Classic Album: Deep Purple-Deep Purple In Rock.

Nowadays, the seventies are regarded as the golden era for rock music. It was when rock music came of age. It’s certainly when commercial success and critical acclaim came the way of Deep Purple. Between 1970 and 1975 they enjoyed were on of the most successful British rock bands and enjoyed commercial success and critical acclaim worldwide. The album that started this run of commercial success was Deep Purple In Rock which features one of the hardest rocking groups of the seventies in their heyday.

Vying with Deep Purple for the title of Kings of seventies rock were Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Just like Deep Purple, they were hugely successful and hard rocking bands. They were also the hardest living living rock groups and this lead to them being known as the “unholy trinity of British hard rock and heavy metal.” The three groups were proud of their infamy and wore it like a badge.

The “unholy trinity’s” penchant for the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle was legendary with excess and extravagance an everyday occurrence. Similarly,  chaos and carnage was omnipresent as the “unholy trinity” toured the world. Each group seemed to determined to outdo the other as hotel rooms were wrecked, televisions thrown out of windows  and copious amounts of drink and drugs consumed. This would ultimately come at a human cost later in the seventies with the death of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham. Until then, the party continued and the “unholy trinity” continued to make what would be remembered as some of the best, and most memorable music of the seventies. They were living the dream. Especially Deep Purple, who had only been formed in 1968.

Deep Purple were formed in 1968 in Hertford. However, the story begins in 1967 when ex-Searchers drummer, Chris Curtis, contacted London based businessman Tony Edwards with a business proposition. He wanted to create a supergroup which he would name Roundabout. The idea behind the name was that the lineup was fluid. Members would come and go, on what was akin to a musical roundabout. Tony Edwards liked the idea and brought onboard Jon Coletta and Ron Hire. They named their new venture Hire-Edwards-Coletta (HEC) Enterprises. Now with financial backing, Chris Curtis started putting together Roundabout.

The first member of Roundabout was Jon Lord, a classically trained organist who had previously played with The Artwoods. Guitarist Richie Blackmore, who recently, had been working as a session musician in Hamburg auditioned and he too joined Roundabout. So did bassist Nick Simper whose most recent band was The Flower Pot Men and was a friend of Richie Blackmore. The two other members of Roundabout were also friends.

Rod Evans was then recruited as the nascent group’s lead vocalists. Previously, he was a member The Maze whose drummer was Nick Paice. He became the final piece in the jigsaw. However, he was not the first choice drummer.

Originally, Bobby Woodman was meant to be Roundabout’s drummer and was the drummer when Rod Evans auditioned as vocalist. Richie Blackmore had previously watched Nick Paice playing live and was was impressed with the young drummer . Although he was just eighteen, Richie Blackmore knew he was a good drummer. So when Bobby Woodman headed out to buy cigarettes, Nick Paice was auctioned. Instantly, everyone realised he was a better drummer and when Bobby Woodman returned with his cigarettes he was told he was no longer Roundabout’s drummer. This must have been a huge disappointment for him. However, it meant that Roundabout’s lineup was settled. Or so people thought.

Roundabout were kitted out with the finest equipment and lived at Deeves House in South Mimms, Hertfordshire. This was their home during March 1968 and that was, until they headed out on a short tour of Denmark and Sweden. It was during this tour that Roundabout became Deep Purple.

It was Richie Blackmore that came up with the name Deep Purple. This was the name of his grandmother’s favourite song and  was the name he wrote on the blackboard when everyone was asked to choose a new name for the nascent band. Deep Purple wasn’t the favourite though. That was Concrete God. However, the members of Roundabout decided against it. They felt the name was too harsh and Roundabout became Deep Purple and began recording their debut album in May 1968.

Shades Of Deep Purple.

