As a purple fan I am surprised that this album never got the recognition it deserved. 30 years down the line one can see the true value of this album. It dosn't sound dated at all.
Though more mellow compared to the likes of 'In Rock' and 'Machine Head' it still kicks ass.
Ian gillan is amazing on this one, he is solely responsible for the different flavor of this album as he tries to sing more conventionaly. He avoids screaming giving feeling giving and a simple flavor to the songs.
He does a great job on 'Smooth Dancer' sadly too much of electronic effects keep the song from becoming a great masterpiece.
'Rat bat blue' is also a great rock number as is the now famous but overplayed 'Woman from Tokyo'.
Gillans magical vocals give a soul to 'Place in line'. 'Our lady'is probably the only Mark -II song with no solos either from Ritchie or Jon. The song s good nice and mellow.
On the extra tracks 'painted horse' is an amazing song. Vocals by Gillan are different and very soulful. This song could not make it on the original LP as Ritchie thought Gillan had messed up on the vocals (how? one wonders). The other extra songs are not exceptional rather different versions of the same songs.
I love this album because of its different feel as well as the undercurrent of pain in Gillan's vocals and lyrics, maybe his feelings at the time considering the imminant break-up of Deep Purple.
This is the last real masterpiece by the Mark - II line up. All their later material though good would never reach the levels of the first Mark -II output.
Buy this and 'Fireball' to get a different flavour of Mark -II Deep Purple which is as good as the more popular albums mentioned above.
As Ritchie has once said, "Deep Puple is much more than just 'smoke on the water'".