Now Hear This: Gillan

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     When Ian Gillan quit Deep Purple in 1973 I’m not sure what he thought he had up his sleeve but it took him three years to release his first album with his solo band, billed as the Ian Gillan Band, and he named the album Child In Time after the Deep Purple song of which he recorded a new version for the album. That’s not exactly what I’d call cutting the cord, but the music on Gillan’s first solo album was a departure from what he’d been doing with Deep Purple, the question being, was a departure necessary, and did he head off in the right direction? I have seen the album described as jazz-rock fusion and that might not be wholly inaccurate. It’s not a great record. Two more lightweight albums followed before Gillan wisely decided on a change of direction. He swiftly formed a new band, recruiting guitarist Bernie Tormes, keyboardist Colin Townes, bassist John McCoy, and drummer Mick Underwood. Dubbing the band simply Gillan they recorded a heavy rock album called Mr. Universe which came out in 1979. Songs like “Secret of the Dance” and “Roller” are not that unlike Deep Purple’s more upbeat material, but with a twist. It’s great stuff.

     The band’s next album, 1980’s Glory Road, was a top ten hit in the UK. The band’s sound was drifting closer and closer to heavy metal. Album opener “Unchain Your Brain” is a great proto-metal tune.

     The band’s 1981 album Future Shock would hit number two on the UK album charts. The title track is a great hard rocker.

     As the cover art would indicate this is a heavy metal album, tried and true. Check out “The Ballad of the Lucitania Express.”

     In that same year, 1981, Gillan would release a double album called Double Trouble, the first record containing brand new studio recordings and the second record live recordings. The band mellowed out on the studio stuff and the keyboards gained more prominence. It was at this point that Bernie Torme quit the band, apparently over a money dispute. He would soon resurface as a temporary, emergency replacement for Randy Rhoads on the Diary of a Madman tour. Torme’s replacement in Gillan would be future Iron Maiden member Janick Gers.

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     Janick Gers’ time in the band would be short-lived. The band’s next album, Magic, was not their best work, but had its moments.

     Magic would be the band’s swan song. Ian Gillan disbanded the group soon thereafter, citing damage to his vocal cords. The rest of the band, upset about this sudden dissolution of their livelihood, sued Gillan, and they must have been even more annoyed when quite soon he was…Born Again.

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