseef’s mastery of the tricky beats and time signatures standing out.

The songwriting is strong throughout, with the title track and Over The Hill in particular still sounding memorable and impressive. The tunes have aged really well and still sound fresh and exciting four decades on.

Unfortunately, the bonus material doesn’t maintain the high standard with live recordings that aren’t as good as the Live At Budokan album versions.

But there are a couple of decent instrumental backing tracks plus an interesting interview with guitarist Ray Fenwick about life in the Ian Gillan Band.

The less said about the supposedly humorous This Is The Way, the better.

An interesting release then, but one for the purists and collectors. There’s always plenty of them around for a legend like Ian Gillan, though.

For more info, visit rayfenwick.com and https://singsongmusic.com/news-ian-gillan-band-live-concerts-and-rarities-come-to-singsong-music/

Ian Gillan: lead vocals
Colin Towns: keyboards, flutes
John Gustafson: bass, vocals
Ray Fenwick: guitars, vocals
Mark Nauseef: drums, percussion

Tracklist:

1. Over The Hill
2. Clear Air Turbulence
3. Five Moons
4. Money Lender
5. Angel Manchenio
6. This Is The Way
7. Goodhand Liza
8. Apathy (Backing Track)
9. Over the Hill (Live)
10. Smoke on the Water (Live)
11. Interview with Ray Fenwick
12. Mercury High (Backing Track)

Ian Gillan Band

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