In Rock

Deep Purple

Warner Brothers, 1970

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When Warner Brothers Records signed Deep Purple, they had to wonder what they had gotten themselves into. This, after all, was a band who had one hit with “Hush,” and whose first three albums hadn't exactly set the musical world on fire. Add into this they had fired their singer Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper, and replaced them with Ian Gillen and Roger Glover, respectively, and their first album for their new label was Concerto For Group And Orchestra, not exactly a disc that was going to light the fires of superstardom.

Oh – and the first studio single with the new lineup, “Hallelujah,” was a flop.

So, it would be safe to assume that no one anticipated the sonic roar that was In Rock, Deep Purple's fourth studio effort (and fifth album overall). It not only set the tone for the Mk II lineup of Deep Purple, but it solidified their place in the annals of rock music history.

Take the legendary “Child In Time”. Feel the intensity grow from the light touch of Jon Lord's Hammond organ to Gillen's vocals that add layer after layer on with each passing line. It all eventually erupts in a wonderful sonic explosion, topped with some outstanding guitar work from Ritchie Blackmore – only to return to the gentleness, begging for yet another musical eruption.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Slightly lesser known, but just as classic, is “Speed King,” a track which pays homage to the first 15 or so years of rock music's history in the lyrics, all wrapped up in a package and thrown into the musical spin cycle on “high”. If you don't know this track, get acquainted, pronto.

The remaining tracks on In Rock, surprisingly, have not gotten the same level of attention… which is a shame, because there is precious little filler on this disc. Only “Into The Fire” could be called a weaker track – and it still is enjoyable. But take a little time out of your day to discover the joys of songs like “Bloodsucker,” “Flight Of The Rat” and “Hard Lovin' Man,” and you too may be asking why these didn't become hits as well… especially in a time when radio wasn't afraid to play songs off the whole album, not just the one or two that the label was pushing.

An expanded version of this disc was released upon the album's 25th anniversary – and the addition of the non-album single “Black Night” makes me wonder why it never made the cut for the album in the first place. Honestly, this has been a favorite track of mine since I first got into Deep Purple some 30 years ago. While I could have lived without the noodling around in the studio, at least those interludes are kept very short, breaking up the space between the alternate takes and remixes. And while none of these are essential listening, they are still enjoyable, and don't distract from the original seven songs.

If Shades Of Deep Purple was the band's birth cry two years prior, then In Rock was its mating call, featuring a band who was finally ready to level anything that got in their way. Had their career ended here, it would have been a powerful way to go out – but, fortunately, it became a chapter in a long (and sometimes troubled) career for the band.

Rating: B

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