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“Shapshot” review by Tom Clarke

Solo albums are a means for Roger Glover to expose sides of himself that aren’t even glimpsed at within the complex, pounding rock he plays with Deep Purple. He admits that Purple, the band that’s become a “way of life” since he joined up as their bass player in 1969, still holds the key to plenty of musical magic for him. But he’s quick to point out too that he’s “a songwriter first and foremost.” Along with singer Ian Gillan, Glover’s written the lion’s share of Deep Purple’s lyrics, including those to “Smoke On the Water,” one of the hard rock anthems for an entire generation. Snapshot, the new album that he bills to himself and the Guilty Party featuring Randall Bramblett, presents some of the very best songs Glover’s ever written, done his way. And he claims he wasn’t even really looking to do a solo album. “I had a bunch of songs in the basement,” he said jokingly, “that I didn’t know what to do with. It’s my secret life, if you like. I go down in the basement late at night and write songs that have no future.”

Hardly. Fleshed out by a group of exceptional musicians, each and every one of these songs stands the test of repeated plays and are just as enjoyable, if not more so, over time.

Once Glover realized he was on the verge of creating an album, two things crucial to the ultimate sound of it occurred. First, he said, “all my solo albums are explorations of what’s moving me at the time.” So as he recalled J.J. Cale’s Naturally, a favorite album, he tried to analyze what he loves about it. “The magic thing about it,” he found, “is that an atmosphere of complete contentment pervades it. It’s understated and I love that.” Secondly, and maybe more significantly, he was introduced to Randall Bramblett by one of Steve Morse’s roadies.

“Randall was a huge find for me; we got on like a house on fire. He was actually a little self-conscious. He said ‘are you sure you want me doing my sort of bluesy interpretation of your lyrics? It’s nothing great.’ And I said ‘well it is great because you’re doing something I can only dream about.” That connection is evident right away in the album’s edgy, rocking opener, “My Turn.” “I said to Randall ‘I’ve got this one which is one of those “list” songs and it’s just got a fucking great groove, so let’s try it. And bang! Randall’s voice brought it alive. He has one of those voices. I think of actors who don’t really have to act, they just sound like they mean it.”

Snapshot is dynamic; its ambiance flows naturally through subtle drifts and more pronounced turns. Gorgeous, wistful pieces like “No Place To Go” and “Beyond Emily” share a commonality with the lilting, Gaelic-flavored “The More I Find,” complete with a beautifully lyrical guitar solo by Nick Moroch. “The Bargain Basement” however, is an industrial-strength rocker featuring a confident vocal by Glover’s daughter Gillian. “I was speaking to her on the phone one day and she said ‘dad, I’ve joined a band.’ I said ‘what?” Glover came to realize his little girl had developed into quite a singer, so he asked her, ironically, to sing on his album.

Glover himself does a fine job singing “Burn Me Up Slowly,” which mixes a little funk with a lot of English folk. Among his many talents, he admits dryly to being “a frustrated singer.”

Positive that two of the songs required the services of a slide guitar player, Glover asked Bramblett if he knew of any. The response? “Warren Haynes lives right here in New York.” “So I called up Warren and said ‘would you like to play on my album?’ He said ‘sure.’ Then he called back and said ‘do you want to come play on mine as well?” That little twist of fate significantly bolstered what became the album’s two singles, the Bramblett-penned, charging “Queen Of England” and “It’s Only Life,” a Glover/Bramblett collaboration that rolls with a bluesy, New Orleans kind of feel. “He just came in and nailed it. I didn’t know anything of Warren before working with him. I now have a huge respect for him.for his knowledge, his adventurousness.”

Snapshot is not the kind of album one would expect from the bass player for Deep Purple. Glover said he had “a great, great experience” making it. That sentiment carries over completely for the listener.