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Deep Purple: Reviews From A Hater

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Initial post: Nov 24, 2012 12:58:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 1:02:06 PM PST
OK, so by now most of you who have been paying attention know that I am not all that crazy about Deep Purple, in particular the famed MK II version of the group. AlexMontrose has practically made it his personal crusade to portray me as a "faux elitist" snob (his own words) for not liking them, so in response I have decided to tackle their catalogue in chronological order from the debut album up until "Burn". Warning: these reviews will not be from a fan. In fact, the point of this exercise will be to submit a perspective of the group from a non-fan, and see how others respond.

However, I want to stress that this thread is not a troll or a put-on or a cheap way to get attention (although I know I will be accused of all three things). First and foremost, I would like to actually start a non-game thread around here that might spark some lively and spirited debate (and what better way to do this, than to provide controversial opinions of a band that's pretty well-liked around these parts?). Second, I plan on listening to these albums with as open a mind as I possibly can, and give detailed and constructive reviews which can be responded to by anyone who cares. In fact, I encourage and challenge any DP fan here to try and change my mind about the group. Although some twenty years of dislike has hardened my stance of the band, I have not heard the entire catalog and some of my opinions can change with time or with pointers on what to re-listen for. So I encourage participation.

Before I started listening to the albums for this thread, I had heard only "Shades Of Deep Purple", "Deep Purple", "In Rock", and "Machine Head" in their entirety. I had heard about 2/3 of "Fireball", about a third of "Made In Japan" (and yes, I know that's the big it'll be interesting to see what I make of the whole thing), and two or three songs each from "Book Of Taleisyn", "Who Do We Think We Are" and "Burn". I had seen the entire video of the Concerto For Rock Group And Orchestra on youtube, but have not heard the actual album (although from what I understand, the concert on video *is* the recording on the album).

At this point, I actually think the MK I version of the band is half-decent, with some very good material mixed in with some mediocrity, and the third album is my favorite DP album overall. As soon as Gillan joins the group goes straight downhill, IMO, and a large part of this has to do with my kneejerk revulsion for the man's vocals (much more on this when we get to it). Another part has to do with their new streamlined "rawk" sound which I believe traded bombast and formula for actual creativity. Them's fighting words, I know, but I'm not going to leave it at that--there will be much more analysis on the matter when I get to MK II, and as I re-listen I will still try to have as open a mind as possible (I know it looks like my mind is closed already, and it might be, but I will *try*, I promise!).

Anyways, I expect no-votes galore for my opinions but that's par for the course. As long as the debate is civil (hear that, Alex?) and the focus stays on discussing the *music* and not personal attacks (hear that, Alex?), it should be an interesting ride. I will begin on the next post with reviews of the first two DP albums, "Shades Of Deep Purple" and "Book Of Taliesyn". Since I prefer the MK I version of the band I actually had fairly favorable reactions to both of these efforts, so things should start out gently enough for now (although I realize that some MK II fans don't like much of MK I at all, so I'm sure there will still be some dissent, especially from people flabbergasted that I prefer MK I to MK II).

Anyways, I don't know if I'm just totally crazy for doing this, but we'll see how it goes. If things get too vicious I'll stop, but the thread I had on Porcupine Tree went well for a while and I'm hoping to re-create that here. Also, anyone please feel free to post your own opinions and reviews of these albums at any time, or counter any of my assertions (in a respectful manner). Now, on with the show...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 1:12:30 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 1:35:59 PM PST

I think that this thread is a great idea. I look forward to reading your reviews and what promises to be, colorful replies. I promise not to no vote your opinion, or anyone else.

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 1:23:17 PM PST
Michael man sometimes your stuff is like a lawyer on speed. Just detailed and precise and long and lawyerly argued. I'm too messy in my thoughts. Dyslexic thinking. I like a lot of the same stuff as you but your style is just too much for me sometimes.

