Shades Of Deep Purple

Deep Purple

Tetragrammaton, 1968

http://www.deeppurple.com

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/06/2008

Like a UFO landing, Jon Lord’s otherworldly organ flourishes set the stage for the explosive instrumental march “And The Address” that opens the 1968 debut album, Shades Of Deep Purple, from hard rock legends Deep Purple. Rarely does one hear such a confident initial statement from a brand new band.

Joining Lord are bassist Nick Simper, drummer Ian Paice, vocalist Rod Evans, and of course, guitar hero/enfant terrible Ritchie Blackmore. Though this was the original lineup of the group, it is not considered the classic lineup with which they would gain superstardom, and as a result, the first three Deep Purple albums have become forgotten -- and unfairly so.

Despite this, Shades Of Deep Purple does contain one of the band’s signature hits, a cover of a recent Joe South song by the name of “Hush.” The combination of a driving, heavy groove and Evans’ smooth vocal melodies made this the definitive version of this excellent song, and I doubt very many people have even heard the original.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

There are several covers on the album in fact, each one refreshingly being a radically different interpretation, which makes for an interesting listen. Their ability to turn the Beatles’ energetic “Help” into a sad, lonely, plodding track is particularly noteworthy, and to a similar extent so is their version of “Hey Joe,” mainly for the addition of a dramatic new Latin-flavored intro that seemingly has no musical ground in common with the actual song until its themes resurface stunningly at various intervals throughout. I’ll take this version over the more famous one by Jimi Hendrix.

While the abundant, intense instrumental passages consist of excellent musicianship from all the band members (especially the furious, synchronized organ and guitar soloing in
“Prelude: Happiness”), the original compositions prove that the band was no one-trick pony --  tracks like “Love Help Me” and “One More Rainy Day” show a pop sensibility that their later material wouldn’t have, with uplifting vocal harmonies and slightly psychedelic melodies that at times seem more like something out of the Yardbirds’ canon.

Really the only weaknesses to be found here are the rather repetitive “I’m So Glad” (does that really have to be stated 50 times?) and “Mandrake Root,” which is not so much a song rather than a loose framework for endless jamming and soloing, something that Lord and Blackmore were more than happy to indulge in, based on live renditions of the song.

While today Deep Purple is known for its hard rock and even proto-heavy metal sound, their debut Shades Of Deep Purple displays a more diverse approach to not only musicianship but also songwriting. They would grow bolder on their next releases before a lineup change would alter their musical direction, but if you are a fan of Deep Purple or even just of ‘60s hard rock, you would do well to seek out this highly entertaining album.

Rating: B+

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© 2008 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tetragrammaton, and is used for informational purposes only.