The title of Deep Purple’s new covers album, Turning To Crime, is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement from the English hard rock legends as to just how divisive and contentious such projects can be: indeed, interviewed in the current issue of Classic Rock magazine, which comes with an exclusive, official 4-track Purple EP, vocalist Ian Gillan admits that he was “totally against” the idea initially, admitting, “I thought the purists, and myself, would see something like this as criminal, metaphorically. it’s awfully cheeky to think that you can improve on the originals, which are embedded in everyone’s mind.”
One man who knows all about the fury which can be unleashed when covers albums meet with fan disapproval is Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse. It’s a lesson the Ohio-born guitarist learned the hard way, after recording alternate takes on six classic Ozzy Osbourne songs for a one-off project with original Blizzard of Ozz band members, and the songs’ co-writers, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake.
Together with Australian vocalist Jimmy Barnes (plus guest keyboardist Don Airey, now a colleague in Purple), Morse recorded the songs under the band name Living Loud, and released them in 2004 on the groups’s self-titled debut album. It’s fair to say that the album did not meet with wholesale approval from Ozzy Osbourne loyalists.
“We tried out some different things with the songs, which Bob really liked, and ended up with something a little bit different,” Morse recalls. “And my God, the floodgates of Hell opened up! Some people absolutely lost their minds, and we received all manner of abuse.”
“So, having been through that once, I’m prepared for some backlash again,” the guitarist adds, with a knowing laugh. “But there‘s always the possibility that some people might like it, I suppose.”
Ian Gillan, for one, is a fan,
“I really love this record,” he says emphatically. “You can always tell if you feel proud of a record if you play it a few times afterwards and really listen to it, which isn’t that case with all the records that I’ve made! But I have played this one, and I’ve played it to my pals, and I played it in a bar, and I’m very happy with it. It’s harking back to why we do what we.”
Deep Purple’s Turning To Crime album is released on November 26.
For a deeper dive into the making of the album, plus features on Van Halen, Rush, The Darkness and more, pick up the new issue of Classic Rock, on-sale now.