When Deep Purple entered Pye Studios, in Marble Arch, London Deep Purple in May 1968, they had chosen ten songs for their debut album Shades Of Deep Purple. Seven songs were written by members of Deep Purple. The other three songs were cover versions. This included Joe South’s Hush, Lennon and McCartney’s Help! and Joe Roberts’ Hey Joe which is synonymous with Jimi Hendrix. These ten songs were recorded by the original version of Deep Purple. This included vocalist Rod Evans, drummer Ian Paice, bassists Nick Simper, organist Jon Lord and guitarist Richie Blackmore. Producing Shades Of Deep Purple was a friend of Richie’s, Derek Lawrence. Once Shades Of Deep Purple was recorded, it was released later in 1969

When critics heard Shades Of Deep Purple they weren’t impressed. Reviews were mostly negative. Since then, critics have rewritten history and most reviews of Shades Of Deep Purple are positive. Back in 1968, things were very different. Shades Of Deep Purple was perceived as  an unfocused album with its  mix of psychedelia, progressive rock, pop rock and thanks to Richie’s guitar riffs, hard rock. That was why many critics disliked Shades Of Deep Purple. Record buyers had different ideas about Shades Of Deep Purple,

Shades Of Deep Purple was released in July 1968 in America. It reached number twenty-four in the US Billboard 200 charts. This was no doubt helped by Hush reaching number four in the US Billboard 100 charts. Two months later, Shades Of Deep Purple reached number fourteen in Britain. For Deep Purple their debut album had been a commercial success and their lives transformed.

After the commercial success of the single Hush and Shades Of Deep Purple, Deep Purple were booked into a gruelling tour of America. Their American record company, Tetragrammaton, decided that Deep Purple should record another album. So Deep Purple headed into the recording studio in September 1968 to record The Book of Taliesyn.


The Book of Taliesyn.

Time was against Deep Purple. There wasn’t long before their American tour began and they only had five new songs written. They had to rely upon cover versions to complete The Book of Taliesyn. Neil Diamond’s Kentucky Woman, Lennon and McCartney’s We Can Work It Out and River Deep, Mountain High completed The Book of Taliesyn and it was released in America in December 1968,

Just like Shades Of Deep Purple, The Book of Taliesyn was a mixture of psychedelia and progressive rock. The only difference was it had a harder edge. Deep Purple’s trademark sound was evolving and critics seemed to prefer The Book of Taliesyn. It received a much more favourable reception from critics. This was also the case upon  the release of The Book of Taliesyn.

Released in December 1968, The Book of Taliesyn reached number fifty-four in the US Billboard 200. Two singles were released in America. Kentucky Woman reached number thirty eight in the US Billboard 100 charts. Then River Deep, Mountain High stalled at number fifty-three in the US Billboard 100 charts. The Book of Taliesyn charted in Canada and Japan. It seemed word was spreading about Deep Purple. However, in Britain, The Book of Taliesyn failed to chart. That wasn’t the only problem Deep Purple would have.


Deep Purple.

By 1969, Deep Purple were becoming a tight, talented band. Onstage and in the studio they were growing and evolving and this included as songwriters. Although they’d only been together just over a year they were a much better band. They had released two albums and were touring constantly. There was a problem though. Which direction should their music take?

Some members of Deep Purple wanted their music to take on a rawer, harder sound. This didn’t please everyone. Lead vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper were in the minority. Organist Jon Lord, guitarist Richie Blackmore and drummer Nick Paice wanted the band to change direction. With the band split, this wasn’t the best way to prepare for the recording of their third album Deep Purple.

For Deep Purple, the band were keen to turn their back on cover versions. Deep Purple only featured one cover version, Donavon’s Lalena. The eight tracks were all written by members of Deep Purple. Just like their first two albums, Deep Purple would be produced by Derek Lawrence.

Recording of Deep Purple took place during a two-month tour. Deep Purple had ensured they had some free days where they could record their third album during January and March 1969. Recording took place at the De Lane Lea Studio, London. They were familiar with the De Lane Lea Studio. Previously, Deep Purple had rerecorded The Bird Has Flown there and were familiar with the room. This allowed them to work quickly. With their reputation in America growing they wanted their eponymous album released as soon as possible.

As soon as Deep Purple was recorded, Deep Purple jumped on a plane and headed back to America. They rejoined the tour of the country that had claimed them as their own. There was a problem though. Tetragrammaton, Deep Purple’s American label hadn’t pressed the album. Worse than that, the label had financial problems. Within a year, they would be insolvent and filing for bankruptcy. Already, this was affecting Deep Purple. Their manager John Colleta headed home. He decided that this would save on a hotel room. Things it seemed, couldn’t get any worse for Deep Purple.

