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.

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.

Deep Purple by Deep Purple

November 28, 2011

The first two Deep Purple albums and hit singles had made the band stars in the United States, if not its home country of England. There was dissention developing, however, as founding members Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore, supported by drummer Ian Paice, wanted to take the group in a hard rock direction. Bassist Nick Simper and vocalist Rod Evans were opposed to this change of direction, which would result in their eventual ouster from the band.

Their third self-titled album, sometimes referred to as Deep Purple III, was released during June of 1969 in the United States and during November in the U.K. It was the least successful of their three early albums, in part because the group’s label, Tetragrammaton, was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Deep Purple was the least satisfying of their three early career releases, although it can also be considered their most adventurous. It was probably a better fit during the time period of its release as its music sounds a little dated today. Its disjointed, yet creative, nature, has been overshadowed by their hard rock popularity of the last four-plus decades. Shades Of Deep Purple and The Book Of Taliesyn provide more stability and are ultimately more satisfying overall than III’s meandering through a number of different styles and sounds. Still, if you want to hear something different from Deep Purple, then this is an album you may want to seek out.

The opening “Chasing Shadows” was a tight rock piece with a thundering drum foundation by Paice. The band would begin a number of their future albums in the same way. “Why Didn’t Rosemary” was almost a 1950s and early 1960s throwback, as Ritchie Blackmore contributes artful solos, which would soon become a band staple.

On the other hand, the 12-minute “April” was unlike just about anything else the band would ever record. It was divided into three parts. There is an opening instrumental with a long Blackmore guitar solo, a classical chamber orchestra section written by Jon Lord that contains no participation by any of the band members, then vocals, and finally, another guitar solo. I’m not sure how good it was but it was interesting.

Deep Purple covered the middle ground as well. “Blind” is a classical/rock song built around Lord’s keyboards. Donovan’s “Lalena” was the only cover song and was one of the most subdued and low-key performances of its career. It did not really fit the band’s persona. “Fault Line/The Painter” combined a short instrumental, followed by keyboards and more guitar solos. “Bird Has Flown” was psychedelic rock, which the group would soon leave behind.

Deep Purple found the band in a transition period. Blackmore’s guitar sound was moving front and center, with Jon Lord joining him in the beginning to create the basis for a long and successful career. The album was a fitting conclusion to the band’s formative years.

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

Shades Of Deep Purple by Deep Purple

November 17, 2011

Hard rock icon Deep Purple came into existence because of a musician who never played with the band. Chad Curtis, former drummer of the British Invasion group The Searchers, decided to form a band called Roundabout. He first recruited keyboardist Jon Lord and then guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. He then withdrew from the project but Lord and Blackmore decided to carry on.

They recruited bassist Nick Simper, vocalist Rod Evans, and drummer Ian Paice, and the new band was complete. A name change was in order and Deep Purple was chosen because it was the name of Ritchie Blackmore’s grandmother’s favorite song.

The original line-up lasted for three albums. They made little impact in their home country of Great Britain but found commercial success in the United States, beginning with their first release, Shades Of Deep Purple, which was issued in July of 1968.

Looking back on this first release, and the two that followed, they were far different from the hard rock releases that would follow and sell close to 100 million albums worldwide. While the roots of their hard rock sound could be heard in places, there was also a distinct psychedelic sound present, which was representative of the era.

Rod Evans and Nick Simper may not have been Roger Glover and Ian Gillan, but for three albums they were an important part of the band and helped to create the music that would launch their success.
Shades of Deep Purple is a somewhat forgotten album in their large hard rock catalogue, but it remains a fine release. The sound is diverse as original and cover songs combine psychedelic music with hard rock and early progressive rock into a pleasant but disjointed whole.

The best known track, then and now, was a cover of the Joe South song, “Hush.” Released as a single, it would reach number four on the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles Chart in the United States and was the song that launched their career. They would never have a single chart higher in the United States. It was psychedelic music at its best with a memorable beat.

“Mandrake Root” was written by Blackmore, Lord, and Paice, and had an improvisational/jam like feel to it. It was the type of hard rock that the band would become famous for in the future.

The cover songs ranged from the ordinary to very good. “I’m So Glad,” associated with Cream, was presented in the same format. “Hey Joe” does not measure up to Jimi Hendrix’s rendition. The Beatles song, “Help,” was a very creative cover. They slowed the tempo down to an almost plodding pace until it was far removed from The Beatles original intent for the song.

Shades Of Deep Purple was a creative and very good debut album from a band that would go on to a legendary career. The music may be different from classic Deep Purple, but it stands the test of time well and is well worth a listen to anyone interested in the band or the era.

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