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SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

3.29 | 376 ratings

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stefro
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Before morphing into the hugely-successful proto-metal outfit that produced such hard-rockin' classics as 'In Rock', 'Machine Head' and 'Burn', Deep Purple were very much a group whose early sonic style was rooted in both the short-lived psychedelic phenomenon of the late-sixties and the emerging progressive rock scene of the early-seventies. Largely ignored in their homeland during these formative years, the group - at this time featuring the MK 1 line-up of Rod Evans(vocals), Jon Lord(organ), Ritchie Blackmore(guitar), Nick Simper(bass) and Ian Paice(drums) - would nevertheless manage to strike commercial gold throughout the USA thanks to the shrewdly-picked single 'Hush'(latterly covered by psych-pop outfit Kula Shakur during the mid-nineties Brit-pop boom). 'Hush' reached no.4 on the US BIllboard charts, yet despite this surprise success the UK proved a much harder nut to crack, and it would be several more years before Deep Purple became a name-brand in their own country. However, the USA was different. Thanks to 'Hush', the group's resultant debut album 'Shades Of Deep Purple' would also prove popular, thus laying the foundations for a four-decade long career that has seen the name Deep Purple become synonymous with both hard rock and heavy metal, the group in the process becoming one of the most successful and famous of all British rock bands. But what of their debut? A flowery, organ-soaked albeit hard-edged slice of rough 'n' ready psych-tinged rock, 'Shades Of Deep Purple' is indeed a curiosity, though at the same time and despite the stylistic differences from their later, better known material, this is still unmistakeably Deep Purple. The upbeat and catchy 'Hush' apart, 'Shades Of Deep Purple' is a genuine mixed bag of covers and original material, organist Jon Lord the dominant force throughout. The group's slightly anaemic cover of 'Hey Joe' suffers from poor quality production, a factor which hampers much of the album, whilst 'Help' - which was released as a single in the UK to little fanfare - also fails to set the pulse racing despite a ballsy display from original vocalist Rod Evans. However, despite the slightly uninspired nature of these tracks, the superior original material does provide occasional nuggets, with the Ritchie Blackmore-penned 'Mandrake Root'(the name of the guitarist's previous group) showing off some impressive organ-guitar interplay. Very much an album caught between several stylistic stools, 'Shades Of Deep Purple' is a fascinating glimpse of group caught in their embryonic stage of development. The mixture of hard-rock riffs, jazzy organs and lucid psych-pop may well turn fans of the group's classic sound away, though this is much more than just a dated curiosity. The weak covers - and 'Hush' - aside, Deep Purple's debut is a solid slice of hard-edged psychedelia for those who find The Beatles just a little bit too soft.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

stefro | 3/5 |

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