Remarkably for someone you’ve probably not heard of, Israeli guitarist Avi Rosenfeld is presenting us here with his twenty seventh album, and the fifth in his Very Heepy Very Purple series.
The premise is a simple one: Rosenfeld grew up with the sounds of bands like Uriah Heep, Rainbow and Deep Purple always in his consciousness thanks to the good offices of his hard rockin’ Dad, and so has decided to gather his muso friends around him to pay homage to those bands through the …Purple albums. And bugger me if he hasn’t succeeded!
At least he has in part. At the root of the whole thing is the nifty playing and songwriting of Rosenfeld, natch, but a whole, um, heap of co-stars emerge over the course of the ten songs, most notably Carlo Peluso, whose Hammond Organ work on the supremely Risingesque Babylon is a particular delight. The amusingly-monickered Wanna Play Guitar Like Ritchie Blackmore also features some great organ grinding, this time from George Barabas.
Unfortunately – to my ears anyway – each song is song by a different vocalist which slightly dilutes any cohesion the album might build up style wise. Probably the best of them is Arpie Gamsz, who performs admirably on the album’s best track, Delilah, but sadly too often the vocalists enlisted by Rosenfeld for the project don’t quite hold their own against the stellar musicianship. Guilherme Araujo Dzielinski in particular struggles to hold the funky Valhala together, sounding strained throughout, and the same could be said for Massimo Gerini‘s contribution to the otherwise solid Silver Johnny, and although not all the vocals are actively poor, they do uniformly let down the premise of the recording. Let’s face it – David Byron, Ian Gillan and Ronnie James Dio are big shoes to fill, and it’s not every day you come across vocal talents as huge as those.
The other honourable exception to this rule apart from Gamsz is Marcelo Vieira, who delivers an assured performance on the uptempo and very Purpleesque romp that is Dealer, which is probably the best song in terms of performance from the assembled musicians. They sound like a real band on this composition, with yet more impressive Hammond playing featuring heavily, this time courtesy of Sven Wannas.
A mixed bag then – how could it be anything else? But you can’t deny the sincerity of Rosenfeld’s motives, and there are several moments here that are sure to bring smiles to the faces of fans of the bands being tributed.
Very Heepy Very Purple V is out now.