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Avi Rosenfeld - Very Heepy Very Purple XI

Avi Rosenfeld
Very Heepy Very Purple XI
by Kira Schlechter at 31 August 2020, 3:22 AM

Done with different musicians and singers on each track and in the style of – well, duh – DEEP PURPLE, the 11th chapter of “Very Heepy Very Purple” from ridiculously prolific Israeli guitarist Avi Rosenfeld is an interesting concept. Where you admire his objective and his goal, to keep this style of music alive, the execution leaves a bit to be desired. Avi is an adept guitarist, certainly, and deeply understands the style he’s emulating, but as a songwriter, well…

The shortcomings are fairly clear from the start. “You Are So Lazy” features singer Hadi Klani and David Stone, who played in RAINBOW and DIO, on keyboards. It starts with his Hammond and Avi’s crisp noodling and settles into a rollicking, bluesy romp. Hadi is an old-school wailer, and David delivers a trademark PURPLE-Y solo. Avi’s playing is definitely of the style and tone of BLACKMORE as well (but without the virtuosity), and he lets the band shine around him – he’s not a showoff. But the self-explanatory lyrics are a little awkward, in wording and in rhyming, and this is a problem throughout.

“Secret Bloom Blinding” begins with Avi’s guitar groove and gets lazy and slinky when the drums come in. Singer Ivan Giannini is a little grittier but still has that GILLAN-like vibrato. There’s a little bridge where the guitar gets reflective, then that groove comes back and gets some layers. A moody solo returns things back to the beginning. The ever-present Hammond organ gives everything the appropriate ‘70s vibe. The title as it relates to the lyrics (which reference some type of random battle) is a complete mystery – sometimes it’s almost like the words are used as another element of the overall sound. Avi at times pairs the right singer with the right song, but they all sound pretty much the same; with a few exceptions, he likely could have used the same one throughout and achieved the same result. And the mix is too light, with not a lot of reverb or atmosphere and not enough heft and bottom end.

“She’s A Speed Demon” (with screamer singer Masum Ul Islam) is Avi’s take on “Highway Star” in that it’s faster and punctuated with drums and more organ. Masum relishes hitting the high notes, you can tell, but he fights hard for them as the chorus modulates up and up. Avi’s guitar solos and melodies are fine, but they’re a little uncomfortable and sloppy, like he’s playing the notes technically but not feeling them, like there’s an emotional disconnect. And again, the lyrics here flow really awkwardly – it’s like “Highway Star” in the idea and the metaphor, but not in the final result.

“Battle Shock” (with singer Jaehoon Lee) has a very Israeli, folky feel in the main melody. But in the second verse, the vocal line and its melody and the instrumentation are at cross purposes. The bridge gets darker and picks up the pace with some military drumming and more muscular playing on Avi’s part. It’s a ballad about war that probably hits pretty close to home for him, with a suitably dramatic chorus and sentiments that are obviously heartfelt (too much conflict, hoping for peace), but they’re just not especially eloquent and the flow is off.

“Help Me” (singer Mattia Martin) is the story of two people trapped on a submarine – while it has a fitting quicker, more frantic pace, it lacks urgency and drama. The words certainly relate the dire situation, but they are delivered almost perfunctorily and so fast as to lose any real impact, and the bridge section is just plain weird (“fish are swimming like it’s normal/no one told them it’s all dark” – what?). At this point, you wish for a bit more instrumental variety – the organ is a lot of fun, but I’m not sure it’s needed in every song.

“I Know That You’re Sorry” (with singer Niklas Turmann) has a snappy groove pushed along by the choppy, spitting organ line, but again it lacks beef and resonance in the mix. Niklas delivers the self-explanatory lyrics (the ‘we both screwed up in this relationship’ idea) with conviction and feeling, but the chorus is off somehow (“I want it to be our special song” and “we’ll meet on empty road” – huh?). The bridge is a bit off-topic, and again the flow and wording is problematic.

“Messenger Of War” (with singer Vakhtango Johnny Zadiev) immediately reminds you of of DIO-era RAINBOW, thematically (the whole knights and wizards thing) as well as musically (it starts immediately with the lyrics and it has a punctuated, syncopated rhythm). A meaty, organ-powered groove starts the actual verse and the slower, legato part is interesting. Johnny’s voice is effective and fits the material well. But musically, the whole piece is disjointed and doesn’t seem to hang together very well, and lyrically, it’s just images and sections strung together that are trying hard to be a story.

It’s pretty clear what “Lifeboat” (with singer Rilvas SIlva) is about, and there is a story here – the storm hits, they are left stranded, they’re trying to be optimistic, but “few survivors left there/Food is running out.” But he references Vikings in the first verse, and I’m fairly certain they didn’t have lifeboats? And the last lines come out of nowhere – “He’s a poor old bastard/He knew what’s to come” – ‘he’ who? The acoustic guitar is a nice switch-up, and the organ is thoughtful accompaniment, giving it a sea chanty quality, but the chorus has no punch and Rilvas is trying really hard to stay on key.

“El Matador” (with singer Luis Wasques) is sung partly in Spanish, as you might have guessed it would be. The snappy rhythm suits the idea, but the too-loud organ and drums completely drown Luis out and he really struggles on the high parts – like really struggles. The solo is bright and perky, the playing is great, but the songs themselves need an editor in so many ways. The lyric awkwardness is really apparent here, too (“Thousands crowd will lift my spirits high/I’ll raise my hands, the both of them” and later, “tame the beast of untamed lands”).

“Marching To Their Fate” (with singer Dio Ken) has a definite Middle Eastern feel. The beginning is much like a lot of Jewish folk songs (I’ve heard the ‘lai-lai-lai’ thing myself many times in synagogue), and it’s fine and fun and different, but by the third time, it’s worn out its welcome and the last one is downright unpleasant. It’s obviously referencing “Stargazer,” especially in the bridge, but it’s not remotely a story – it’s just the barest etching of one, with soldiers marching to some sort of battle controlled by some all-powerful leader, but it’s not fleshed out at all. The singing without words section adds to the overall feel (and again it’s repeated, only up an octave), and Dio’s voice has a, well, DIO-like drama.

There are good ideas here musically and thematically, but they really need to be honed and polished. Avi’s playing is definitely competent and in the spirit of the bands to which he’s paying tribute, but the songwriting needs work, especially the idea of telling a coherent story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. You Are So Lazy
2. Secret Bloom Blinding
3. She’s A Speed Demon
4. Battle Shock
5. Help Me
6. I Know That You’re Sorry
7. Messenger Of War
8. Lifeboat
9. El Matador
10. Marching to Their Fate
Lineup:
Avi Rosenfeld - Guitar
Record Label: Independent
     


Rating

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Edited 13 April 2021
 

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