Far be it from this writer to suggest what a living rock legend should or shouldn’t do with his career. After all, when you’ve fronted Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, not to mention played the lyrical role of Jesus Christ, you really don’t have to answer to anyone. Still, what is this enigma known as One Eye to Morocco?
For Ian Gillan’s purposes, the malleable vocalist brings his own distinct timbre much less a well-known array of chops to whatever he wants to do, be it to belt out “Space Truckin’” for the billionth time or to pull off “Mr. Universe” from his eighties unit Gillan.
Bringing forth his first solo venture in a decade, Ian Gillan went on a veritable tear of songwriting in his downtime outside of Deep Purple, which went on momentary hiatus early last year when Roger Glover paused to mourn his passed mother. The time elapsed during this short recess was amazingly enough time for Ian Gillan to kick back and write an onslaught of 30-some songs.
Devoid of the superfluous guitar andkeyboard solos Gillan has customarily surrounded himself with, his newest album One Eye to Morocco (reportedly based on a Polish proverb) isn’t so much a pure rock album as it is world music planted inside of a knee-swishing, breezy light rock record.
Recorded in a meager three days, One Eye to Morocco is certainly as polished an album as spawned by those artists working relentlessly for weeks. Through One Eye to Morocco, Gillan offers his listeners a glimpse inside of his mind which accommodates (as Sting has historically done in a solo capacity) for the usage of earthy percussion, saxophone and adult contemporary modes into an album that will require a lot of patience.
Sure, you’ll get a chance to rock out with Gillan on the pumped-up “No Lotion for That” and the blues rawky “Texas State of Mind.” Beware, however, because One Eye to Morocco isn’t about keeping your neck bobbing and screaming “My Woman from Tokyo” at lung’s capacity.
What you’re going to get from this record is caliente conga grooves on “Don’t Stop,” a shuck ‘n jive percussive number in spirit to Duran Duran and eighties Stones with “Change My Ways” and calypso outpourings on the slinky “Deal With It.” As usual with Ian Gillan, expect some blues dabbling on one of the album’s cooler cuts, “Better Days” and the midtempo shuffle guiding “Ultimate Groove.”
Keeping in his stable from projects past Michael Lee Jackson (also associated with Animal Planet and Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer), and an entire ensemble of players, Ian Gillan should be commended for making an album this rich in tone and this natural in so quick a time. On the other hand, One Eye to Morocco is so anti-rock as much as it operates within a rock framework it’s hard to digest the first couple spins.
If you’re open-minded to what Gillan has teeming within his apparentlyhassle-free body and mind, One Eye to Morocco is a befuddling though reasonably entertaining project. If this doesn’t apply to you, you’re well-advised to turn tail and yank Fireball or Machine Head off of your shelf.
One Eye to Morocco
Label: Eagle Records
Article by Ray Van Horn, Jr.