CD Review of One Eye to Morocco by Ian Gillan
Ian Gillan: One Eye to Morocco
Recommended if you like
Glenn Hughes, Paul Rodgers, Gillan
Label
Eagle
Ian Gillan:
One Eye to Morocco

Reviewed by R. David Smola

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I
t is a near impossible task for singers who are completely associated with a band to put out a record that has a distinct flavor and sounds separate from their day jobs. Many have tried, and the end product usually sounds like a record that the band would have cut anyway, regardless of which name occupies the artist’s slot. Ian Gillan, the unmistakable lead vocalist for the still-productive prog/rock pioneers Deep Purple has produced a record that not only is distinctive from his work in the band, but is as good as anything he has been a part of in the last 10 years. As the opening track unfolds, with a Middle Eastern accent featuring fabulous cello and saxophone work, Gillan establishes this is going to be a wonderfully different, expectation-defying trip.

Ian Gillan

Morocco is inspired, varied, and a terrific listen. This is an album that breathes; that provides space in between notes and, despite a slick and clean production filled with interesting textures and sounds, is simple and beautiful. Nick Blagona (who has produced discs for April Wine and Sea of Green and has mixed discs for everyone and their uncle), produced, engineered, mixed and mastered the record, and should send this to every producer in the world. It could serve as a blueprint for, and proof of, how a record can sound vibrant and alive when every possible frequency isn’t being crammed with sound. Gillan vocally is completely at ease, confident, and sounds as if he is having the time of his life, joyously skipping through this delicious 12-track smorgasbord. He vamps about, almost sounding as if he is having more fun than Mick Jagger, on "Ultimate Grove." He alternates between blues gospel licks on "Better Days" as the song slips in and out of moods.

The subtle touches and fills added by guitarist Michael Lee Jackson almost steal the album. His restrained but brilliant accents add detail to the music, and although the style is different, it’s reminiscent of the brilliant guitar work of the Police’s Andy Summers. Summers was focused on adding nuances to accent the melody and the overall song, subtly adding magic to the overall track; Jackson’s work here is reserved, but incredibly effective. He adds texture and tone and never wastes a note. His playing is the perfect complement for these songs.

Blagona and Gillan utilized a variety of instruments to tell the story of One Eye to Morocco. Cellos, piano, Wurlitzer organ, every size and shape of saxophone and a Flugelhorn all contribute to the wonderful material here. Even with all the interesting instrumentation, no song ever sounds overwhelmed by the production. It is flawless and refreshing. This is as good as any record released this year, and who would’ve expected that?

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