Of all the multitudinous highways and byways down which the enterprising Deep Purple collector can travel, none, perhaps, is so surprising as The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast, Purple bassist Roger Glover's first "solo" album, and — almost incidentally — one of the most delightful children's records ever made. Yes, a children's record. In 1973, Glover was approached about creating a musical adaptation of artist Alan Aldridge and poet William Plomer's book of the same name — a commission that surprised him, but which he nevertheless accepted. The book itself is delightful and, while Glover's work is unquestionably more heavily flavored by the near-psychedelia of the illustrations, the spirit of the text is retained as well, to create an album that stands among the few truly successful musical adaptations of an existing story yet committed to vinyl. Although Glover, as the album's premier composer, takes the bulk of the credit for this success, his co-conspirators, too, merit praise. Convening what resembles one of the greatest all-star lineups in heavy metal history — and then banning them from even glancing toward their usual territory! — Glover is joined by Purple stalwarts David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, future Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio, session stars Eddie Hardin and Tony Ashton, soul singer Jimmy Helms, Roxy Music's Eddie Jobson and John Gustafson, and three quarters of funk-rock aspirants Fancy. Each was given his own role to play and the resultant album is a tremendous mishmash of musical styles, from folky balladeering to psychedelic whimsy, but leaning most heavily toward an early-'70s pop/rock vibe — for some reason, one could imagine the early Queen spending an awful lot of time listening to The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast! Given the heavily narrative nature of the project, it is best listened to in one session — a handful of tracks certainly exist more to carry the tale than make a musical impact. Highlights, however, leap out from across the platter, with the macabre "Old Blind Mole" and the positively buoyant "Love Is All" the twin extremes around which the action revolves. Gustafson's hard rock "Watch Out for the Bat," meanwhile, must surely have induced nightmares within the album's younger fans, while Dio's closing "Homeward" all but predicts the course of arena rock during the 1980s. The original vinyl packs 19 tracks; the 25th-anniversary CD adds one, the European B-side "Little Chalk Blue," together with a fabulous enhanced multimedia clip ("Love Is All" again) taken from a projected animated TV series. It's a great package, as well as a chance to reacquaint yourself with one of childhood's most treasured tales.