I've never been able to work out if

Originally released in October of last year, Deep Purple has decided to perpetuate the craze of ripping off rock and metal fans by re-releasing 'Rapture Of The Deep' in a "Limited Tour Edition". Why do bands do this? Anniversary editions, remasters, bonus tracks, interviews etc etc etc - what's the fucking point? I mean remasters I can just about get my head round; some of the first CD releases were diabolically mastered by labels trying to cash in on the success of Dire Straits's 'Brothers In Arms' and they sound horrendous when compared to their vinyl counterparts. But 'Rapture Of the Deep' isn't even a year old, for God's sake. I mean if Deep Purple really wants their fans to get the extra material, why not release an E.P. or make the bonus stuff available for download on their website instead? We all know the answer - it's because they want the filthy lucre, don't they? And as they know that most of their fans are either nearing retirement age (which I think has now changed to eighty four or something, hasn't it?) or have an astronomical level of disposable income (because they are sad and single simpletons) they can get away with it.

Anyway - rant over - it's out there now and nothing I'm going to say is gonna change that fact. Let's get down to business. This gatefold packaged "Limited Tour Edition" features the original album, a couple of bonus tracks and some live material recorded at The Hard Rock Café in London...in October 2005! Grrr...give me strength...

Deep Purple 05/06 are Ian Gillan (hilariously listed as responsible for "vocalising" on the promo sheet), Roger Glover on bass, Ian Paice (as you'd expect) on drums, Steve Morse on guitar and Don Airey on keyboards.

Crunching feedback and classic prog-rock outer-space electro flourishes kick off 'Money Talks' before giving way to some pretty standard slow-tempo riffage. Gillan's voice is as strong as ever - and he clearly has fun with the tongue-firmly-in-cheek lyrics, one of which is truly hilarious - "I had rising stock/So I got more pockets/I knew somewhere to stick it/Where no one would nick it". Genius.

A brisker pace is established by 'Girls Like That', all funky bass lines and Hammond organs, before 'Wrong Man' attempts a return to a more classic Deep Purple sound. There's something missing though - Richie Blackmore's scratchy Fender Strat. Steve Morse is no slouch on his axe, don't get me wrong, but it sounds like he's playing a guitar made of oiled whale blubber, so slick and smooth is the sound it makes. What should be a crunchy lick comes out a soggy brick - and someone's blatantly nicked the chord progression from The A' Team theme for the chorus too.

Prog-rock-funk again intrudes on the eardrums courtesy of the title track, but at least it gives way to the rather touching 'Clearly Quite Absurd'. A song that stinks of AOR cheese might not seem particularly appealing, but thanks to Gillan's delicate vocalising (hee hee) of the quiet, soul-searching lyrics - and the inclusion of an acoustic guitar - it remains an affecting and effective piece.

'Don't Let Go' is a great return to classic blues-soft-rock territory and again, Gillan's voice sounds smoother than a buttered Arthur Fonzarelli. 'Back To Back' and 'Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye' are standard prog-rock record filler and the prominence of Airey's keyboards swiftly whips the hard-edge-rock carpet from under the feet of the current Deep Purple personnel. Gillan's lyrics are hilariously asinine (that's a compliment, by the way) and I doubt if even Robert Plant could beat them - even if he smoked a skip-sized amount of mushrooms and dropped a couple of tabs. Morse slots in a couple of decent solos too and a palpable sense of fun shines through it all - as if all the guys've finally got the chance to return to what they all do best.

Originally missing from the standard release, 'MTV' is a funky mid-tempo swipe at the aforementioned station, but is swiftly overshadowed by 'Junkyard Blues', a rollicking toe-tapping epic. Indulgent mid-song solos courtesy of Morse and Airey push it well past the five minute mark but that's exactly the point and you just have to sit back and give in to its charms. The contemplative 'Before Time Began' sounds remarkably similar to mid-Eighties Peter Gabriel at first - the lyrics concern themselves with the socio-political mess the world is currently in - but then the classy riffs kick in and you find yourself back on Planet Prog.

The second disk features an alternate version of 'Clearly Quite Absurd' (no match for the original) and bonus tracks 'Things I Never Said' and 'The Well-Dressed Guitar. The former is a pretty enjoyable slab of rock, while the latter is an uproarious finger-slicing showcase for Morse and wouldn't seem out of place on a Wishbone Ash or Yes record.

The abovementioned live tracks sound crisper than a fried King Edward and if you were a big fan of the album first time round, you might be tempted to re-purchase - or, as Deep Purple still tour, you could just wait for the next inevitable full-length live album instead.

It's entirely your choice as to whether to buy this album all over again - if you've already got it. However, if you don't own the original release and aren't a flag-waving Deep Purple groupie, there's not really anything on this record that justifies dipping your hand deeper into your pocket. But, if you're one of those crazy, obsessive fans that HAS to own EVERYTHING, I've no doubt you're tempted. It all boils down to how you answer this question: Do you really need to own another live version of 'Smoke On The Water'?