Deep Purple – Shades Of Deep Purple (1968)

FrontCover1.jpgShades of Deep Purple is the debut studio album by the English rock band Deep Purple, released in July 1968 on Tetragrammaton in the United States and in September 1968 on Parlophone in the United Kingdom. The band, initially called Roundabout, was the idea of former Searchers drummer Chris Curtis, who recruited Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore before leaving the project. The Mk. I line-up of the band was completed by vocalist/frontman Rod Evans, along with bassist Nick Simper and drummer Ian Paice, in March 1968.

After about two months of rehearsals, Shades of Deep Purple was recorded in only three days in May 1968 and contains four original songs and four covers, thoroughly rearranged to include classical interludes and sound more psychedelic. Stylistically the music is close to psychedelic rock and progressive rock, two genres with an ever-growing audience in the late 1960s.

The album was not well received in the UK, where it sold very little and did not chart. In the US, on the other hand, it was a success and the single “Hush”, an energetic rock track written by Joe South and originally recorded by Billy Joe Royal, became very popular at the time, reaching number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The good sales of the album and the intense radio play of the single contributed largely to the attention Deep Purple would get in their early US tours and also during the 1970s. Modern reviews of the album are generally positive and consider Shades of Deep Purple an important piece in the history of Deep Purple. (by wikipedia)

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The usual perception of early Deep Purple is that it was a band with a lot of potential in search of a direction. And that might be true of their debut LP, put together in three days of sessions in May of 1968, but it’s still a hell of an album. From the opening bars of “And the Address,” it’s clear that they’d gotten down the fundamentals of heavy metal from day one, and at various points the electricity and the beat just surge forth in ways that were startlingly new in the summer of 1968. Ritchie Blackmore never sounded less at ease as a guitarist than he does on this album, and the sound mix doesn’t exactly favor the heavier side of his playing, but the rhythm section of Nick Simper and Ian Paice rumble forward, and Jon Lord’s organ flourishes, weaving classical riffs, and unexpected arabesques into “I’m So Glad,” which sounds rather majestic here. “Hush” was the number that most people knew at the time (it was a hit single in America), and it is a smooth, crunchy interpretation of the Joe South song.

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But nobody could have been disappointed with the rest of this record — one can even hear the very distant origins of “Smoke on the Water” in “Mandrake Root,” once one gets past the similarities to Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”; by the song’s extended finale, they sound more like the Nice. Their version of “Help” is one of the more interesting reinterpretations of a Beatles song, as a slow, rough-textured dirge. “Hey Joe” is a bit overblown, and the group clearly had to work a bit at both songwriting and their presentation, but one key attribute that runs through most of this record — even more so than the very pronounced heaviness of the playing — is a spirit of fun; these guys are obviously having the time of their lives rushing through their limited repertoire, and it’s infectious to the listener; it gives this record much more of a ’60s feel than we’re accustomed to hearing from this band. [The EMI/Spitfire re-release from 2000 is notably superior to any prior version of the CD, made from the original master tape (which had been sent directly to the group’s American label, Tetragrammaton, leaving EMI with a vinyl dub, astonishingly enough), with textures far closer and crisper than have ever been heard before — there are also five bonus tracks, two very early outtakes from their earliest sessions, an alternate version of “Help,” a BBC recording of “Hey Joe,” and a searing live U.S. television performance of “Hush.” (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Ritchie Blackmore (guitar)
Rod Evans (vocals)
Jon Lord (organ, background vocals)
Ian Paice (drums)
Nick Simper (bass, background vocals)

Booklet05+06
Tracklist
01. And The Address (instrumental) (Blackmore/Lord) 4.39
02. Hush (South) 4.25
03. One More Rainy Day (Lord/Evans) 3.40
04. Prelude: Happiness (Blackmore/Evans/Lord/Paice/Simper)/I’m So Glad (James) 7.19
05. Mandrake Root (Blackmore/Lord/Evans) 6.10
06. Help! (Lennon/McCartney) 6.01
07. Love Help Me (Blackmore/Evans) 3.49
08. Hey Joe (Roberts) 7.34
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09. Shadows (outtake)(Lord/Evans/Simper/Blackmore) 3.39
10. Love Help Me” (Instrumental version) (Blackmore/Evans) 3.30
11. Help! (alternate take) (Lennon/McCartney) 5.24
12. Hey Joe (BBC Top Gear session, 14 January 1969) (Roberts) 4.06
13. Hush (Live US TV, 1968) (South) 3.53

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