Deep Purple were a great band. When you put on "Highway Star" it just rocks!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 1:29:31 PM PST
Captain Ogre says:

If this is even half as good as your reviews of the entire PT catalog, it'll be great.

I'm at an early disadvantge, though, since I don't own any MK I albums, but maybe it's time I corrected that

RE: "Made In Japan" (and yes, I know that's the big one...)

Sorry for jumping ahead, but I just don't get that one. That may be because I only got into the band in recent years, so don't have a personal connection to the times. It'll be interesting to hear what you think

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 1:31:10 PM PST
Captain Ogre says:

One thing you can count on is the reviews will be thorough ;o)

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 2:09:35 PM PST

Since I actually prefer the more free-form psychedelia, acid-rock and hard rock of the late 60s to much of the hard rock and early metal of the 70s, it perhaps isn't too much of a surprise that I warm best to the MK I version of the band. Rod Evans isn't exactly the greatest vocalist of the period, but I vastly prefer him to Gillan, so this allows me to focus more on the music since I'm not automatically turned off by the vocals on top. And the debut album, "Shades Of Deep Purple", was a good start for the band. The album was apparently recorded in only three days and it shows a bit--much of it feels live with few overdubs, and the overall production and sound is a bit ragged. This was not the group's fault, of course; they were new and untried and probably just happy to be making an album to begin with. In some cases the rushed, raw feel works for the album, although in other cases it detracts (mostly seeing as how Deep Purple's grandiose, massive sound was more conducive to a higher production standard).

The album takes from a lot of contemporary influences in psychedelia/acid-rock floating around in 1967-68: Cream, Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge, The Nice, Steppenwolf, Procol Harum, The Brian Auger Trinity, etc. Fuzzed Hendrix-inspired guitar, swirling classically-inspired organ, and a booming rhythm section all coalesce to create an acid-fused Wall of Sound: right down my alley, actually. This is most pronounced on the final track, their cover of "Hey Joe", when the band reaches a crescendo and then dramatically stops playing, leaving only a few quiet studio sounds left.

So far, so good. The iffier aspects of the album (besides the ragged production mentioned earlier) lie in the compositions themselves. Half of the album is covers, while half are originals. These vary in quality, so it's best to go track-by-track. The album opens with the original instrumental "And The Address". This is a good mission statement for the band, delineating their live heavy rock sound rather well, and is both hook-filled and well-played. This is immediately followed by "Hush", their first big hit and a song I've always liked. The propulsive, groovy rhythm and one of Evans' best vocals combine to make one easily understand why this was the breakout from the album. It's not a masterpiece on the level of "Hey Jude" or "Sympathy For The Devil" from that year, but it's a cooker. This one-two opening punch is very strong and if the whole album had continued on the quality of its opening cuts, it might have been a classic.

As it stands, the third track "One More Rainy Day", is a bit of a turkey. The first of two Evans tracks on the album, he just wasn't that good of a songwriter at this point, and the song is an odd and unappealing marriage of the group's harder acid-rock sound with a much lighter, almost bubblegum, 60s pop style. It's a weird mix and just doesn't work at all--it's easily skipped. This is followed by the group's cover of Skip James' "I'm So Glad", which is based on the Cream arrangement, but which adds a proggy classical opening bit based on a Korsakov piece. This opening bit is heavily inspired by The Nice (hold the vitriol for a sec, Alex, I'll deal with this point soon enough) and one of the most dramatic and exciting portions of the album, proving that the classics really could be rocked out nicely. When the "I'm So Glad" part comes in, it's pretty similar to Cream's, even down to Blackmore copying Clapton's solo almost note-for-note (though Blackmore adds a pretty gnarly psychedelic guitar timbre). This portion of the track is listenable, though a bit too close to Cream's for comfort, and its most notable segment remains the Korsakov part.