On the release of Deep Purple in June 1969, the album had a harder sound. Elements of blues, progressive rock and heavy metal combined on seven tracks. The exception was The Bird Has Flown. It veered off in the direction of classical music. Mostly, though, Deep Purple’s trademark sound was evolving. How would critics and fans respond to Deep Purple?

Given the problems with Tetragrammaton, it’s no surprise that Deep Purple wasn’t a commercial success. Tetragrammaton couldn’t afford to promote Deep Purple properly. Despite generally positive reviews from critics, Deep Purple stalled at 162 in the US Billboard 200 charts. It failed to chart in the UK on its release in November 1969. At least Deep Purple charted in Japan. Things looked up when Deep Purple was certified gold in Germany. That was the only good news Deep Purple enjoyed.

The tension that was within Deep Purple bubbled over after the release of their third album. This lead to vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper being replaced. In came vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. Little did anyone realise that this would later, be perceived as the classic lineup of Deep Purple. It was also the lineup that recorded the album that saw Deep Purple make a commercial breakthrough in Britain, Deep Purple In Rock.


Deep Purple In Rock.

With their new lineup, Deep Purple Mk II entered the studio for the second time. They made their recording debut on Concerto for Group and Orchestra which was a collaboration between Deep Purple and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. However, Deep Purple In Rock was the start of a new era in Deep Purple’s history.

Recording of Deep Purple In Rock took place at IBC, De Lane Lea and Abbey Road Studios. A total of seven songs were recorded. They were written by Deep Purple. These seven songs showcased the new Deep Purple. The music was heavier and more like what would be seen as their classic sound. This was essentially hard rock or heavy metal. It was after the success of Deep Purple In Rock that lead to Deep Purple being referred to as the third member of the “unholy trinity of British hard rock and heavy metal.

Deep Purple released Deep Purple In Rock on 3rd June 1970. This was Deep Purple’s first album to be released to widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. It was the first Deep Purple album to reach the top ten in Britain. Deep Purple In Rock reached number four in Britain. In America, Deep Purple In Rock only reached number 143 in the US Billboard 200 charts. Elsewhere, Deep Purple In Rock was a huge commercial success worldwide. 

From Europe to Argentina, America and Japan, Deep Purple In Rock was a huge success. This resulted in gold discs for Deep Purple in America, Argentina, Britain, France and Holland. For Deep Purple, Deep Purple In Rock was a game-changer. Their decision to change direction musically was vindicated. Now, Deep Purple were one of the biggest bands in rock music. This was apparent on Deep Purple In Rock.

Speed King explodes into life, opening Deep Purple In Rock. Deep Purple’s rhythm section are at the heart of the action. Ian Paice’s drums crack and pound, and with Roger Glover’s bass, drives the arrangement along. Meanwhile, Ritchie Blackmore unleashes a blistering, searing guitar. Ian Gillan delivers a powerhouse of a vocal on this slice of good time rock. This gives way Jon Lord’s psychedelic keyboard solo. Then a scorching guitar solo is unleashed at breakneck speed. When Ian’s vocal returns, briefly, he pays homage to Little Richard with a burst of Tutti Fruti. By then Deep Purple are in full flight. It’s an impressive sound, as one of the “unholy trinity”  kick loose, and showcase their considerable talents before reaching a dramatic crescendo.

Just Ritchie Blackmore’s crunchy guitar opens Bloodsucker. It’s played with speed and precision before the rhythm section join the fray.  So does Ian Gillan’s powerful vocal. He’s always in control. Even when his vocal gives way to a vamp that’s reminiscent of Jimmy Page. By then, Deep Purple are in full flight. Ian is swaggering and strutting his way through the lyrics. When his vocal drops out midway through the song, Jon Lord’s keyboards and Richie’s guitar take centre-stage. They unleash peerless solos as they feed off each other. This inspires the rest of Deep Purple. Somehow they raise their game. A hard Deep Purple are accompanied by a machine gun, vampish vocal from Ian Gillan. It’s the finishing touch to this swaggering slice of glorious über hard rock.

