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Deep Purple - Deep Purple In Rock CD (album) cover


Deep Purple



4.34 | 1151 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Deep Purple In Rock, 1970

Probably going to raise a few hairs with this one, but here goes. In Rock is clearly considered a seminal hard rock/metal album, and understandably so. It's dirty, heavy, a bit groundbreaking, has a couple of killer tunes and some of the best straight musicians out there on it. Unfortunately, being heavy and well-played doesn't necessarily make for a consistently stunning album (coincidentally, the progressive leanings aren't jump-out obvious here, sure, they're there, but it's a clear virtuosic hard rock album first and foremost). First off, let me say that the opener Speed King is 42,633 types of awesome, all the songs are listenable, solid, and have some pretty good moments (as well as the odd killer riff), but none of the others is really an especial highlight for me. Clearly a must-have if you're a hard-rock person or simply love a plain instrumental/heaviness showcase for what it is, even if you aren't, the historical import of In Rock probably makes it a must, however, from a personal point of view, nothing more or less than a consistently pretty good album with one blowaway song and a couple of other very impressive ones (Flight Of The Rat, Hard Lovin' Man).

As I said, Speed King is simply leagues ahead of the rest of this disc, it's leagues ahead of just about any other hard rock I've heard... the keening, forceful, hurtling solo from Blackmore, the reverent organ, and then the all-out ear-blasting take on rock'n'roll, with thunderous but tight drumming and Gillan belting out with all possible verve the mixture of dirty blues and mock-Presley lyrics adds up to one of the best songs I've ever heard, hammering through the speakers right into the gut. A cool organ/guitar duet fills up an instrumental break while Glover's bass puts out some more churning lines, before the song slides off into its anarchic conclusion. The energy, the riffs, the soloing and the feel are all fantastic, and an absolutely killer sound from the production adds to it. Easily the best thing on the album, in my view, and worth the price of the whole thing.

Bloodsucker is remarkable mostly for Gillan's screaming 'Oh nonono!', but, to be fair, the riff is pretty memorable and well constructed, even if it wallows a bit, and the whole vocal performance is quite cleverly done. The obligatory instrumental break, in spite of some cool Blackmore soloing and a neat flourish from Lord is so disjointed it virtually loses my interest, and the only change for the return of the verse seems to be an annoying vocal effect. Not bad, but hardly a standout.

The iconic Child In Time, while not as impressive to me as to most others, it seems, does deserve its status in a way. Delicate, but gradually building in power, a great, defined organ tone from Lord, and a much more low-key and accessible vocal from Gillan, perhaps showing off a bit more of his range and contribution to the band, it's an understandable classic and a good song. Really, though, I think the first few minutes are merely nice developments of one melody, and only after that do we come onto the real gold of the harder-rocking mid-section, complete with a slightly meandering, but nonetheless great fun, solo from Blackmore. A return of the vocals, with an ever-excellent rhythm section, marks a considerably more moving and powerful revival of that melody with a newfound sense of direction in the rhythm section and Lord's more chaotic organ-work. Don't get me wrong, it's a very good song, but not, for me, the classic which it's often made out to be.

Flight Of The Rat is another pure rocker, with a hell of a kicking riff, a good vocal, more solid drumming and extremely neat funk-tinged solos from Blackmore and Paice stuck into the mix. The energy is back, and only an overly noodlesome Lord solo brings the song down a bit for me. Approaching the opening in terms of general coolness.

Into The Fire... well, Bloodsucker wallowed only a little, Into The Fire takes it to a whole new level of extended, awkward, shuffling riff with an obvious effort at both seriousness and heaviness, which comes off instead as laboured and plain daft. Basically unimpressive, not even really redeemed by a Blackmore solo, and for once Gillan comes across as a liability rather than an asset.

Living Wreck opens with a cool solo drum part, before a Hammond swipe brings it forwards, and though a particularly cool bass part comes through the mix, the opening and the swipes are definitely the song's most memorable bits. The riffs are heavy and clear, though one is clearly better than the other, I have mixed feelings about the vocals, the more rhythmic use of the drums is great, and the lyrics don't do much for me. One of Lord's better moments, and overall a good thing.

Hard Lovin' Man begins with kicking riffs and some ferocious organ dissonants, before Gillan kicks in with a slightly watery but nonetheless energetic performance, and it continues as a sort of showcase piece in its own way, with more great work from Paice, a grinding, albeit unconvincing, organ from Lord, a classy and collected solo from Blackmore, and some of the album's arguably most progressive moments (mainly messing around with sound effects and production, nothing Hendrix hadn't done earlier), before heading off to a noisy conclusion. Good stuff, by and large.

Black Night opens with a surprisingly calm riff, before Jon Lord's hazy organ latches on and Ian Gillan throws in his fairly fun set of vocals. It's essentially a slightly volumed-up pop song, with a very neat drum part from Paice and a small, but neat organ solo as well as the immense ability of Blackmore wailing off without all too much direction. Memorable and fun, but not an outstanding number. The rest of the bonus material is either studio chatter or forgettable/missable. I'd guess it's worth getting the 25th Anniversary remaster for anyone more enthralled with the band than me, though... it has a lot of bonus goodies.

In short, could do with more direction (especially the solos... for a band so strong, the solos manage surprisingly little other than showing the skill of the players), a bit more balance and a bit more real atmosphere rather than plain musicality and heaviness (a criticism I've levelled at just about every hard rock album I've heard, not just this one). Undeniably very good most of the time, but not my favourite style of music, and perhaps not essential for fans of progressive rock who aren't so interested in a general understanding of classic rock. A conservative three stars from me on a personal level, but four for historical importance/doing what it sets out to do. Rating: Three Stars subjectively, perhaps four if we're trying objectivity. Favourite Track: Speed King

TGM: Orb | 3/5 |


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