Deep Purple By Nino Tempo And April Stevens

October 21, 2014


Many people assume Nino Tempo and April Stevens were husband and wife. In actuality Antonio and Carol LoTempio are brother and sister.

While as Nino Tempo and April Stevens  have enjoyed 50 year careers both as solo artists and a duo; their one shining moments came on November 16, 1963, when their recording of “Deep Purple” topped the Billboard Magazine Hot 100 for one week. It also reached number one on the Adult Contemporary Chart and won a Grammy Award.

It was a unique record for 1963 as on the second chorus Stevens narrated the words while Tempo sang them. It was the only top ten single of their career.


Hush 45 by Deep Purple

August 10, 2012

This was the very early Deep Purple before Ian Gillian and Roger Glover. Guitarist Richie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord, drummer Ian Paice, bassist Nick Simper, and vocalist Rod Evans were the original Deep Purple. While Simper and Evans would only last for three albums worth of material, they did manage to produce some excellent material.

The early incarnation of the band was more psychedelic rock than the hard rock sound for which they would become famous.

“Hush” was their first big hit single. Released during the summer of 1967, it reached number four on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart in the United States.

“Hush” remains one the the more unique and one of the best songs in their large catalogues.

Made In Japan by Deep Purple

February 6, 2012

Made In Japan was the live album that almost wasn’t. Originally intended to have only been issued in Japan, its release in the United States was pushed back five months so as not to interfere with Deep Purple’s studio release of Who Do We Think We Are. Finally released in the U.S. in April of 1973, it sold over one million copies and reached number six on the Billboard Pop Album Chart.

Whether by design or accident, the album caught Deep Purple at the right moment in time. The Mark II incarnation of Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and Roger Glover were at the height of their power. Gillan’s vocals were never better, and Blackmore was engaged and interested.

The album was recorded August 15-17 from concerts atKosei Nenkin Kaikan in Osaka and Budokan in Tokyo. The sound was excellent for the day, especially for the haphazard nature of the process. The album has been released in several expanded forms down through the years, but I am still attracted to the original.

Though it contained only seven songs, the initial vinyl release was a two-disc affair with two tracks to a side and one on side four. The band was touring in support of their Machine Head album, and elongated performances of four of its songs appear in this live set.

Made In Japan blasts out of the gate with a powerful rendition of “Highway Star,” making it immediately clear that the band members are in tune with one another and firing on all cylinders. A 12-minute “Child In Time” follows, allowing the band to stretch out a bit as Lord and Blackmore begin to improvise.

“Smoke On The Water” doesn’t get the audience reaction one would expect but the song had yet to become a hit at this point. This is a fairly loose interpretation of the song but the signature Blackmore guitar licks remain intact.

“The Mule” contains arguably the best drum solo of Ian Paice’s career, which given the quality and longevity of that career is saying a lot. Paice has provided the foundation for Deep Purple’s music for decades and this track illustrates him at his best. Ian Gillan’s voice now reflects the years of stress and strain but this live rendition of “Strange Kind Of Woman” finds him hitting notes that have rarely been reached. The 10-minute “Lazy” serves as a vehicle for some interplay between Lord and Blackmore.

The album comes to a close with a spectacular and nearly 20-minute version of “Space Truckin,’’ which begins with an extended jam before settling into its familiar melody. Just when you think the song is drawing to a close, one of the band members takes off in a new direction. This is probably the definitive version of this often-played hard-rock classic.

Made In Japan remains one of those live albums that that serves as a template against which all live albums should be judged. If a band is measured by its live work then Deep Purple receives an A+ for this effort. It is an essential listen for anyone interested in hard rock.

Article first published as Music Review: Deep Purple – Made In Japan on Blogcritics.

Inglewood – Live In California by Deep Purple

January 26, 2012

The original Deep Purple line-up included singer Rod Evans, bassist Nicky Simper, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord, and drummer Ian Paice. This Mark I incarnation of the band was together for three albums before Evans and Simper were replaced by Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.

For years it was thought that no live footage of the early Deep Purple existed. It turned out that one 1968 concert in Inglewood, California, where they opened for Cream, was recorded on a primitive open reel recorder. The tape was lost for years but ended up in the hands of the Deep Purple Appreciation Society. The music was finally issued on CD for the first time during 2002. Inglewood: Live In California contained some of the very few live Mark I recordings that have survived.