Understated keyboards open Child In Time. They’re played slowly and thoughtfully,  taking care not to overpower Ian Gillan’s vocal. It’s tender and heartfelt, but grows in power and passion. When the vocal drops out, the rhythm section and cooing harmonies combine. Soon, though, the vocal becomes a powerful vamp as the momentum grows. Ian Paice sprays machine gun drums before Ritchie Blackmore unleashes a blistering, rapid fire guitar licks. By then, the arrangement is galloping along, all the time, gathering speed. It’s akin to a jam now. Deep Purple enjoy the opportunity to stretch their legs. Jon Lord’s keyboard solo goes toe-to-toe with the guitar. That’s until the arrangement almost grinds to a halt. Then keyboards begin to rebuild the arrangement. They’re joined by the vocal which is a mixture of drama and theatre. Later, harmonies add to the drama as the arrangement builds, before this ten minute hard rocking opus reaches a dramatic ending.

From the get-go, Deep Purple are rocking hard and fast on Flight Of The Rat. The rhythm section power the arrangement along, while scorching, blistering licks are unleashed. Ian Gillan delivers another swaggering vocal. By then, he had established himself as one of the top rock vocalists.  Similarly, Ritchie Blackmore was one of the top rock guitarists, and his ability to play with speed, precision and accuracy is highlighted here. The same can be said of keyboardist Jon Lord. Meanwhile, the rhythm section anchor the arrangement, as Richie unleashes a succession of machine gun licks. There’s even a few funky licks thrown in for good measure. Then after the song almost grinds to a halt, Deep Purple are off and running. Drummer Ian Paice and Richie on guitar enjoy their moment in the spotlight, before the group reunite. They head for the big finish on what’s another epic track.

The rhythm section and guitar combine on Into The Fire. It’s slower than previous tracks, but is just as rocky and heavy. Especially as Ian Gillan delivers a  gravelly, vocal powerhouse. Behind him, the deliberate arrangement features Deep Purple at their heaviest. Later when the vocal vocal drops out, a scorching guitar sits atop, the chugging arrangement. When Ian returns, he continues to unleash what’s one of his best, and most powerful vocals, as Deep Purple seamlessly fuse elements of blues, psychedelia and rock. 

Drums set the scene on Living Wreck, before washes of psychedelic organ and scorching guitars enter the fray. They’re joined by another lived-in, throaty vocal from Ian Gillan. When his vocal drops out, washes and flourishes of keyboards join the rhythm section and scorching guitar. Midway through the track, the bass and keyboards add an element of darkness while searing guitars cut through the arrangement.  Later, Ian who sounds as if he’s lived and survived the lyrics, delivers a vocal masterclass. Then keyboardist Jon Lord steps forward and unleashes a breathtaking performance. His keyboards play an important part in the sound and success of Living Wreck, which is a truly timeless track.

Hard Lovin’ Man closes Deep Purple In Rock. Dramatic, rocky flourishes are followed  by machine gun guitars and psychedelic keyboards.  They’re joined by thunderous bursts that come courtesy of the hard rocking rhythm section. Equally hard rocking is Ian Gillan powerhouse of a vocal. Again, it’s reminiscent of Jimmy Page as it soars above the arrangement becoming vampish. By then,  the arrangement is galloping along. Richie Blackmore unleashing guitar licks like a gunslinger. Jon Lord’s keyboards have a sixties sounds as he plays them with speed and precision. Sometimes he stabs at them, and they wail like a siren. Later, a searing guitar solo cuts through the galloping arrangement.  It became a jam, before Ian’s vocal returns. Just like the rest of Deep Purple, he plays the role of Hard Lovin’ Man to a tee, as they take their bow on Deep Purple In Rock.

Although Deep Purple In Rock was Deep Purple’s fourth album, it was the album that transformed their career. Before Deep Purple In Rock, the only success the band had enjoyed was a gold disc in Germany for their third album Deep Purple in 1969. A year later, Deep Purple In Rock was released to widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. It reached number four in Britain, but only reached number 143 in the US Billboard 200 charts. However, elsewhere, Deep Purple In Rock was a huge commercial success worldwide. 

From Europe to Argentina, America and Japan, Deep Purple In Rock was a huge success. This resulted in gold discs for Deep Purple in America, Argentina, Britain, France and Holland. For Deep Purple, Deep Purple In Rock was a game-changer. Their decision to change direction musically was vindicated. Now, Deep Purple were one of the biggest bands in rock music. This success lasted until 1975.

