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Ian Gillan Band: Child In Time - Album Of The Week Club review

Ian Gillan's return to music after a break heralded a jazzier, funkier approach from the former Deep Purple frontman

Ian Gillan Band - Child In Time cover art
(Image: © Polydor/Oyster)
Ian Gillan Band - Child In Time

Ian Gillan Band - Child In Time cover art

(Image credit: Polydor/Oyster)

Lay Me Down
You Make Me Feel So Good
Shame
My Baby Loves Me
Down the Road
Child in Time
Let It Slide

When Deep Purple’s classic Mk II line-up disintegrated for the first time, a pissed-off and disillusioned Ian Gillan aimed to quit the music business for good.

Gillan really had no intention of rock’n’rolling again, especially after Purple’s old management team had expressed indifference about a diverse set of songs he’d knocked up with session musicians at Kingsway in spring 1974. But the following year Gillan received a fateful phone call from Roger Glover, his old mate and bass player from pre-Purple combo Episode Six.

Glover was staging his Butterfly Ball live show at London’s Royal Albert Hall on October 19, 1975. Ronnie James Dio, then of Ritchie’s Blackmore’s Rainbow, had pulled out and Glover needed a replacement singer urgently.

“I agreed to help Roger out," Gillan told Classic Rock. "Dio was supposed to do it but Ritchie told him he’d get fired from Rainbow if he did. So I’ve got Ritchie to thank for my return to music. The reception at the Albert Hall was so incredibly warm. I realised I really did enjoy singing. That was when I got the calling again. I returned home, took out my guitar, and I wrote three songs the next day. It was a renaissance for me.”

Recruiting guitarist Ray Fenwick, bassist John Gustafson, keyboard player Mike Moran and drummer Mark Nauseef, Gillan launched a new band under the bizarre moniker of Shand Grenade.

“Fenwick and Gustafson invented that name," said Gillan. "It was a twisted idea about trying to make Shangri-La explode! I went along with it, but soon they called me to a meeting. ‘No one seems to be interested in Shand Grenade,’ they said. ‘We’d better call it The Ian Gillan Band instead.’”

The Ian Gillan Band’s 1976 album Child In Time was centred on a reworked version of the title song made famous on Purple’s In Rock album. A minor success, it snuck into the chart at No.55.

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Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in July 1976

  • Big Ones - The Beach Boys
  • The Clones Of Dr. Funkenstein - Parliament
  • Olias Of Sunhillow - Jon Anderson
  • Howlin' Wind - Graham Parker And The Rumour
  • More Than Ever - Blood, Sweat & Tears
  • Year Of The Cat - Al Stewart

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What they said...

"Deep Purple fans were outraged, Heavy Metallurgists ran shrieking for cover. But Ian Gillan's first post-Purple project remains one of the hardest, loudest and most exciting of all the mothership's myriad offspring - and the fact that Child in Time is such a brutally funky album only amplifies its achievements." (AllMusic (opens in new tab)

"Even if the band is excellent and the singer is in great shape, this is not Ian Gillan Band´s best moment. They would eventually grow much more confident. powerful and convincing in 1977´s Clear Air Turbulence. Child In time is interesting affair, but little more than that. Recommended only for fans and collectors." (ProgArchives (opens in new tab))

"Ian's yells are intact, and his band sounds excellent, but Child in Time is just a hit-or-miss collection, with the addition of an old anthem thrown in for good measure... not the best Gillan album, significant in several regards, but far from memorable." (RateYourMusic (opens in new tab))

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What you said...

Evan Sanders: Ouch. After listening to this, I understand why I never heard it being played on classic rock stations. At best, it is a serviceable album with no truly bad songs. Well, except for the remake of Child In Time, which made me want to go back to the original. This is a less successful attempt of re-recording classic rock songs with a jazzy feel, unlike how Sting did this more better with some of the Police catalog. I am reminded of Spinal Tap's venture into improvisational jazz rock, until Nigel rejoined them and turned it up to 11. 4/10.

Bill Griffin: I have never listened to Ian outside of Deep Purple before and this, coming before his voice changed, is a pleasant surprise. It retains just enough of the Deep Purple vibe (particularly lesser-known tracks like Never Before and Into The Fire) to be immediately accessible while changing it up enough to be interesting. Unlike other reviewers here, I quite liked this version of Child In Time but I am in agreement with at least one of them that Let It Slide is the best track.

Greg Schwepe: Ian Gillan is a decent hard rock singer. Nothing more, nothing less. So, what to do when you leave a high-profile band that had great success? Well, you do your own thing to pay the bills and hopefully sell a few records. And you also name an album after a song that was one of your showcases in your former band. Might help to sell a few of those albums.

Child In Time is an interesting 35 minute listen. Seven songs, and two of them total 18 of those minutes. And my normal review test is “can I listen to the whole album without skipping through something I can’t stand at all?” This album passed that test.

Songs 1-4 are kind of funky sounding rock songs with the same vibe. We get to Down The Road and Gillan veers into a jazzy sounding venture. Again, nothing in those first five songs that made me scramble for the fast forward button.

