REVIEW: Deep Purple – Deep Purple (1969)

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DEEP PURPLE – Deep Purple (1969 EMI, 2000 The Original Deep Purple Collection)

I love when bands release a self-titled album as their third, perpetually (purpetually?) confusing fans who think it’s their first!  Maybe not so much in the Wikipedia age, but many of my customers thought that Deep Purple was the band’s debut.

This album is unbelievable. I know people, very particular music fans, who consider this to be the best Deep Purple album. I wouldn’t make that claim myself (I prefer Fireball) but I rank this one very high. Neither of the first two albums by Deep Purple Mk I did much for me.  I found them meandering and plodding.  Somehow, by the third record, the band had morphed into something different.  The singer was Rod Evans (Captain Beyond) and the bassist was Nicky Simper (Warhorse).  And of course more changes would come, since this would prove to be the last album for both men.

Side one, track one is an amazing opener called “Chasing Shadows” (not to be confused with a later Deep Purple song just called “Shadows”) that features a Paice-arranged drum orchestra throughout the whole song. “Blind” is second, which features Lord on harpsichord. How 1960’s! Great song though, slow and mournful with a wicked Blackmore solo.  This is followed by the Donovan cover “Lalena”. It is another sad sounding track in a row, but with a beautiful organ opening from Jon Lord. A brief instrumental called “Fault Line” is a crazy interlude, recorded backwards with the bass recorded forwards. That melds into a serious rocker called “Painter”, which ends side one. “Painter” to me is best remembered for Ian Paice’s inventive drumming and Blackmore’s excellent bluesy playing.

Side two began with “Why Didn’t Rosemary?”, a groovy blues rocker with the relentless rhythm section of Paice and Simper driving it. “Bird Has Flown” follows, but not the Beatles song. It verges on heavy metal with Blackmore leaning heavily on the wah-wah peddle. The final track, “April”, is a 12 minute tour-de-force and an obvious foreshadowing to the next Deep Purple album, Concerto For Group And Orchestra. It features a long opening in two movements. The first movement is mostly organ and classical guitar, with some electric guitar accents. The second is based entirely on classical instruments and sounds very medieval at times. (Foreshadowing Blackmore’s Night!)  Finally, the band kicks in with an intense rocker, Paice laying it down hard.  Rod Evans’ lead vocal is among his best, a fitting swan song, although he certainly didn’t know that at the time!

Indeed, even while Deep Purple were gigging with Rod Evans and Nick Simper in the band, they would soon secretly begin rehearsing and recording with their replacements, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover!

This excellent CD remaster comes with an extensive booklet and five bonus tracks. Some of these bonus tracks were completely previously unreleased. These are live BBC performances and non-album singles. Notably included are two cool, catchy and rare singles A-sides:  “Emmaretta” and “The Bird Has Flown” (an earlier version of “Bird Has Flown”).  Some of the BBC performances have since been released on compilation albums, but these are rare performances indeed.  In a short while, the band would write In Rock and drop most of the old songs from their set.

The only flaw with this CD, (and I’m talking the only flaw), is the cover. That awesome painting by Hieronymus Bosch is one of the coolest, creepiest, most interesting paintings I know. The original LP was a gatefold and you could fold the whole thing out and stare at it for years. The cover on this CD is so tiny, and doesn’t show the back part of the LP.  That’s a real shame.  For such a great cover, for it to be chopped and rendered down to about 2″ per side…it doesn’t make any sense.  What a blown opportunity.  The CD should have come with a small fold out poster, at least.

5/5 stars…but pick up an original LP if you can. I have a purple vinyl reissue, but it lacks the gatefold, and you really lose something without the gatefold.

An original LP is seen below.

19 comments

  1. Interesting stuff! I never really got hugely into this one. My favourite Mk I album was Book of Taliesyn (think that was Gillan’s favourite too!). That’s always the one I listen to most. I do think the first era is quite overlooked though and I’m due another listen!

    So would you say that, next to Fireball, this is their second best album?

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    1. Wow, interesting. No, but I do think this is the best of the Rod Evans period. I like Perfect Strangers, In Rock, and Purpendicular better.

      Now, Book Of is my least favourite! But I will be ripping and listening again soon. I like Gillan’s taste in general.

