REVIEW: Who Cares -- Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi & Friends

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Who Cares

Last month, a new two-song project was released from Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan. According to the press materials, “Who Cares” re-teams the former Sabbath cohorts and long-time friends for the first time since the 1983 Black Sabbath “Born Again” album. In between, however, fans may also recall the celebrity all-star “Smoke On The Water” that Iommi and Gillan collaborated on back in 1989, released in 1990. That project is really the lead-in to this reunion, as the Purple and Sabbath stars return to sharing a project in the name of aiding people affected by the 1988 Armenia earthquake. Of course, not only did Iommi and Gillan team again since “Born Again” with the Armenia Aid project of 1989/1990, they worked together another time, even more recently: Ian Gillan’s 2006 solo album “Gillans Inn,” which Iommi appears on, performing a stunning remake of the ’83 Sabbath single “Trashed.”

Now that we’ve corrected the bio details relating to Iommi and Gillan’s occasional work over the last several decades, back to the new songs… Apparently, the area in Armenia affected by the earthquake of 1988 never really recovered, and despite the generosity twenty years ago, as Iommi says on the CD sleeve, “here was a music school doing their best, forgotten, in basic tin sheds.” It was that realization on Iommi’s part -- witnessing the continued devastation and poverty resulting from the quake -- that pushed him to realize perhaps their efforts needed a reprise… It was with that dose of reality that this latest benefit recording was produced.

“Out Of My Mind” is an interesting metal number with an all-star cast: ex-Metallica/Flotsam & Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted, Iron Maiden/ex-Pat Travers drummer Nicko McBrain, ex-Deep Purple keyboard maestro Jon Lord, and Iommi’s son-in-law, Swedish guitarist Linde Lindstrom, and of course Tony and Ian… It has a few changes that are typical for any classic-style metal song or composition by older metal guys. Nicko McBrain seems to be somewhat restrained on this cut, too. Iommi floors it, but one has to wonder why he needed to get the son-in-law on this otherwise all-star song. With Lindstrom on-board, it’s very hard to really call it all-star. Did Tony really need to give this guy the space? Couldn’t another star have done the other guitar work?

“Holy Water” is a second track arriving as part of “Who Cares” and is fitting as a B-side… after all, we are rapidly heading back into the era of singles-only… This track starts with an atmospheric, spacey segment complete with synthesizer moodiness and ethnic instrument the duduk providing an equally moody vibe for the track. Now backed by guitarists Michael Lee Jackson and Steve Morris, drummer Randy Clarke, keyboardists Jessie O’Brien and Ara Gevorgyan, duduk player Arshak Sahakyan. It has a bit more of an exploratory feel than “Out Of My Mind” but retains the trademark Iommi crunching power-chord riffing, and minor key sense of doom.

Adding to the two tracks is a short video documentary revealing how the heavy star talent coalesced around the songs and recorded the project. Clocking in at just under a half-hour, it’s a nice finale and bit of insight into this effort. Funds raised from the digital internet release of the two-song single will benefit the music school in Armenia which moved Iommi, in the comment above. All in all, a good pair of songs, interesting video documentary, and great cause.