Then we get to the last two songs and 18 minutes of the album. I really like this version of Child In Time. Again, this was one of Gillan’s showcase songs in Deep Purple. Ironically with the keyboards it sounds like something that could be on Rainbow’s Rising!

The album finishes with Let It Slide and is 11 minutes of a cool atmospheric instrumental? Wait, is it an instrumental? Got lost several times listening to it and wondered “Dang, have there been any vocals yet?” Maybe they could have cut a good 5-6 minutes of that slide guitar.

This is just an average album by a decent hard rock vocalist. My take on Ian Gillan is that if you asked people outside this group to list your Top 10 rock vocalists/frontmen…Gillan would not appear in the list. That list would include Mercury, Plant, Roth, Daltrey, Bowie, Perry, and so on. Those that are revered either for their vocal prowess or audience holding skills. And then if you say “What about Ian Gillan?” “Oh yeah, he’s really good, didn't think about him.” Not that he’s forgettable, it’s just that his style is to suit the song and not doing anything crazy on stage. 6 out of 10 only because it’s just OK!

Brian Carr: Probably a differing opinion in this club, but I’ve never been a big fan of Ian Gillan’s voice, which kept me from delving too deeply into Deep Purple with him on the mic. Thus I wasn’t gung-ho about this week’s choice.

I was quite surprised to find tracks like Lay Me Down and My Baby Loves Me - kind of funky in a similar manner to the direction Purple went with Glenn Hughes aboard. I also heard a similarity I never placed before with Gillan - he occasionally reminds me of Joe Walsh, especially when coupled with the slide guitar work on Let It Slide and on the slow jam Down the Road.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Child In Time. There is some excellent guitar work and the funky fusion jams hit me in my musical wheelhouse. There are moments in which Gillan validates my opinion of his voice - when he starts screaming on Down The Road and Child In Time, I wonder if he’s trying to sing or if he was in some kind of excruciating pain (howling cat mode?). Those spots were rather brief and rare enough to not overshadow the many enjoyable moments. Another great album choice!

John Davidson: Jazz rock. Two words that strike dread into the hearts of heavy rock and metal fans.

Thankfully the emphasis here is on rock rather than jazz but it turns out to be small comfort. Maybe jazz meant something else in the mid 70s but this is just mediocre, relaxed, lounge paced rock music. The version of Child in Time never gets into high gear and while it is pleasant enough it is utterly pointless.

The first side of the album is similarly uninspiring. It's not bad, but it is all a little tepid. The final track Let it Slide is well named encouraging the listener to drift off to sleep with its somnambulant pace.

Ian Gillan was clearly an artist trying to find his feet (he would take a few more albums in limbo to do that).

The follow up Clear Air Turbulence has at least got a decent Chris Foss cover (and a bit more commitment to the jazzy side). It wasn't until he recruited the talented Mr Torme on guitar that he properly hit his stride with Mr Universe, Glory Road and Future shock. This first solo effort however is stuck in the doldrums . A generous 4/10 for Gillan's voice.

Richard Cardenas: Listening to it for the first time and will fight to get through it. Musically, I like it. Lately I’ve been revisiting music that did not originally appeal to me and have discovered a new found appreciation for it. This might work for me if Gillian did not scream so much.

Got through it and found some redemption. The remake of Child in Time was great and the last cut was pretty good.

Keith Jenkin: Remember persevering with this one and both the remake of Child In Time and the lengthy Let It Slide are a interesting listen but it came out around the same sort of time as Rainbow Rising so in the post Purple pecking order it was no surprise which title spent more hours on the turntable.

Adam Ranger: Not heard this before, have to admit. I like his solo stuff when he was Gillan a few years later. but cant really get into this jazz fusion effort. Not sure if Gillan was determined to go in a very different direction to Purple on purpose, or he was more interested in his bike engine company, hotel and recording studio enterprises. But I have heard he let the musicians do pretty much what they wanted.

I cant imagine anyone preferring this version of Child In Time to practically any other version ever. But hey, I admit I have never been one to enjoy Jazz fusion much. Kudos to Gillan for the change of direction, but I wont be in a hurry to listen to this again..

Kaa Gee Walsh: I had the Scarabus album before I found this album in a deletions bin. I just looked it up on YouTube and gave it a spin. A so-so album in my opinion. I liked the 80s albums when he rocked a bit harder. I just came across Gillan's album with Roger Glover, Accidentally On Purpose. I remember having this on cassette and liking it. It's time to revisit it. Cheers.

Darren Burris: Not really my cup of tea. Lots of screaming but you gotta expect some of that with Gillan. A couple of these songs would sound at home on a James Brown album. Probably a 4 or 5 from me.

Mike Canoe: Those fearing something akin to Spinal Tap's Jazz Odyssey need not worry. Instead, Ian Gillan, one of the great voices in rock'n'roll, flexes some different muscles with mixed results.

