What happened to Ian Gillan's voice?
I am a big fan of Deep Purple and I love Ian Gillan's vocals on their early albums. He always had a bit of a slightly nasal timbre but that's part of what made his voice so distinct. However, his performances since the mid-1980s are sad to watch. His screams are all but gone and so is his high range, but worst of all his tone has become very nasal.
I've noticed that today he struggles with the high notes and can barely get through Highway Star better than your average bar karaoke singer. What's weird is that unlike a lot of rock singers whose voices turn all shredded and raspy after years of misuse, Ian Gillan's voice has gone in the other direction and slowly become more and more nasal and bland.
Is he singing in this manner to preserve his voice?
On a sidenote, I listened to their newest album, "Now What?!" and I have to say that his vocals, although doubletracked and nasal at time, had solid pitch and had a very contemporary feel to them. He even throws in a few surprisingly good high notes here and there. Still has some edge and alot of character to his voice.
To put it in perspective, if this was any other singer and if this wasn't a Deep Purple album, one could say it's a really fun listen and he did a really good job singing it.
The key to enjoying the album and his performance is therefore to discard any expectations this is the Ian Gillan and Deep Purple of Child in Time and Highway Star.
He's still a very good singer who can hit some high notes and carry their new material but it's the inevitable comparisons to his past insurmountable vocal performances that make him hard to listen to live.