Written Before Review
For the next classic, I was asked multiple times by my friend to review Deep Purple In Rock. Last year, he requested the album “POWER UP” by AC/DC. That album review was the review that launched the Spirit Of Radio Podcast I did with that same friend. A year later, he would recommend me “Deep Purple In Rock”, despite already choosing my classics, I decided, it’s a request, why not? I’ll do it. I’ve listened to this album once and I enjoyed it, but let’s see if I enjoy it even more this time around. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Deep Purple emerged in the early 1970s and were students of the British Rock that emerged in their time. A lot like early metal acts, they were extremely influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Cream, but they were also avid listeners of early prog like Moody Blues and Iron Butterfly. What made them separate them from the others is not only the stronger influence from psych-rock but more influence from the British Invasion with some of the grooves and riffs. While Sabbath was taking rock to its darkest, Deep Purple was taking rock to its most energetic and anthemic qualities.
Deep Purple wasn’t the only 5 piece rock band in the early 1970s, but most of the 5 piece rock bands were in progressive rock bands. Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Paice, Gillan, and Glover all have really good chemistry. There are surely times were Jon Lord takes the spotlight or Blackmore takes the spotlight, but only when it’s necessary. Deep Purple is not one of those instances where they promote one member over the other, they are a band’s band. Every member co-aligned with everyone’s direction. When the instrumentation took a climax, Gillan did too. When Blackmore goes with this solo, Lord provides the rhythm and vice versa to make something heavier and more impactful. I said it already, and ill say it again, Deep Purple is a bands band and they make amazing music while doing it. The tracks “Flight Of The Rat” and “Into The Fire” show how much chemistry they have in a certain direction and the track “Child In Time” alone is what every rock band tries to accomplish. Plus, the solos on this thing have so much more finesse with a good behind it. When Lord or Blackmore takes a solo, Glover is grooving and Paice is filling out of his mind. When Paice comes with a killer fill, the rest of the band knows to give him the spotlight. What I’m trying to say is that Deep Purple has the skill, but the members that surround them are what make the band better.
Deep Purple’s Place In Rock
Before this review, most people only knew them from songs like “Smoke On The Water” and “Highway Star” but they are much more than that. First off, they are one of the first metal bands alongside Black Sabbath. They were also one of the first bands to create arena rock. With anthemic riffs, rocking solos, and big rock endings, they were the blueprint for bands like Van Halen, AC/DC and even early Queen. It’s unfortunate because Deep Purple was always overshadowed by other bands at that time, but Deep Purple should be considered a high point of the early 70s. Let me also remind you that in the span of 42 minutes, Deep Purple only bring us 7 songs. Surely their contemporaries weren’t strangers of that but their long tracks stand out. “Child In Time” is a prog epic with a climax that competes with the likes of the “Stairway To Heaven” and “Free Bird”’s of the world. “Flight Of The Rat” is a psyched-out banger with a groovy beat but a progressive structure with energetic solos and a riff that sounds like the soundtrack of your first time getting drunk and high at the same time. As you can see Deep Purple wasn’t below the level of their contemporaries, they were just as good as the legendary bands they needed to compete against.
This album, in a nutshell, is a Hard Rock/Heavy Metal album with Bluesy undertones but their influences of rock & roll, progressive rock, and psychedelic rock made them such an enjoyable band. It’s not like they were trying anything over-ambitious but they were expanding the heavy psych movement that was going on in the late 60s. They took the progressive psychedelia of Pink Floyd, the heavy riffs of Sabbath, and added a dash of Rolling Stones to create a band that something for everyone. It not only got along with the metal fans but the psych-rock fans, blues-rock fans, prog rock fans, and fans of guitar worship.
I lastly want to talk about the production of this record. Let me first talk about Blackmore’s guitar tone. His tone was easily one of the most recognizable at that time as it didn’t have a lot of high end. It had a tone that was similar to Hendrix and Clapton but it was less spacey and more gritty. I will also like to talk about the drums, most specifically the snare. The snare is mic’d perfectly. I love how much bite the snare has. Deep Purple had some amazing production choices but the person I want to talk about is Jon Lord. One of the most important sounds in Deep Purple’s music is the distorted organ. Jon Lord bought a Marshall amp and plugged it into his Leslie to create that crunchy and synthetic sound. Deep Purple man, they are legends, and you know when a band has legendary status when you talk about each band members’ production setting’s like that.
Around this time last year, his request of AC/DCs Power Up gave me my first below-average review, this time around he came with one of the best recommendations given to me. Not only because of it being a good record but being so overshadowed in not only the hard rock scene but in the Deep Purple catalog. I wonder what he will bring this time next year.