MERCURY HIGH: THE STORY OF IAN GILLAN represents the solo career of the hard rock vocalist, who is best known for his work with Deep Purple. The set spans his many solo project between 1977 to 2001.
Most listeners will identify Ian Gillan as the main vocal force behind the classic Deep Purple albums of the early '70s: Deep Purple in Rock, Fireball, Machine Head, Who Do We Think We Are, and Made in Japan. Gillan's off-and-on relationship with the band has allowed him plenty of time to pursue solo work. The best of it is represented on Mercury High: The Story of Ian Gillan, featuring 30 solo tracks recorded between 1977 to 2001. You have to give Gillan credit for his eclectic choice of material. He could have easily relied on a ready-made audience wanting further Deep Purple retreads. Instead, Gillan's patented and piercing heavy metal screech is pretty much absent and replaced by a softer approach on tracks that incorporate polished soul-pop, mainstream arrangements. The closest Gillan gets to the Deep Purple sound are the songs from the 1991 Toolbox album produced by '80s British metal fan Chris Tsangarides. Unless you are the most ardent fan of the vocalist, his several solo records probably slipped through the cracks. Mercury High: The Story of Ian Gillan gives those with an interest a second chance to investigate a side of the singer that deserves to be heard more often. ~ Al Campbell