Side two opens with a bang: "Mandrake Root" is one of the very best MK I era compositions and one of DP's best numbers, period (at least of what I've heard up to this point). Live versions--including performances in Paris and London in 1970 that can be found on youtube--are much more intense than the studio version here, although to its credit what we have on "Shades" is still an incredible showcase for the band's instrumental muscle. A great Hendrixian groove and acid-fuelled playing by all.

At this point in the game I have to address Jon Lord's playing, and his playing in the group from that point on. This is because of the lengthy Emerson/Lord debates I have had with Alex in which I claimed that Lord was influenced in his classical-rock keyboard style by Keith Emerson's work in The Nice during this period. To me this was pretty self-evident but Alex (in spite of having never heard The Nice) instead thought that Lord's keyboard style came out of a vacuum and was entirely his own creation (in fact, one can hear throughout "Shades" keyboard work inspired not only by Emerson but by Brian Auger, Matthew Fisher and that guy in Vanilla Fudge). What got lost in the fierce debate surrounding whether or not Lord was influenced by Emerson, was that I was not--and never did--claim that as a negative against Lord!! I was only refuting someone else's assertion that Lord was the first to incorporate the hammond in a heavy-rock setting. In fact, Lord is a very talented and virtuosic keyboardist who was one of the first and best to pick up on what Emerson and Auger were doing at this time, and this is demonstrated no better than on "Mandrake Root". I *like* (at least, at this point...I have a few critiques of his style later on) that Lord was influenced by Emerson, just as I like Ritchie Blackmore's playing although it is also so clearly influenced by Hendrix (on this album, especially). On "Mandrake Root" the two attack their instruments in pretty stylish and intense fashion. Easily the highlight of the album.

And then...arrgh! Another of the group's big influences besides The Nice at the time was Vanilla Fudge (yet another band that used the organ in a heavy rock setting, btw), and we now get a *very* Fudge-like cover of The Beatles' "Help!". Apparently Paul McCartney himself liked the cover, but to my mind it is far too slow and plodding and kind of drones on and on, in spite of a few brief swelling crescendos designed to give it some drama. It's certainly similar to Vanilla Fudge's slow and heavy versions of songs like "You Keep Me Hangin' On", but whereas The Fudge were able to wring reams of drama and suspense out of their covers, Purple's here is oddly flat to these ears.

This is followed by the second Evans composition on the album, "Love Help Me", which is only slightly less abysmal than "One More Rainy Day". As a singer, he's OK, but as a composer, he pretty much tanks the album. This song has the same problems "Rainy Day" did--a much too odd marriage of heavy rock and 60s pop stylings (and the group should have never attempted backing vocals). The song is slightly redeemed by Blackmore's wah-wah, although even there it's underused. Finally, the album closes with the aforementioned "Hey Joe", based on the Hendrix version, but greatly expanded and with an added classical portion a la "I'm So Glad". This time it's a bolero, and the group can be credited as one of the first to use the bolero beat in rock (Jeff Beck beat them to it with "Beck's Bolero", but that's all I can think of at the moment). Again, the group's proto-prog stance during the intro works rather well, with Lord's constantly swirling classical organ and Blackmore's psychedelic-Spanish flourishes. The sound is massive, but then gives way to the song proper, which like "I'm So Glad" is acceptable but again a bit too close to the Hendrix take (right down to the backing vocals), with a little bit more of Vanilla Fudge's approach mixed in. It's a good Evans vocal, though, and the bolero bit comes back to end the piece quite epically, before those quiet studio sounds close the album for good.

