ALBUM REVIEW - Don Airey's "One of a Kind"

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Don Airey

One of a Kind



If you’ve ever wondered what a Deep Purple album with Don Airey in charge might sound like, search no further than One of a Kind. That’s no complaint. Rather, it’s a reminder how inexorably his voice and that outfit have become since he joined DP’s ranks circa 2002.

Opener “Respect” flares with an intensity heard via Purple’s classic Burn LP; “Lost Boys” sounds like something that would be at home on a recording from the contemporary version of the band or, really, on anything from Perfect Strangers forward. Nazareth vocalist Carl Sentance doesn’t shriek like a young Ian Gillan but there’s a comforting familiarity in his timbre. Joining them is guitarist Simon McBride who proves himself a player of considerable taste and promise. 

Airey, though, has always enjoyed trippier, eerier terrain than many of his contemporaries. (His work with Ozzy springs to mind.) A number such as “All out of Line” remains in touch with its blues belt roots but it’s far more adventurous than a stroll through the great textbook of crunch chords. Moreover, his penchant for crafting memorable melodies remains very much intact (the titular cut, the exquisitely odd “Victim of Pain”). Airey also reminds us that he’s surefooted pianist on “Running Free.”

Fans of his most familiar AOR work (Whitesnake, for one) won’t be disappointed with “Want You So Bad” as it captures the spirit and spit of 1986 FM radio with aplomb. “Remember to Call” summons memories of Airey’s work on a few delicate, ethereal instrumentals during his time with Rainbow.

He did, of course, hang around Blackmore’s house long enough to lend his hands to “Since You’ve Been Gone.” A new, live version from Airey and band is one of a quartet from his major stops, including Purple’s “Pictures of Home” and Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues.” If you’re already familiar with those but want to know his work a little more deeply, seek out either of Cozy Powell’s solo discs (Tilt, Over the Top)or the fusion/prog unit Colosseum II.

Meanwhile, One of a Kind should keep you plenty busy as you try to unravel the depths of this artist’s particular sorcery.