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.
“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!