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

THE BOOK OF TALIESYN

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

3.21 | 515 ratings

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TCat
3 stars Deep Purple's 2nd studio album "Book of Taliesen" was released in 1968, recorded only 3 months after their debut album's release "Shades of Deep Purple". Even though the band at that time was not having successful record sales, the record company could see the dollar signs because their concerts were well attended and they were considered one of the top underground bands. The band blamed the record company that they didn't know how to sell records. Of course, we all know that later they became megastars, but for now, they were just trying to discover their sound.

The line up of the band during this time, remained the same for their first 3 albums which were all recorded and released within a year's time. The lead singer at the time was Rod Evans, who in 1980, during the band's first hiatus, tried to tour under the name Deep Purple and was sued for it to the current equivalency of two million dollars. After this, Rod has never appeared in public and has faded into obscurity. It was after his departure that Deep Purple really became popular, and the lead singer at that time, Ian Gillian, was the one that carried the signature DP sound during the height of their popularity. But for now, we have to be satisfied with Rod Evans.

For this album, the sound is very psychedelic and their target market was the hippies. The sound is similar to "Vanilla Fudge" and that seems to be the style they were shooting for at the time. This comes instantly apparent in the first track "Listen, Learn, Read On". The vocals are spoken on the verses and sung on the choruses with a lot of reverb. The music is strong psychedelic rock and unpolished, but that give it a certain charm and mysteriousness. I remember turning in several potato chip bags to get 10 free singles which I had to send in for, and this was one of the singles which was released with "River Deep Mountain High". I wish I still had that because it's probably worth a lot now. As a 10-year-old child who barely had any musical knowledge, I found this song very interesting and was curious about it, but I didn't dare turn it up too high because my parents might think I was high or something. But the song has definite personal meaning to me.

Next is "Wring That Neck" which is an instrumental, mostly lead by the signature organ of Jon Lord. This is followed by a blistering guitar solo from Ritchie Blackmore. It's really great to hear them in their early days and how they were really the best talent of the band even though the recording has much to be desired. The remastered version sounds better, but still has that slightly prehistoric sound.

Deep Purple's first two albums were made up of original songs and covers, in the case of this album, of 4 original songs and 3 covers. The next track is their cover of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman". Deep Purple's psychedelic rocked out version of this track is the much better version, but it is still obviously meant to be a single. Rod even gives his best "Psyche-Presley" impersonation, at least one of Elvis going over the edge. The organ solo in the middle is excellent, as to be expected. Of course, that is edited out of the single version.

"Exposition/We Can Work it Out" is a split track that starts with a DP original instrumental that has a Spanish Bolero feel to it that eventually quickly increases in speed to a dramatic organ solo that flows into The Beatles cover, which is a fairly boring and lifeless track. Paul McCartney expressed his appreciation of the band's cover of "Help!" on the debut album and suggested they do this cover on this album.

"The Shield" is a midtempo track which is surprisingly underwhelming. "Anthem" comes off as a ballad in a Spanish style with acoustic guitar and bass. Percussion and organ join in later. This track probably has the best vocals on the album, but unfortunately, the melody isn't really that interesting. In the middle section, a small string ensemble gives the track a nice baroque feeling over which we get a nice electric guitar solo.

"River Deep, Mountain High" is the Ike & Tina Turner cover, which is the highlight of the album. It starts out with an obvious Strauss inspired opening. It slowly builds in tempo and intensity with a long introduction which eventually returns to the fanfare intro again. Jon Lord's classical training really comes out on this one and his desire to make Deep Purple a Symphonic Rock band is apparent. About 4 minutes in, vocals start with a dark undertone on the first verse and full fledged rock on the chorus and after. The instrumental break features a great guitar solo before coming back to the chorus.

The remastered version has 5 more bonus tracks with the same psychedelic rock style as the rest of the album and definitely help add to the album. There are 3 radio sessions and 2 studio outtakes that didn't make the original album.

The album definitely shows more maturity than the debut, and it also shows that the band is having more input as the tracks are generally longer with more soloing and development. However, the album was done quickly, and it shows. The songs are better, just not necessarily done better. I find the album worth while for the tracks "Listen Learn Read On", "Wring That Neck", and "River Deep, Mountain High". The other tracks could have used more work as they seem more mediocre. Still, this is a good album, especially if you are a DP fan, and those that love psychedelic jam music will enjoy it. The progressiveness of the band shows better development in this album than in the debut, and things would continue to get better, especially after Ian Gillian joins the band with a much more dynamic voice with a wider range.

TCat | 3/5 |

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