Ian Gillan's final solo outing before his second comeback with Deep Purple is possibly the singer's most rocking solo collection. Originally a European release, Toolbox finally appeared in North American record stores in 1997. The disc is hampered by its '80s production (complete with faux-Van Halen guitar licks and big reverb drum sounds) but Gillan's personality and dynamic performances preserve Toolbox's sharp rock & roll edge. Tracks like "Candy Horizon" and "Don't Hold Me Back" have more than their share of questionable lyrics, but Gillan's trademark screams easily overshadow any poetic shortcomings. Nothing can compare to the classic recordings Gillan was involved with in the early '70s, but among his second-tier offerings, Toolbox is definitely one of the best. ~ Vincent Jeffries
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