The sound leaves a lot to be desired due to the primitive and haphazard recording process. They probably cleaned it up as well as modern technology allowed but the result was average bootleg quality, at best.

Rod Evans was a good vocalist in the studio but on stage he paled next to his future replacement Ian Gillan. Still, it’s nice to hear him interpret the band’s early material. Bassist Nick Simper comes across as an excellent bassist as he and drummer Paice formed a very competent rhythm section. Blackmore was a presence on some of the tunes but it was Jon Lord on the keyboards that provided the dominating instrumental sound.

The set list is very different from every other Deep Purple live recording. Their two early hits “Hush” and “Kentucky Woman” are psychedelic rock and hard rock respectively. “Mandrake Root” and “Wring That Neck” enabled Blackmore and particularly Lord to jam together and separately.

They couldn’t translate their brilliant cover of The Beatles’ “Help” from the studio to the stage. They just didn’t get the textures and tempos right. They finished with an almost 10-minute rendition of “River Deep Mountain High” and the old Leaves psychedelic classic “Hey Joe.” The Phil Spector/Ike &Tina Turner tune was turned into a psychedelic/hard rock hybrid. “Hey Joe” was a raw and gritty performance that would look ahead to some of their future work.

This early live material is not for the Deep Purple neophyte. It is for fans who want to explore their history and in that regard it is a valuable addition to their catalogue of music.

Article first published as Music Review: Deep Purple – Inglewood – Live In California on Blogcritics.

Concerto For group And Orchestra by Deep Purple

January 25, 2012

Deep Purple released Concerto For Group And Orchestra in 1969 and it remains the most unusual album in its long history.Ian Gillan and Roger Glover had just replaced original members Rod Evans and Nick Simper, so Jon Lord and Gillan came up with the idea of recording with an orchestra.

The duo wrote a concerto in three movements and recorded it with theRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Arnold, at Royal Albert Hall on September 24, 1969. The album had limited commercial success in the United States but was a hit in their home country of Great Britain.

This is one release where I advocate tracking down the 2002 two-CD edition. The sound on the original vinyl release was poor and not much better on the first CD reissue of the album. The 2002 CD release has a significantly cleaned up sound. In addition, more music was presented, which included a set by Deep Purple that was not included on the original release.

The actual concert began with a performance by Malcolm Arnold and the orchestra of his own, “Symphony Number 6,” in three movements. The music is available but is oddly out of place within the context of the album.

The 2002 CD release began with a three-song set by Deep Purple which stretched out to about 30 minutes. This was the first recording of the famous Mark II Deep Purple line-up. It is interesting to hear the band perform the pre-Mark II hit “Hush,” as it was a sound the band would quickly leave behind in the years ahead. Ritchie Blackmore was on fire for the 13-minute instrumental version of “Wring That Neck,” and if you are a fan of his style then this track is an essential listening experience. The classic Deep Purple track, “Child In Time,” was unreleased at the time but it served as a vehicle for Gillan’s amazing vocal range, which was at the height of its power back then.

The actual Concerto For Group And Orchestra was really the Jon Lord show. While Gillian did write some lyrics, Lord was responsible for the music, which was the concert’s centerpiece. The band and orchestra tended to trade the spotlight more than they actually played together in a traditional sense. While both seem to jam a little, in reality they do so within the structure of the music. Blackmore’s solo within the first movement and Paice’s thunderous drum solo during the third movement are highlights. The second movement was the least successful as it was more calm and peaceful as it veered toward a Moody Blues sound.

Concerto For Group And Orchestra was a unique stop for Deep Purple. It remains an album of “What ifs” for the band, as it would have been interesting if it had explored this direction a little more.

Article first published as Music Review: Deep Purple – Concerto For Group And Orchestra on Blogcritics.

Bananas by Deep Purple

January 13, 2012

Change was in the air for Deep Purple as the new millennium progressed. Original member Jon Lord decided to retire from the group, so veteran keyboardist Don Airey officially replaced him in 2002. This Mark VIII version of Deep Purple remains intact to the present day.

