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Deep Purple - The Book Of Taliesyn CD (album) cover

THE BOOK OF TALIESYN

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

3.17 | 376 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars An album of old Welsh poetry? Not exactly!

Deep Purple's second album retains the Mark 1 line up which includes bassist Nick Simpler and vocalist Rod Evans. Once again, the band go for a combination of their own compositions and a handful of covers. The title is taken from a famous Welsh book (spelt slightly differently as "Taliesin") which contains some of the oldest poems written in the Welsh language.

The album kicks of in what in retrospect sounds like full Spinal Tap mode, the spoken introduction to "Listen, learn, read on" now inadvertently having all the seriousness of "Stonehenge". The track has distinct similarities with the type of music Atomic Rooster would develop slightly later, this being emphasised by the driving Hammond organ.

The fine instrumental "Exposition" sees Blackmore already pushing his guitar much further forward than it was on the band's debut. This leads into a frantic organ driven quasi-classical rendition by Jon Lord, similar to much of what appeared on Beggar's Opera's debut album. The piece acts as an introduction to the first cover version on the album. Lennon McCartney's rather funky "We can work it out" is perhaps a less obvious choice to cover that the first album's "Help". The interpretation here is surprisingly faithful to the original, Blackmore's guitar inflections being the only real difference until Lord finally lets go with a improvised run on organ.

As a closet admirer of the work of Neil Diamond, the cover of his "Kentucky woman" is rather enjoyable. Whether this through and through pop rendition actually adds much to this album though, is a matter for debate. The instrumental soloing does however distinguish it from the crooner's original. The vocals here are at times particularly reminiscent of the sound of the Doors.

The Lord/Blackmore/Evans composition "Shield" at first sounds deceptively simple. However, this six minute piece turns out to be a finely crafted number with slightly understated vocals and some excellent guitar work. The following "Wring that neck", like Mandrake Root" from the debut album was developed into a never ending live monster. Listening to this relatively brief 5 minute version, it is easy to see why, the track being quite simply an opportunity for the band to let their hair down and jam along in fine boogie fashion.

The final cover is a 10 minute interpretation of Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep mountain high" (although Ike did not actually appear on the recording), a song written by Phil Spector in partnership with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. The wall of sound, which was the key characteristic of the original, inspired George Harrison on his "All things must pass" album. Here, that wall of sound is largely replaced by the Hammond organ, this version initially being a slowed down, elongated dirge of the type Vanilla Fudge created so perfectly. As the track progresses, it becomes a more orthodox cover of the original.

The album closes with the Lord/Evans composition "Anthem". This delightful ballad features what is arguably Evans finest vocal performance, supported what sounds like the rare appearance of a mellotron. The middle section is a classically based amalgam of strings, organ and guitar which combine in true prog fashion to create a wonderful whole.

In all, "The Book of Taliesyn" may not see Deep Purple moving on significantly from their debut album, but it still contains a wealth of music which was well ahead of its time. Anyone with any residual doubts about why Deep Purple are listed on this site should investigate this album, along with the previous release, for the reassurance they seek.

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

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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