Overall, "Shades" was actually a promising debut. Blackmore isn't as dazzling as he would be in about a year's time, but he's still one of the better Hendrixian guitarists circling the psychedelic scene then. Lord is consistently good throughout, and picks up on the brand-new classical/prog influences in UK rock. Evans is good, though not great, on vocals. The album's weaknesses--the two Evans songs, the boring flat cover of "Help!", the roughshod production--are noticeable but do not overwhelm the proceedings, leaving one with an overall positive impression by the close. I've re-listened to the album twice now and these are my track-by-track rankings:

And The Address 4
Hush 4
One More Rainy Day 2.5
I'm So Glad 3.5
Mandrake Root 4.5
Help 3
Love Help Me 3
Hey Joe 4

Overall grade: 3.5 out of 5 (a "B-" grade, maybe a "B" on a really good day)

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 2:14:42 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 11:34:12 AM PST

Seeing as you like the Mk I Deep Purple the best I'm curious what you think of Warhorse, Nick Simper's band after he was cast off from DP. They made two very good albums (IMO).

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 2:14:46 PM PST
@Anthony Fernandez: "Michael man sometimes your stuff is like a lawyer on speed."

LOL! This is a much funnier (and more accurate) assessment of my longwinded style than any barb AlexMontrose has been able to come up with.

@Ogre: here's a youtube link to "Shades Of Deep Purple" for you, the full remastered version w/bonus tracks:

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 2:15:53 PM PST
@RandStoner: I've never heard of them! If I feel like it after getting through this marathon, I'll check 'em out. Your tastes are very similar to mine, so if you like them, I may, too.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 2:19:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 2:27:57 PM PST
AlexMontrose says:
Wow Topper :) :)

I just read the first paragraph up there. You've always been a deer in the highlights when it comes to Purple (that was for Ogre ;) and many others grey areas ;) but you're going to tackle all their albums up to Burn !

Hey man, despite our many differences I think that's very cool. I'm going to go out now and get extra tomatoes. Seriously have some fun and I hope you're stereo can handle it. Oh...and if you need to know anything just ask need to go to Wikipedia this time ;) Just kidding...sorta ;)...I'll try and be a good boy.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 2:29:16 PM PST
There more than a few interviews where Jon Lord explains his influences and his style. His distorted Hammond is really unique. And yea he dug classical stuff but he listened to the blues you can hear it in his playing. That riff in unison with Ritchie and the long harmony parts they play together it's very different from ELP or The Doors or Fudge or Butterfly or Heep or Nice. His tone and attack are his own.

He loved Jimmy Smith but then took it heavier. More like Hendrix on keyboards.

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 2:43:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 2:45:49 PM PST
@Anthony Fernandez: I am not saying that Lord did not have his own idiosyncratic way of playing. The whole long debate began out of a simple statement I made refuting somebody's assertion that Lord was the very first to use the organ in a hard rock setting. He wasn't, and that's all I meant to say in that original statement. However, I did expand the argument to point out that a lot of the things Lord is credited with--organ feedback, glissandos, classical quotes in a solo, distortion, etc.--were developed first by people like Keith Emerson, Brian Auger and Mike Ratledge. "Hendrix on keyboards" was actually the exact phrase used by music journalists in the late 60s to describe Emerson. Lord's getting credit for all that is kind of like how Eddie Van Halen somehow got credited with pioneering all these guitar techniques, when they had been used by others for about five or six years by that point (to be fair, though, Lord actually came pretty quickly after the other keyboardists I mentioned, maybe a year after the others' first recordings).

However, none of what I said above is an actual statement about Lord's originality or quality. One can take from others and still add their own idiosyncratic twist to those influences, and Lord was definitely one of those. Also, one can certainly hold the opinion that while Lord may have not been the first at these things, he did them *bigger* and *better* than anyone else (I would contest that but I couldn't possibly refute it, as that would be an opinion and not fact). But I will be discussing Lord's style in more detail as we go along, since his style did change a bit over time.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 2:46:00 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 2:48:17 PM PST
AlexMontrose says:
Re : LOL! This is a much funnier (and more accurate) assessment of my longwinded style than any barb AlexMontrose has been able to come up with.

Geeezuz Topper, right out of the box you're sucking your thumb already? Insecurities plastered all over your first post? Unreal man. Not really. But see a doctor and tell him you have so much stuck in your craw you can't go one minute without trying to get even with me.