Airey was a long-time veteran of the hard rock scene. He had played with such bands and artists as Rainbow,Ozzy Osbourne, Colosseum II, Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, Whitesnake, and Judas Priest. His musicianship and personality fit smoothly into the Deep Purple line-up and sound as the band moved seamlessly into the future.
Even though Airey was new at the time, his presence didn’t change the fact that Deep Purple’s music revolved around Steve Morse’s guitar work and Ian Gillan’s vocals. Airey could play Lord’s parts in a concert setting but did not have his history with the band to be a force in the studio.

Bananas was released in September of 2003 and was representative of their modern day albums. It contained a few very good songs and a number of what can be best described as professional hard rock tracks. The commercial success was limited but many of the songs translated well to a live setting, which was important as Deep Purple remained one of the top concert attractions in the world.

There were three-and-a-half stand-out tracks on it, including “House Of Pain,” which was a straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll track that Deep Purple was so good at producing. “Walk On” was a haunting ballad that featured outstanding bass work by Roger Glover. “I Got Your Number” was the album’s longest track at just over six minutes. It was a song made for the concert stage as the bass, guitar, and keyboards all traded riffs. The half-song was “Contact Lost,” which was a sad 90-second Steve Morse instrumental composition honoring the seven Columbia astronauts who perished earlier in the year.

Two other tracks were interesting, as the band added some unusual elements to its sound. “Haunted” was a moody track with a creative Morse solo and strings to fill out the sound. The middle of “Sun Goes Down” contained a drum/vocal break which was unique and striking.

Deep Purple did not reinvent the wheel with Bananas, and at this point in its existence, it is doubtful the band will change very much. In the final analysis, it was a competent hard rock album and at 45 years into their career, that will have to do.

Article first published as Music Review: Deep Purple – Bananas on Blogcritics.

Purpendicular by Deep Purple

January 5, 2012

When Deep Purple went into the studio to record their new album during 1995, there was a new kid on the block. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had quit the band in the middle of their last tour and had ridden off into the sunset for the third time. His replacement was former Dixie Dregs guitarist Steve Morse and so the Mark VII line-up of Deep Purple was born.

Morse was a different type of guitarist than Blackmore. He was not as flashy but was just as technically adept. He had a more fluid style and was a more straight-forward rock guitarist who did not incorporate as many styles as his predecessor. He fit into the band’s line-up surprisingly well and it did not miss a beat in the studio or on the road.

Purpendicular (1996) emerged as a very good modern day Deep Purple hard rock album. Gone were a number of outside influences that Blackmore tended to bring to much of their material, and in their place was a cohesive album of hard rock. Songs such as “Ted The Machine,” “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming,” and “Somebody Stole My Guitar,” have remained a part of its live act for the past 15 years.

The album was only a moderate commercial success and signaled a transition from the band relying on album sales to fuel its popularity. Now it was the band’s constant worldwide touring that enabled it to remain one of the premier concert attractions in the world.

It also marked a change in approach for singer Ian Gillan. His voice was beginning to show the years and miles he had put on it. Now he began to rely on phrasing and showmanship rather than the constant upper range that made him one of the best rock vocalists in the business.

The record began with “Vavoom: Ted The Machine,” which emphasized the guitar-based foundation that once did and now again increasingly dominates their music. While keyboardist/organist Jon Lord would remain an active participant; his influence would begin to decline. The long-time balance that had existed between the guitar and keyboards now moved back toward the guitar sound. In the final analysis, “Vavoom” was a no frills rock song which looked ahead to a lot of the material that would inhabit their future releases.

“Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” featured an acoustic beginning, a technique and style that Morse would return to on a number of occasions. “Hey Cisco” was a track that went in a different direction, as it got a little jazzy in places. The most interesting track was “Soon Forgotten,” which contained a number of tempo changes by Morse and Lord.

Purpendicular proved that Deep Purple was alive and well in the post-Ritchie Blackmore era, as it was an album of proficient and modern hard rock. If you want to explore the music of Deep Purple beyond their classic releases, then this is an album for you.

Article first published as Music Review: Deep Purple – Purpendicular on Blogcritics.

The Battle Rages On by Deep Purple

January 3, 2012

Like moths drawn to the flame, the Mark II line-up of Deep Purple reunited one more time. Joe Lynn Turner, former vocalist from Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, had been imported to provide the vocals for the band’s 1990 release, Slaves And Masters, which ended up sounding like a Rainbow album in many places. The Turner experiment ended after one album when Ian Gillan decided to return to the band, making the band’s classic grouping of Blackmore, Paice, Lord, Glover, and Gillan complete once again.
The reunion lasted for one album. Blackmore resented Gillan’s meddling with many of the already written songs.

