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WINDOWS

Jon Lord

 

Prog Related

3.30 | 23 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Look back in Renga

Jon Lord has always been the most progressive of the members of Deep Purple. Right from the band's earliest days, he encouraged them to take risks and to experiment beyond the boundaries of conventional rock. Deep Purple's "Concerto for group and orchestra" was his first major work, after which he decided to peruse a parallel solo career for future classically influenced outings. The BBC commissioned "Gemini suite" was the first of his solo studio releases, but even this was performed live by the band.

In 1974, Lord got together with conductor Eberhard Schoener and the pair composed the two pieces which comprise the album "Windows". Lord called in his new Deep Purple band mates David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes plus Tony Ashton (Ashton Gardner and Dyke) Ray Fenwick (Ian Gillan Band) and Pete York (Spencer Davis Group, Hardin and York). To this was added the Orchestra of the Munich Chamber Opera.

The two pieces were performed live in Munich in 1 June 1974 as part of a Eurovision presentation, and the recording of the event released on the fledgling Purple Records. Each piece occupies one side of the original LP. The result is somewhat unbalanced in terms of length, with "Continuo of B.A.C.H." running to but half the time of the three part "Window" suite.

"Continuo on B.A.C.H" is a variation on an incomplete fugue composed by Bach which was based on the four letters of his surname. There is of course no letter H in music notation, so it is represented by B sharp. (A fellow member with greater music knowledge than I explains that "In Germany the letter H is formally the way to describe the b sharp note as it is in most countries".) While for obvious reasons the piece has been well rehearsed, it generally has the feel of an improvisation. Off key playing of various instruments and jazz like passages combine to create an atmosphere of looseness. The purely orchestra sections therefore contrast more obviously than they would with a more rigid composition. The risk with such pieces is that they come over as pretentious and insincere. While Lord just about manages to keep such thoughts at bay, the symphonic passages do suffer from the usual malaise of rock stars who wannabee classical composers in that they become pseudo-classical. As with Bach's original composition on which this piece is based, there is a feeling as it ends that it is incomplete.

With all the grand pretensions of the wonderful prog of the early 1970's, "Window" is based on 14th century collaborative poetry from the far east called Renga, the lyrics of the 1st and 3rd movements being taken from a "contemporary renga" (found by Michael Kruger). The second movement is based on a vocal section of the aforementioned "Gemini suite".

During the first movement, David Coverdale and/or Tony Ashton do battle with a pair of sopranos, but in terms of avant-garde vocalisation, the latter win by a mile. Once again, the suite is a cross between almost straight classical styles and jazz rock improvisation. Whether the two styles sit well together is for the listener to decide, but overall the music is generally pleasing. Unfortunately, as was all too customary for the period, Pete York is allowed to add a quite superfluous and yawn inducing drum solo. At times, during the more melodic passages, I was reminded of Rick Wakeman's "Journey to the centre of the earth", although the two albums as a whole are quite different.

The sleeve notes for the album claim that this is a warts-and-all recording, devoid of over- dubs, and there is no reason to question this.

A remastered edition of "Windows" will be/was re-released in November 2009 to recognise the 35th anniversary of its recording.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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