I'm sorry Topper but we were all the floor laughing last night after many of the posts, mine too ofcourse...and I'm sorry you're too constipated and lack a sense of humor to appreciate them. Yeah I know you liked the Deer in the highlights did I ;) Just stick to your reviews and try to get me out of your mind for one day huh ? Okay Cool....

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 2:54:28 PM PST
@AlexMontrose: uh, how can I get you out of my mind when this entire thread is an attempt to wring some actual musical discussion out of your constantly pouncing on me for not liking DP enough? The thread is *inspired* by you, and you are mentioned in the OP. Be flattered.

I'll admit, the reply to Fernandez was a jab at you. Can you blame me, after all the crap you constantly hurl my way? I thought what he said was wittier and more accurate than anything you've ever said. So stop sucking *your* thumb and get over it, already. I've posted a review of "Shades", how about responding to that?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 3:19:26 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 3:44:14 PM PST
AlexMontrose says:

Beautiful post about Lords unique style. Seriously....of all the people you've even known, talked to, BSed with about music, when Purple came up did anyone in that conversation even mention Emerson let alone say Lord was influenced by him? I would bet no. It's only because a certain reviewer here has such a love affair with Keith Emerson that he "believes" Lord must have copped off of him.

And this is how the debate started many moons ago. Actually it wasn't that long ago but anyway. Toppers penchant for writing his opinion and fact as if they are one in the same is say the least. It is nothing more than one mans opinion that Lord was influenced by Emerson. And I mean that literally. It would never come up in any other circle, in any other conversation of knowledgeable music fans. Maybe if you were having dinner at Keith Emersons house and his family was there you might hear it. From a jealous Emerson cousin.

But you'll notice Toppers opening speech where he goes up and down and sideways qualifying everything he says (which you humorously called a lawyer on speed). But you just get a headache reading it (although it was well written, I'll give you that Topper) with all the "yeah buts", etc etc.

If the man for once in his friggin' life would just say... it is my opinion that Emerson influenced Lord then you can't really "argue' with that. Although I would ofourse. But it's the way he feels and no one can say you have no right to feel that way. But as you can see already in his post to you and his review of Shades it's peppered with Topper "faux" facts, IOW his opinion is fact....Lord copied off Emerson. That's a fact Jack and he will continue to write in his Roller coaster style saying Lord was influenced by Emerson but !...yada yada yada, that doesn't mean he didn't have a his own style and but uhhh maybe, well sorta.... and and....all that crap.

Bottom line is any DP fan that is tuning in here knows the deal. So just enjoy one mans take on some DP albums...because that's all it is..end of story.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 3:35:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 3:39:01 PM PST
AlexMontrose says:
Ofcourse you "thought" it was "funnier" Topper. When everyone tuning into a thread is laughing at your expense (even the "highlights" thing was at your expense, you just don't get that the build up to that point...what came *that* post and in the thread, the crazy nutcases trying to tear each other apart made that "comic relief" even funnier) you'll go on one of your insecure rants right out of the you did here. That's pretty funny too. Not to you though...;)

But doesn't matter. You know what they say...if you have to explain it then..... And in your case.....I can understand you not thinking everything that was actually hilarious....was hilarious.....because then you would have to have the ability to poke fun at yourself. And you're way too anal retentive to ever do that.

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 3:42:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 3:52:03 PM PST
@AlexMontrose: "So just enjoy one mans take on some DP albums...because that's all it is..end of story."

Yes, that's precisely all it is. "Book Of Taliesyn" is next, I'm just doing a second re-listen first. I see you still have no constructive response to my "Shades" review, as you try instead in vain to make nice-nice buddy-buddy with others here, so you can get them to gang up on me. Go right ahead, I was fully expecting it.