The resulting album, The Battle Rages On, issued during July of 1993, was a disjointed affair that featured many songs that seemed like Deep Purple was imitating itself and not quite getting it right. While it would remain as one of the top concert draws in the world, this album would mark the beginning of a commercial downturn in their album sales.

The Gillan and Blackmore reunion was like trying to combine oil and water. It ended when Blackmore quit in the middle of their 1993 world tour.Joe Satriani agreed to finish the tour as their guitarist.
The album itself was OK in places but in retrospect, many of the songs can be regulated to filler tracks and are further hurt by a sameness. Songs such as “Lick It Up,” “Solitaire,” “Talk About Love,” and “One Man’s Meat” just do not measure up to Mark II’s classic work.

On the other hand, there was a little life left in the band. The title track is excellent hard rock bordering on a metal sound. I can’t help but think that if the band had gone with this type of approach throughout the album, it would have been better off. “Ramshackle Man” had a nice bluesy feel to it. “Anya” is the album’s best track, as Ritchie Blackmore gave one last and great guitar performance.

There have been no more Mark II reunions since then. Ritchie Blackmore rode off into the sunset and formed Blackmore’s Night during 1997, which produced a far different sound than either Rainbow or Deep Purple. His relationship with Candice Night was also vastly different than his Deep Purple bandmates.

The Battle Rages On remains a somewhat forgettable album in Deep Purple history despite a few memorable tracks. It is not the place to start when exploring the music of the famous Mark II era of Deep Purple.

Article first published as Music Review: Deep Purple – The Battle Rages On on Blogcritics

Slaves And Masters by Deep Purple

December 28, 2011

Some people just can’t get along and so it was, is, and probably always shall be for Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple fame. The fou-year reunion of the classic Mark II line-up of Deep Purple came to an acrimonious end during 1989 when either Gillan was fired by Blackmore or quit on his own, which really didn’t matter as the band was in need of a new lead singer by then.

Enter Joe Lynn Turner and the formation of the Mark V line-up. He had been the lead singer of Blackmore’s solo band Rainbow, 1980-1984. His stint in Deep Purple would be fairly short, 1989-1992, and produced only one studio album. When I rank the singers that have fronted Deep Purple; Turner probably lands on the bottom. He is an excellent singer in his own right but his voice was different from what one was accustomed to hearing from Deep Purple. It is gritty and in some ways more mainstream than the sonic nature of Ian Gillan and David Coverdale.

With Turner hired as the singer, the band went in to the studio and released Slaves And Masters during October of 1990 before setting off on a very successful and lucrative tour schedule during 1991. The album remains an afterthought in the large Deep Purple catalogue. It was a little too slick and polished in places as the band moved in a commercial direction. It ended up sounding like a cross between a Rainbow and a Deep Purple album that did not reflect the best of either.

Oddly I find the best of the album bunched at the beginning as the first three tracks are all pretty good. “King Of Dreams,” “The Cut Runs Deep,” and “Fire In The Basement” all come the closest to Deep Purple’s brand of classic hard rock. Blackmore’s guitar solos and Lord’s keyboard runs harp back to the Deep Purple of old. The instrumentals kept Turner’s vocals under control and if all the tracks could have gone in this direction, the album would have been more representative of the band’s legacy.

The final six tracks are basically generic filler. They even stoop to ripping off some Kiss riffs on a couple of tracks. While in and of themselves they may not be terribly offensive, they are certainly not up to the band’s past standards.

The life of the Mark V line-up would be brief. A surprise new lead singer was coming and stability was in the band’s future. No doubt there are people in the Deep Purple universe who will praise this album, but in the final analysis it is only for fans who want everything Deep Purple.

Article first published as Music Review: Deep Purple – Slaves And Masters on Blogcritics.

Kentucky Woman 45 by Deep Purple

December 27, 2011

Neil Diamond had a hit single with “Kentucky Woman” during late 1967 when it reached number 22 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

The song returned to the singles charts a year later in a far different form. The hard rock band, Deep Purple, gave it a hard rock treament and move it far from its pop origens. Their version reached number 38.

It remains a rare song where two different treatments were both excellent.