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Deep Purple - Shades Of Deep Purple CD (album) cover

SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

3.30 | 535 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The birth of Mandrakeroot!

We have to go back some 40 years for Deep Purple's debut album. While Blackmore, Lord and Paice are already on board, Gillan and Glover have yet to arrive, the vocalist and bassist here being Rod Evans and Nick Simper respectively.

For an opening track to a debut album, "And the address" is a wonderfully brave instrumental featuring blistering Hammond organ and occasional lead guitar bursts. The organ sound is clean and exciting, any psychedelic overtones being largely suppressed by the heavy rock. This is an immediate statement of Deep Purple's prog credentials from the proto prog era.

Things take a quick turn towards mainstream when Evans sings for the first time on a cover version of The Beatles "Help". This early interpretation may now sound prosaic, but it should be recognised that back in 1968 few people had heard the song performed as a slow ballad with a rich organ backing. The reworking has obvious implications that Deep Purple had discovered the way Vanilla Fudge were converting pop songs into heavy rock classics, and liked what they heard.

Lord and Evans team up to write "One more rainy day", a straightforward 60's pop song with tight harmonies. While pleasant, the song is anonymous, offering little indication of the band's future direction. Another clear indication of the band's early influences is the cover of "I'm so glad", a song made popular by Eric Clapton's Cream (but not a Cream original). As might be expected, Blackmore takes the opportunity to include a workout on guitar for the solo section. Blackmore's contribution to the album as a whole is somewhat muted, Jon Lord being by far the dominant partner instrumentally. The rendition of "I'm so glad" is preceded by a "Happiness" prelude (helpfully listed as part 2 of the track on my cassette sleeve) which allows the band to include another improvised organ driven instrumental workout.

"Mandrake Root" (surely not named after an esteemed member of our site) would be developed by early line ups of the band into a 30 minute monster. Here though, they confine themselves to a mere 6 minutes. The songs is very Jimi Hendrix like in its style of delivery, Evans even doing a passable imitation vocally. The latter half of the track is effectively an early glimpse of the unwieldy jam the track would become.

Deep Purple enjoyed early singles success with their cover of American singer songwriter Joe South's "Hush". The song, more recently covered by Kula Shaker, is transformed by Deep Purple into an exciting up-tempo pop number with a fine vocal arrangement. The fact that this is the only song from this period of the band's history to still feature in their live performances and to appear on Best of compilations is witness to the longevity of the recording.

Blackmore and Evans combine to compose "Love help me", a straightforward pop rock song saved only be a brief wah-wah solo by Ritchie. The album closes with a lengthy rendition of "Hey Joe". The true composer of this song seems to be a matter of some confusion, with Dino Valente (AKA Chet Powers) sometimes receiving he credit. (Coincidentally, I mentioned Valente in my last review of the "Rock machine I love you" sampler). It appears however that the song was actually composed by American Billy Roberts, who may have assigned the copyright to Valente to help the latter whilst in prison. The song is also sometimes assumed to be traditional, and on that basis Deep Purple conveniently claim the writing credit here. This version is similar to Jimi Hendrix's interpretation, except that here the organ plays a much more dominant role. It certainly makes for a powerful ending to the album.

"Shades of Deep Purple" deserves recognition for the pioneering nature of the music it contains. While by no means entirely original, indeed the evidence that they were to a large extent following a path already trodden by Vanilla Fudge is undeniable, it must be remembered that this album predates by several years the music made by many of the prog bands who appear on this site. On that basis, Deep Purple's classification as a Proto prog outfit is already secured by this album alone.

Note that this review reflects the order of the tracks as they appeared on music-cassette.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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