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A Purple peace prevails as ‘The Battle Rages On’

“I clearly remember being quoted last year as saying, ‘I’d rather slit my throat than ever work with these guys again,’ ” Deep Purple lead vocalist Ian Gillan said. “But I look on Purple as sort of an ex-wife. We married in ’69, divorced in ’73. We remarried in ’84, divorced again in ’89. I’ve no intentions of getting married again, but every now and again, we meet in some sleazy hotel and have a wild affair.”

Although no scars appeared on Gillan’s throat, the famous Mark II Deep Purple Lineup that brought us their most famous hits, such as “Smoke on the Water” and “My Woman From Tokyo”– Gillan, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice and keyboardist Jon Lord — reunited for a “25th-ish” anniversary album, which was released Aug. 3. A tour is scheduled to commence in January.

The fitting clause, “The Battle Rages On,” landed on the title of the band’s Giant Records release, ostensible due to its infamous rocky relationships. However, Gillan claims the title is simply a “wicked” marketing plan on the part of Giant Records and Purple’s management.

“To be honest, that song was about the historical battle between love and hate, the sort of thing going on in Yugoslavia right now,” Gillan said.

“The Battle Rages On” is reminiscent of Deep Purple of old, along with a bit of Rainbow, Blackmore and Glover’s later incarnation. That’s probably due to Glover’s production.

But with the change in the terrain of rock music, how will this Deep Purple record fit in? “I feel much more comfortable putting out a Purple record now than perhaps a few years ago when all we had was Monsters of Rock and heavy metal,” Gillan said. “I think the rock situation is healthier than it has been in years, with grunge on one hand and the (Red Hot) Chili Peppers on the other. I think Purple fits comfortably amongst this lot.”

And, of course, there’s the big question — will the battle continue to rage on? “I think it would be best to first complete this tour without ripping each other to pieces like we used to do, and I’m optimistic of that,” Gillan said. “Then I think Purple will regain a little dignity and self-confidence. After six months or a few years, if somebody picks up the phone and says ‘that was fun; let’s do it again,’ then we’ll see. But basically I made a plan to make no plans.”

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