In the meantime, the *original* statement I made which started the whole Emerson/Lord thing *still* stands as--yes, indeed--irrefutable fact: Jon Lord was not the first person to play the organ in a late 60s-style hard rock setting. He may have had his own distinctive way of doing it, sure--but those others (be they The Nice, Vanilla Fudge, Steppenwolf, or even The Doors) did it first.

If the original poster had said something much more specific as Anthony claims like "Jon Lord was the first person to play long harmony parts and riff in unison with a hard rock guitarist", I wouldn't have been so quick to challenge (although it's still possible one may find some earlier precedent somewhere...I seem to remember Manzarek riffing pretty good with Krieger, though it sounded different from the way Purple did it...). But the statement was simply "Jon Lord was the first person to play the organ in that kind of hard rock setting". I immediately thought of The Nice, who did it earlier. I linked you the live clip (performed four months before DP's debut), you finally saw the clip, and I've already excerpted your first reaction to that clip from our private emails in the other thread and guess what, everyone? Alex's *very* first reaction was along the lines of "uh...gee...hmmm...that *is* very similar" before he immediately started backtracking again.

If one can find a band, like The Nice, Vanilla Fudge, or Steppenwolf, who employed an organist with a hard rock guitarist, and who put that sound on record earlier than Deep Purple, this is *fact* that cannot be refuted. Dates cannot be argued with. So your claim that this is all my "opinion" is another pretty poor distraction technique on your part.

Whatever. I hope Emerson/Lord doesn't take up the lion's share of this thread because as I said, whether or not he was or wasn't influenced by Emerson (or anyone else) isn't as important to these reviews as what he did with those influences and the actual music he made.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 4:02:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 4:05:21 PM PST
AlexMontrose says:
Yeah Topper whatever, you sound more desperate than a man on death row. You can extract anything you want, be my guest and ofcourse I can do the same. I reacted like a human being to that clip, not a clinical scientist, which is how you look at music. I said yeah it was similar. Uhhhh duhhhh...let me use my favorite phrase that applies to you 24/7. SO WHAT. If we took every minute or two of a guitar solo that sounded like another guy and claimed he ripped him off because one minute of his 49 million minutes of guitar solos "reminds" you of someone else then according to Topper everyone is ripping everyone else off every time they play. Ofcourse there are similarities and that solo by Emerson and the one by Lord just happen to have a run or two or three in common. That's where it ends. But you are such a friggin' bonehead you made the comment that Lord owes HIS WHOLE CAREER to Emerson !!! If it wasn't for Emerson then Lord....blah blah blah. Yes everyone, that's what he said. So just keep that in mind as you read these reviews.

I'm sure Topper will eventually just concentrate on the other aspects of the records instead of this insistence on bringing in the Lord/Emerson fiasco where he skedaddled out of the Classic rock forum for weeks with his tail between his legs as we all laughed our asses off at this insanely stupid/ignorant comment. But whatever, I don't have to make nice with anyone here Topper, that's your job...24/7 as you try to get along with anybody besides your local librarian. Stick to the reviews buddy and I'll leave you alone. Your choice.

And now I will copy this post if necessary when I go read the other post/thread ;) Have a nice day.

Ohhh good review of Shades, except the whole Lord part. More details later maybe if you try and control your infinite insecurities.

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 4:55:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 5:25:18 PM PST

So after a promising debut, Deep Purple returned to the studio to rectify some of the production and compositional problems that still lingered. They spent more time in composing and recording but were still able to release the album only five months after the debut, thanks to pressure to follow up "Hush". The results were...somewhat underwhelming. In spite of spending more time on it, the resulting "Book Of Taliesyn" just sounded like more of the debut, with a slightly better production but less inspired in both the songs and playing. Nonetheless, there are several magnficent highlights which rescue the album.

