While Ian Gillan never truly caught on as a solo artist in the U.S., back home in his native England, he remained as popular as ever -- able to sell out arenas and score hit albums. He was probably at his peak as a solo artist in 1982 (thanks to a string of popular solo efforts and up-and-coming New Wave of British Heavy Metal outfits showering Deep Purple with accolades), as evidenced by the archival 2004 release, Live Wembley 17th December 1982. Gillan's group -- which included future hyperactive Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers at the time -- focused mostly on Gillan's solo material, including such standouts as the furiously rocking "What's the Matter" and the chunky "Bluesy Blue Sea." But Gillan is no fool, and knew that many of the diehards in the audience wanted their dose of Purple, which they received with readings of "Black Night" and "Smoke on the Water" -- with a set-closing cover of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" added for good measure. Although understandably best known for his work with Purple (and for a brief stint with Black Sabbath), Gillan's early-'80s solo releases -- and especially Live Wembley 17th December 1982 -- showed that the singer's desire to rock had never faded.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato