Released: 1968, Eagle Rock
I don’t know what I could say about Deep Purple that hasn’t already been said. There have entire books written about the band by fans and journalist much more knowledgeable than I. I’m sure there are hundreds of reviews of Deep Purple albums that already exist in-print and on-line. However in the spirit of giving the venerable act more representation on our site and in celebration of the bands pending 45th anniversary, I’m going to review the MK I era albums. Feel free to check out the other two reviews in this series and you may recognize some similarities in this trio of ‘public service’ style reviews. I say ‘public service’ because these reviews are more to let people know about this fine reissue campaign rather than a noble attempt to add something worthy to the already massive canon of literary works dedicated to the band.
Eagle Rock has just reissued the first three Deep Purple albums, SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE (’68), THE BOOK OF TALIESYN (’68) and DEEP PURPLE (’69) each with rare and unreleased bonus tracks. The albums themselves are not rare, in fact I don’t think they have ever been out of print. Hell, I recently saw a new, sealed copy of THE BOOK OF TALIESYN on cassette in the bargain bin of a major retailer…for $1.00! I’m not an expert but these are among the better reissues in recent memory. Each CD comes with liner notes, bonus tracks and a cool reversible cover with a replication of the original cover art for the purist.
SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE is one of the early starting points for Hard Rock, back to where it all began. 1968. Eight Songs. 36 Minutes. Four of those are cover tunes. You get a total of 18 minutes of original music. Some bands have a single song that runs longer than two or three Deep Purple albums combined! Humble origins indeed! With this reissue with the bonus tracks the disc clocks in at a generous 64 minutes. Mind you Deep Purple MK I put out three albums in 12 months and these days fans are lucky if one of the bigger Metal bands puts out an album every three years.
I would suggest that it make take an older more experience Hard Rock/Heavy Metal fan to connect the sonic lineage started by Deep Purple on SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE. In other words, it ain’t heavy! However, if you listen you can similarities and hear how the sound influenced many bands to come. For example, listen to the introduction of ‘And The Address’ and then listen to ‘Prelude’ , the first song on Yngwie Malmsteen’s 1985 sophomore album MARCHING OUT. Ol’ Yngwie has never hidden his love of Deep Purple and the similarities are present. There are many more example if you know where to listen. Is it just me or when Alice Coopers sings in his crooning style, he sounds a bit like Evans?
‘Hush of course was the big hit on this one and the song still makes the rounds on classic rock radio today. Your enjoyment of the other cover tunes will depend on your familiarity with the originals I suppose. Admittedly the band does really mess with the originals. The Beatles tune ‘Help’ was under two and half minutes and Purple stretch it to over six and their version of Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’ gets doubled to over seven minutes. As for the original, you can certainly hear the origins of the rock and roll especially on cuts like ‘Mandrake Root’.
The packaging is gorgeous, lots of pictures, a nice essay, great sound, lots of technical release data and the bonus tracks are various live, demos, outtakes and stuff pulled from TV or BBC sessions. All great material for the enthusiast especially with three unreleased tunes and a a pair of tunes for the first time on CD.
Who would I recommend this album too? Just about everyone! If you are not versed in the band this is a great way to start your exploration of the bands utterly massive discography. The only people who may want to pass are the fans who already own the album on vinyl, cassette, CD and don’t really care about a couple of obscure bonus tracks from 40 years ago. Otherwise this is an essential purchase for the die-hard Deep Purple fan who has to have everything.