Deep Purple fans were outraged, Heavy Metallurgists ran shrieking for cover. But Ian Gillan's first post-Purple project remains one of the hardest, loudest and most exciting of all the mothership's myriad offspring -- and the fact that Child in Time is such a brutally funky album only amplifies its achievements. How easy it would have been, after all, for Gillan to simply fall back on all the past glories that his audience was hoping he'd be replaying. Instead, even the album's title -- lifted, of course, from one of Purple's most sacred classics -- was a joke. "Child in Time" was replayed within, of course. But you'd have a hard time recognizing it. It's strange -- looking back on the Deep Purple story, it's the arrival of David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes that heralds the band's own flirtation with da funk, and the departure of Gillan and Roger Glover (the latter producer of this album) that allowed them into the family in the first place.
You'd never guess that from Child in Time, though, as it bounds turbulently from the full-on crunch of "Lay Me Down," through the Sly Stone-ish "You Make Me Feel So Good," and onto the aforementioned "Child in Time," drawn across a luxurious quiet storm landscape, and squeezing an almost heartbreaking guitar solo out of Ray Fenwick. Other versions of "Child in Time" are louder, harder, more powerful. But this remains the most emotional -- and that's what the song has always demanded. The album's other epic is "Let It Slide" -- apparently a song about premature ejaculation, that contrarily slides on for eleven-plus minutes. Deeply atmospheric, lighter-wavingly anthemic, it's a more a showcase for the band than its singer, confirming both the democracy of this new group and going some way towards explaining the "jazz-rock" label that Child in Time is frequently saddled with. In fact, the album as a whole has more in common with the infusion of funk that was leaking into roughly simultaneous releases by Thin Lizzy ("Dancing in the Moonlight"), T. Rex, and bandmembers Fenwick and John Gustafson's recent past with Fancy and Roxy Music respectively -- not to mention Purple's own Come Taste the Band. But, if purebred, punchy R&B be your poison, Child in Time wipes the floor with the lot of them.