Following Deep Purple In Rock, Deep Purple released another six albums between 1971 and 1975. These albums saw Deep Purple become one of the biggest bands in the world. This started when 1971s Fireball reached number one in Britain and thirty-two in the US Billboard 200. As a result, Fireball was certified gold in Germany, Holland and America. However, this was just the start.

Having made a breakthrough in America, Machine Head was released in March 1972. It reached number seven in the US Billboard 200 and number one in Britain. Across the English Channel, Machine Head was certified gold three times in France. In Argentina, Machine Head was certified platinum. However, Machine Head was most successful in America, where it was certified double-platinum. However, this wasn’t the end of Deep Purple’s commercial success during 1972.

On its release in December 1972, Made In Japan reached number fifteen in Britain and was certified gold. Made In Japan reached number one in Austria, Germany and Canada. In Norway, Made In Japan reached number seven. Then in April 1973, Made In Japan reached number six in the US Billboard 200. For Deep Purple, this resulted in even more gold and platinum discs.

Across the word, Made In Japan was a commercial success. After being certified gold in Britain, it was then certified gold in France. Made In Japan was then certified platinum in America, Austria, Germany and Italy. In Argentina, Made In Japan was certified double platinum. Just four years after they first formed, Deep Purple were one of the most successful rock bands in the world. This was set to continue.

When Who Do We Think We Are was released in January 1973, it reached number four in Britain and number fifteen in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in gold discs in America and France. Compared with Deep Purple’s recent  success this was seemed slightly disappointing. To make matters worse, vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover left the band after Who Do We Think We Are. Deep Purple’s career looked like it was at a crossroads.

It wasn’t. The two departing members of Deep Purple were soon replaced. A then unknown David Coverdale became Deep Purple’s vocalist. Glen Hughes of Trapeze took over as bassist. They had big shoes to fill. However, with the help of the remaining members of Deep Purple, managed to do so during 1974. It was one of the busiest years of Deep Purple’s career.

Burn was the first of two album Deep Purple released during 1974. On its released in February 1974, it reached number three in Britain and number nine in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in gold discs in America, Argentina, Britain, France, Germany and Sweden. Then when Stormbringer  was released in November 1974, it became apparent that Deep Purple had incorporated elements of soul and funk in their music. Despite this, Stormbringer   reached number six in Britain and number twenty in the US Billboard 200. Stormbringer  was certified gold in America,, Britain, France and Sweden. 1974 had been one of the most successful years of Deep Purple’s career. Sadly, 1975 was the beginning of the end.

When Deep Purple’s tenth album Come Taste The Band was released in October 1975, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had left the band. Replacing him on the album was Tommy Bolin. With this latest change to the lineup, Come Taste the Band still reached number nineteen in Britain and forty-three in the US Billboard 200. Come Taste The Band was certified silver in Britain, and gold in Argentina and Czech Republic. While Come Taste The Band didn’t match the success of previous albums, that was the least of Deep Purple’s worries.

Following the release of Come Taste The Band, David Coverdale and Glen Hughes left to form Whitesnake. This lead to Deep Purple splitting up in 1976. However, Deep Purple reformed in 1984. This lasted until 1994, before Steve Morse revived the Deep Purple name. However, Deep Purple never again enjoyed the commercial success they enjoyed between 1970 and 1975. 

Deep Purple’s breakthrough album was Deep Purple In Rock in 1970. This was the start of five years of commercial success and critical acclaim. During that period, Deep Purple challenged Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath for supremacy as most successful and hard rocking band. There was also another competition going on. This was to see which of the “unholy trinity of British hard rock and heavy metal” was the hardest living band. It was a close fought and hard won contest.  

Over the years, Deep Purple’s penchant for the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle was legendary. It came with the territory. This was after all,  rock ’n’ roll during the early seventies. Chaos and carnage was omnipresent and expected as Deep Purple toured the world. This never seemed to affect Deep Purple’s music. Proof of of this is Deep Purple In Rock which features Deep Purple at their hard rocking, hard living best on the album that transformed and launched their career.

Classic Album: Deep Purple-Deep Purple In Rock.









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