The opening "Listen, Learn, Read On" is a very well-played, upbeat original number that just misses the mark...although the group are game here, something doesn't quite connect. Perhaps its the pretentious spoken word vocal and fairy-tale lyrics that sink it, or the unnecessary quiet pauses which interrupt the momentum. I'd like to hear just the backing track of this one as the playing is good, especially the drumming. This is followed by "Wring That Neck", a blues-based instrumental which, like "Mandrake Root", would be greatly expanded on in live performance. The difference is, while the studio "Mandrake" remains pretty awesome regardless, the studio version here of "Wring That Neck" is kind of pedestrian...the little connecting riff is kind of generic, and the playing itself fails to reach any heights, never rising beyond the level of competent bar band. This is especially frustrating when you hear the live versions which *do* spark quite intensely, actually living up to the song's title. The almost happy-go-lucky mood gets old quickly and the track never goes beyond it, not even during Blackmore's solo.

Next, we have the single followup to "Hush", a cover of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman". The group do a good job and there's some similarity in sound to "Hush", but the song itself just isn't as good; it was a weak choice for a cover. The performance climaxes with a nice and typically proggy Lord solo, but overall one can see why the song didn't do as well as its predecessor--although it's bouncy, it's not quite as memorable, and the chorus is kind of annoying IMO. Side one closes with the lengthy "Exposition/We Can Work It Out", which continues a formula established on the debut of introing a well-known cover with a lengthy classical bit. As with the covers on that album, the best part is that classical intro, this time Beethoven. The "heavy" version of the McCartney tune that follows is OK, but the vocal is oddly distant and as with "Help!", I don't really think the slower, looser, more ponderous arrangement does a service to the pithy, focused original. Once again, Lord steals the show with a very brief but flashy solo.

The similarities to the debut continue in that the best thing on "Taliesyn" is what opens side two. "Shield" is easily the highlight here, and their best original composition so far outside of "Mandrake Root" itself. The song boasts a haunting melody well-sung by Evans, a fascinating arrangement and glorious instrumental section with what is easily Blackmore's most soulful and creative solo to date. Lord contributes a very percussive organ backing and while he was not the first to utilize this technique in rock (yes, Emerson and Auger beat him to it, I'm we go again!), it's a very impressive use of it, possibly the best I've heard. Since I had only heard two songs from "Taliesyn" up to this point, this was the first time I had heard "Shield", and it's the first nice surprise I've had so far on this project.

The classically-inspired ballad "Anthem" follows, and is OK but a bit dull. The strings toward the end enliven things and bring some variety to the record; this is one example of the more elaborate production which would serve the band really well on the next album, IMO. Finally, we have the epic re-arrangement of "River Deep Mountain High", once *again* following the "classical intro into contemporary-cover" formula. "Thus Spake Zarathustra" is now given the rock makeover, although this time I'm not really impressed; it doesn't come close to the majesty of the orchestral version. OTOH the "River Deep Mountain High" section rocks pretty good; the group avoid trying to sound like Vanilla Fudge for once, so this is less sludgy-ponderous than some of the other covers. Still, this version of "River Deep" isn't as strong as The Animals' version, coincidentally released the same month on their double album "Love Is".

Overall, "Book Of Taliesyn" showcases some promising new developments--their best original song "Shields", better sound and production, and a bit more variety--but is overall weaker than the debut, sounding for the most part like a less inspired copy. Lord and Paice sound the most energized here; Blackmore's solos are all competent, but the one which gives us a true inkling of what was to come from him is on "Shields". I find it interesting, though, that stylistically the band seemed to be heading in an ever-proggier direction, something confirmed by the next album and "Concerto" but then abruptly cut short by the quick left turn on "In Rock". But more when we get to all's the track-by-track breakdown:

Listen, Learn, Read On: 3.5
Wring That Neck: 3
Kentucky Woman: 3.5
Exposition/We Can Work It Out: 3.5
Shield: 5
Anthem: 3
River Deep, Mountain High: 3.5

Overall: I can't decide on a 3 or 3.5 out of 5. Anyways, that translates to either a B- or C+ grade.

