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Deep Purple - Deep Purple CD (album) cover

DEEP PURPLE

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

3.61 | 625 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Deep Purple's self titled album was their 3rd album, but the last album to use what would become known as the Mark I line- up. The band had just come off of their world tour for 'Book of Taliesyn', and were discussing moving away from the psychedelic and classical/rock mix that was pushed by Jon Lord, and was going to move to a more blues-based rock sound. Because of this, Ritchie Blackmore was starting to get more say in writing the songs of the band, and both him and Jon had improved greatly. Even though this album still sees a lot of keyboards from Lord, it also sees the band use longer guitar solos. The music tightened up quite a bit for this album.

Unfortunately, the album didn't perform as well, even in the US, which is where the band was the most popular at the time. The reason for this is blamed on the record label, who was pressing the band for a new album, and gave them less time to put it together. Instead of being able to compose the music over time, the label forced the band to compose in the studio, and quickly put the music to record. On top of this, the label didn't have a lot of money to push this album or to help fund the new tour, and so, the album faltered in sales when it was released, and it was mostly ignored.

Of course, the blame was passed around, and in business, when sales falter, someone has to be the scapegoat, and it definitely isn't going to be the higher ups. So the band looked amongst themselves for the reason, and most of them seemed to think that Rod Evans' voice just couldn't pull of the heavier sound they were moving towards more and more. So, they secretly started recruiting new singers, and Ian Gillan from the band 'Episode Six' got the job. Along with him came bassist Roger Glover, who worked together with Gillan in Episode Six as a co-writer, and, even though there were no plans to fire Nick Simper, they ended up doing just that to bring in Glover, and so this brought about the end of the Mark I line-up and began the band's most successful Mark II line-up.

However, for this album, the original line-up remained, and we still end up with a pretty decent album anyway. You can tell there is a little newness in the band, but the album began the steps toward the sound that the band is famous for, and also their best releases. Lord still has plenty of keyboard solos, that never really changes as long as he was there, and that was also what was expected from the band. But the addition of Blackmore's heavy guitar, the band was on their way to becoming one of the premier hard rock bands in the world.

There is plenty to enjoy in this album, and even though it may sound a bit more novice sounding than the following albums, it still has some great sounds, like the excellent guitar and keyboard solos in 'Why Didn't Rosemary?', which was inspired from the band's experience of watching the movie 'Rosemary's Baby' together. There is also the harpsichord soloing in 'Blind' from Lord, which shows the band hadn't completely moved away from the classical influence. All of the music on this album is original and written by the band, except for 'Lalena' which is an excellent cover of a Donovan song.

The 2nd side of the album does have the best tracks on it, and they are the more aggressive tracks. There are 2 tracks that break the 5 minute mark, both of them some of the best music on the album, and then there is the epic 12 minute 'April' which sees Lord back to arranging strings for the track that stretched that track to the needed longer length. But, that was another big change on this album, the fact that the songs were mostly shorter, except for 'April', which ends up being the most important track on the album. The band still managed to show us that quality can replace quantity when it comes to the length of the tracks. And, there was the obvious move away from the psychedelic sound of the first two albums. At this time, psychedelic music was losing it's popularity, so it was only natural that in order to stay relevant, they moved to their more popular blues-oriented rock. In this album however, there is still enough of the progressive sound to keep it interesting, but there is less of that, however, there is more hard hitting heavy rock. Even so, the music also shows a more emotional side of the band, even Rod Evans was able to make the vocals sound convincing and emotional enough. Of course, he would be no match for Ian, who would sing on the next album, but he held his own.

We end up with a satisfying, yet far from perfect album from Deep Purple here. But, to me, it is that imperfect, less polished sound that seems to be more convincing to me. I still love parts of all three original albums, and play them regularly, probably just as much as their later albums like "Deep Purple in Rock", 'Machine Head', 'Fireball', 'Who Do We Think We Are' and even 'Burn'. But, I have never thought that DP was complete without their first three albums, this third one probably being the strongest of the original trilogy. It may sound a bit outdated now days, but on a great album, that doesn't matter. It is the sound that people keep coming back to and also continues to inspire.

TCat | 4/5 |

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