REVIEW: Deep Purple – Shades of (1968)

It’s a late start, but welcome to Purple Week!  It’s going to be all Deep Purple and Deep Purple alumni all week to Saturday, with at least two Epic Reviews lined up.  Let’s go!

DEEP PURPLE – Shades of (1968 EMI, 2000 remaster)

I’m not a big fan of Shades of Deep Purple, and that’s not because I don’t like Deep Purple Mk I. I do like Deep Purple Mk I, or at least some of it. I think the third Purple album from ’69 is one of the band’s all-time best, and an underrated classic. Shades of only scratches the surface. In 1968, these five guys didn’t have the road experience together yet to really gel as a unit. They had just formed and almost immediately began recording demos that landed them a record deal.  Ritchie Blackmore, a session player, had yet to emerge as the confident axeman that he is, still shyly putting together his solos while Jon Lord takes the forefront more often than not.

SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE_0003Deep Purple opened their very first vinyl with an instrumental.  “And the Address” is remarkably recognizable as Deep Purple, particularly because of Ian Paice and Jon Lord.

“Hush” was and is still an extraordinary version, and my preferred take over the 1988 Ian Gillan version. “I’m So Glad” isn’t bad, but “Mandrake Root” is not what it would later become live. “Help” has been slowed down to a crawl (reportedly, the way the Beatles wanted to do it) but it doesn’t rock. “Love Help Me” is 60’s pop rock goodness, as is “One More Rainy Day”, but “Hey Joe” is another one that would come across better live.  It doesn’t help that Shades of Deep Purple doesn’t really sound that great.

The five bonus tracks are all valuable, as these are some of Purple’s earliest live performances. Something like “Hey Joe” live (from the BBC) begins to show what the band would make of it. There’s also the rare track “Shadows” which is better than some of the tracks on the album itself.  This outtake probably could have used a little additional polishing, but it is what it is, and it’s worth checking out if only for Ritchie’s solo.  The audio fidelity on these tracks is sketchy, be forewarned.  That shouldn’t be unexpected for demos of this age.

2/5 stars. Hold tight, rock fans — a year later, the best of Mk I was yet to come!

SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE_0004

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18 comments

    1. Mild mannered — what a way to put it. Yes. Mild mannered it is, but it was also 1968.

      Purple Week will consist of 2 mild mannered albums, and a few with more balls :) And your buddy Cov the Gov may show up too.

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  1. Purple Week! Awesome. Here’s hoping this gives you the bug and you make it Purple Month! ;)

    2/5, damn. Have a look back at others you gave 2/5 – does this one balance with those, or is this a 2/5 versus other Purples that were 4/5 or 5/5? Just curious.

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    1. This is a flat 2/5 stars. Deep Purple did a couple clunkers and this is the first of ’em. We’ll look at the second clunker tomorrow, and then redeem it all on Thursday. As for an extended Purple week? This IS the extended version! I had originally just planned a double shot which grew to five.

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        1. Hey fair enough! All I will say is this: I decided on a five part series because it’s a nice number. But I haven’t really stopped listening to Purple all week, so there’s that. So I can all but guarantee more in the future :)

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  2. I’m rather fond of this album, pretty much for the reasons you aren’t!! It’s an example of late psychedelic British rock rather than photo-heavy rock and for these (admittedly slightly older) ears the better for it! Not a great album by any means, but an interesting 60s curio for sure.

    Thanks for prompting me to get it out and play!

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  3. Never had much love for the DP Mk 1 era. I don’t think they sucked back then, they were just… uninteresting, I guess. There was a good song or two, but I think the best version of Hush is on the Nobody’s Perfect live album with Gillan on the voice. Also, Mandrake Root was kinda cool. But for me Deep Purple started in 1970 with In Rock.
    I’m a huge Thin Lizzy fan, but the same goes for them, the first three albums don’t count.

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