And here's a link to the full album if anyone hasn't heard it yet:

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 5:05:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 5:11:18 PM PST
@AlexMontrose: "If we took every minute or two of a guitar solo that sounded like another guy and claimed he ripped him off because one minute of his 49 million minutes of guitar solos "reminds" you of someone else then according to Topper everyone is ripping everyone else off every time they play."

Oh Gawwd, not this tired argument again. I smashed that to pieces over and over and you keep bringing it back from the dead. It's late November, Halloween's over Alex, you can stop with the zombie arguments now. I'm sure you'll be bringing up your infamous "grey areas" argument it's a real "grey area" that debuts by The Nice, Vanilla Fudge, Brian Auger and Steppenwolf all came out months before "Shades Of Deep Purple". "Born To Be Wild" alone features a distorted organ with a driving hard-rock guitar riff, recorded in the fall of '67.

" made the comment that Lord owes HIS WHOLE CAREER to Emerson !!!"

Another flat-out lie. Please, tell me where I said that. Find the post and quote me. But you can't do that, can you? Because I never said it. Saying that Lord was influenced by Emerson does not equal saying he owes his whole career to Emerson. That's just another one of your exaggerated overly-sensitive paranoid fantasies. Again, if you can find me the quote where I use those exact words, I'd *love* to see it.

"Ohhh good review of Shades, except the whole Lord part."

What, you mean the part where I complimented him and said that he was one of the first and best to pick up on the new classically-inspired keyboard sounds in UK rock at the time? You mean the part where I called him talented and virtuosic? You don't even like it when I have good things to say about him, now!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 5:22:12 PM PST
Captain Ogre says:

Thanks, but I can't stream Youtube here with my broadband card

Anyway, Rand took care of me. Downloading Shades right now, a painfully slow process

And it just now ocurred to me that I can connect my laptop to the auxillary input on my setreo. DOH!
Why didn't I think of that before? I can bring my external hard drive down here, screw the Zune that only holds a fraction of my music. There've been so many times that a discussion here made me want to hear something I didn't have with me. Double DOH!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 5:36:37 PM PST
Captain Ogre says:

I thought Captain Beyond came right after DP?

Thanks for the e-mails!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 5:52:31 PM PST
Captain Ogre says:
RE: Also, one can certainly hold the opinion that while Lord may have not been the first at these things, he did them *bigger* and *better* than anyone else

That is a matter of debate and opinion, as you said. And comparing Lord to Emerson or other prog giants like Wakeman is apples and oranges

What, to me, makes Lord one my favorite keyboardists is the jazz influence. There are times that he and Blackmore seamlessly trading leads reminds me a lot of Jan Hammer and Jon McLaughlin. Lazy is a great example of that
BTW, Hammer and Tommy Bolin used that same technique on Billy Cobham's first solo album, which I thought made him a great choice to replace Ritchie

Before anyone disses me for that last statement, I've made it clear many times I consider MK IV to be Deep Purple in name only. Still, it's a great album, and I wish Lord and Tommy could have worked together more

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 5:56:25 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 24, 2012 6:56:16 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 6:00:08 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 6:01:25 PM PST
@Captain Ogre: "What, to me, makes Lord one my favorite keyboardists is the jazz influence."

I agree that Lord had a big jazz influence in his playing, but that's certainly not special to him. Jazz-influenced rock keyboardists run the gamut from Rod Argent to Ray Manzarek to (yes) Keith Emerson to Brian Auger to Dave Stewart to Mike Ratledge... Jazz and classical influences came to fore at right about the same time in rock music (1966/67), and a lot of keyboardists used those influences together, which is why the above list of players isn't that different from the previous list I gave. Now, Lord definitely had his own take on it--they all did, as none of those keyboardists sounded like each other. That was the great thing about that time in rock; they all had their own sound, their own "twist".
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Discussion in:  Classic Rock forum
Participants:  27
Total posts:  497
Initial post:  Nov 24, 2012
Latest post:  Oct 6, 2013

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