The first couple of songs, Lay Me Down and You Make Me Feel So Good, actually sound like business as usual, if a little funkier, not too unlike what Tommy Bolin and Deep Purple had done the year before on Come Taste the Band. The lyrics are Gillan's usual peculiar line of pillow talk, and on You Make Me Feel So Good, he cuts loose with one of his amazing screams. Shame and My Baby Loves Me are more of the same, but a little less memorable. The original side one ends with the affably shambolic ballad, Down The Road, replete with another Gillian scream.

Then there's side two, consisting of two long songs. The first is a soft reworking of possibly Deep Purple's best (if not most popular) song, Child in Time. The arrangement isn't bad and still has a lot of weight and pathos, but, here, Gillan's screams let him down. The escalating wails that were so powerful in the original version by Purple now sound more like a petulant toddler pitching a fit. I wish the band had just stuck with beautiful vocal harmonies of "ooh-ooh-oooohs."

The almost twelve-minute Let It Slide takes well over two minutes to get going. Once it does, it rolls languidly along, only occasionally breaking a sweat. It doesn't sound particularly jazzy or progressive, mostly just long, but fine in its own way.

When I hear the words "jazz fusion," I don't panic because I think of great albums by early Santana, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock, Stanley Jordan, or albums with or by the late great Tommy Bolin. Child in Time is nothing like those albums.

As the saying goes, "You gotta dance with the one that brung ya," and Gillian eventually returned to the hard rock his fans craved. Being "born again" may not have worked out as hoped, but being the front man for Deep Purple turned out to be a decent career choice after all.

Gary Claydon: When contemplating how to describe Child In Time the best I could come up with is... I don't hate it.

It's been a good while since I last heard this album but time hasn't done anything to change my opinion of it.

I'm a big Ian Gillan fan and I totally understood his desire to give out-and-out heavy rock a bit of a swerve for a while. Trouble is, Child In Time is just a bit, well, forgettable. Side one is one of those where you have to keep checking the sleeve to remind you of the song titles. You Make Me Feel So Good is the pick, maybe because it's the most 'rocky'. 

I've always wondered if the title track was included as some kind of contractual thing, the label saying "give us something we can sell, a Purple classic maybe". Otherwise, I see no point. I can't imagine for one minute that this is how Gillan wanted this song to sound as opposed to the Purple original. Maybe it was just self-indulgence or even Ian Gillan wanting to mess with our heads. Then there is album closer Let It Slzzzzzzz.... Actually, it's OK in places but goes on way too long. Splice together the best three and a half minutes or so and it could be a decent track. 5/10.

Alex Hayes: It's 1976, and Ian Gillan is faced with a bit of a dilemma. In the three years since leaving Deep Purple, Gillan has been a busy chap. He's put his time and money into quite a few different business ventures, some not music related. He's invested in motorcycle engines, splashed out three hundred grand on a country hotel and restaurant (with a guitar shaped swimming pool no less), and taken ownership of the Kingsway Studios in London. Fair play to Gillan for trying to do something different with his life.

It's not gone well though, and Gillan now stands at a crossroads. Hmm, what would be the best way to arrest the slide of these last few years of setbacks? Well, getting back up on stage would be a no-brainer for a start. Doing so via a new 'progressive jazz rock' outfit though? I'm not too sure about that part.

Progressive jazz rock. I've added those parentheses above as those are Wikipedia's words, not mine. They don't describe Child In Time, the debut album from the resulting Ian Gillan Band, particularly well. This really wasn't very jazzy at all. Not to my understanding of the term anyway. I hate jazz rock, and so was dreading this. However, it wasn't the horrific experience that I'd been expecting. Not great music, but serviceable enough. Perhaps the other Ian Gillan Band albums fit that description better.

The inclusion of a redundant cover version can really affect my appreciation of any given album, and, unfortunately, Gillan goes for the jugular in that regard here. I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with this album's title track, if I didn't have the classic Purple original to instantly compare it to. This lounge music flavoured remodel doesn't get anywhere close to that benchmark. As such, it ends up coming across as pointless to me. I actually found myself much preferring the following track, the epic album closer Let It Slide.

The rest of the album I would categorise as bland, but inoffensive. Whilst putting this review together, I reacquainted myself with both Glory Road and Future Shock from the 'back to the script', more classic rock oriented, successor band, Gillan. Talk about chalk and cheese. I would strongly recommend both of them over Child In Time, which sounds tame by comparison.

That reconfiguration, from the Ian Gillan Band to simply Gillan, was necessitated by the commercial failure of the former. Although Child In Time did decent business in Japan, it quickly became clear that most rock fans everywhere else in the world were no more tempted to pick up a copy of this album than they were to stay for a few nights in Gillan's hotel, and take a dip in his oddly-shaped swimming pool.

This is a mediocre album all told, despite not being the godawful, jazz drenched, racket that I'd been steeling myself for. It got Ian Gillan singing again though, and set him back on a path that would see him both rediscover his mojo with Gillan (the band), and also eventually throw in his lot with Ritchie again. Child In Time deserves credit for that.

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Final Score: 6.57 (57 votes cast, total score 375)

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