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      1. It is weird as it’s basically a carbon copy of the debut but I always enjoy that one the most. Sometimes certain albums just stand out to different people I suppose!

        I think it might have been in the In Rock liner notes that I read IG mention that one. Maybe it was the only one he knew!

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        1. I love Kentucky Woman. Amazing version. They were going to do another Neil Diamond cover, but it was never completed. They even called Neil for help with the chords.

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  2. Awesome. Thanks for mentioning me at the top, really appreciate it. I’ve always loved Deep Purple but never really ventured backwards, I only know “Machine Head” and “In Rock”. I think I’m going to wishlist and then buy a huge bulk of CDs whenever I have next my set of “music funds”.

    Have you ever done any other Deep Purple reviews?

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    1. No problem Nick; your great site keeps getting even better and even when I don’t know the bands, your reviews are always interesting to read!

      If you want to go “back” in Deep Purple, there used to be a 3 CD set with this album and the first two. If it’s still around that would be the best way to go back!

      I have done a few Deep Purple reviews but I think you’ve seen them all by now:

      https://mikeladano.com/tag/deep-purple/

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        1. Life of a music fan! Money, no money. Money, no money!

          I have a seriously cool Deep Purple item coming in the mail soon, I won’t say what it is yet Nick, but it’s gonna be pretty.

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        2. Yeah, as the story goes I’ve had no money for the past month and a half.

          Awesome. I think my mailbox is having withdrawal symptoms…

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  3. I love this album! Deep Purple changes so much through the years that I have trouble comparing LPs between eras, but this one has to be near the top for me, This is music custom made for lying in a dark room and listening through headphones.

    Rod Evans was the perfect singer for Purple’s early style. Gillan and Coverdale are monsters, but Evans deserves much praise as well. He would have been a bad fit for In Rock, but he’s the cat’s meow here. Speaking of Evans, I only discovered Captain Beyond in 2012 after reading obits for guitarist Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt. Before that I had no idea what had become of Evans. What do you think of Captain Beyond? (Disclaimer: I’ve become a huge fan of their first two albums (the ones with Evans!), so be gentle.)

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    1. Well Victim, it’s interesting you mention that. My buddy T-Rev bought me a Japanese import of Captain Beyond’s album Sufficiently Breathless about 12 or 13 years ago, maybe even more…and I haven’t played it in a long time. So it’s actually been on deck for me to rip to my computer, listen to and possibly review.

      Should I consider this comment a review request? ;)

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      1. Absolutely, let’s make it formal: I’d love to read a review of Sufficiently Breathless when you get a chance. Don’t want to sway anything but I am personally fond of that album. The first S/T LP by Captain Beyond is probably the one that I most listen to, however.

        [And here’s the part of my reply that you should ignore outright: I tend to lack the nuanced listening ability (not to mention the writing chops) to do album reviews, but if you were ever bored, I did once post about my “discovery” of Captain Beyond – click at your own risk: http://victimofthefury.com/2013/03/09/dancing-madly-backwards-discovering-captain-beyond/ ]

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        1. “I tend to lack the nuanced listening ability (not to mention the writing chops) to do album reviews”

          Well I don’t agree with that statement there, I just read the Captain Beyond story and it’s great! It’s descriptive and it communicates the impact that the music had on you.

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  4. It was being a fan of early Deep Purple that led me to be a Genesis fan. Early Genesis, that is. Adventurous instrumentals with plenty of drama. (Hear: Genesis “Nursery Cryme”) It all started many years ago with Deep Purple’s “The Book of Taliesyn”. At the time it was the wlldest thing I’d ever heard, the instrumental parts of that album. I still like to listen to it today.

    Anyhow, your review is for the 3rd Deep Purple album. A step down for my tastes. Less grand and more toward the bluesy rock they’d later become known for on Machine Head. Except for “April”, which is about the most hauntingly beautiful piece of imagery I’ve ever heard on any album, by any band.

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  5. Interesting, Bone Head. In an old review that I wrote about 5 years ago, I reported that I didn’t like Book Of. I plan on revisiting that one. Maybe this time it’ll just click with me. I haven’t played it in a couple years.

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