It’s Purple Week at mikeladano.com! It’s all Deep Purple and Deep Purple alumni, all week. This is Part 2.
Part 1: Shades of Deep Purple
DEEP PURPLE – The Book of Taliesyn (1968 EMI, 2000 remaster)
I’m not a big fan of The Book of Taliesyn, 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. The Book of only scratches the surface. The band had yet to find their sound, which would emerge fully formed a year later on Deep Purple In Rock. This album does represent significant growth, but not in the heavy metal direction that Purple would co-pioneer. Instead, Book of travels further down the orchestral roads with Jon Lord.
The Book of Taliesyn, like Shades of Deep Purple before it, is built with cover songs as its cornerstones. It contains one of my favourite Deep Purple Mk I tracks: their version of Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman”. Energetic, ragged and rocking hard, “Kentucky Woman” is the absolute best track here. Ian Paice is the MVP, but singer Rod Evans is well suited to this kind of tune. Other standouts include “Wring That Neck”, the legendary instrumental (also called “Hard Road”) that the band continued to play through the decades even after Blackmore left the band in the 90’s. “The Shield” isn’t bad, as it features a long instrumental break featuring Jon and Ritchie. There is also the track “Anthem”, a Jon Lord helmed piece that delves into classical, forshadowing the “April” suite from the third album, as well as the Concerto for Group and Orchestra itself. So, the band was certainly stretching out here. There is a definite growth from the first album. Unfortunately, the album is bogged down by another slow, boring Beatles cover (“We Can Work It Out”, this time) and also “River Deep, Mountain High”, a whole 10 minutes thereof, which does nothing to help the band. The only notable thing about it is Jon’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” intro.
Like the other two albums in this series of remasters on Spitfire, there are five previously unreleased bonus tracks. All are valuable in their own way. Keep in mind that these tapes are old and may not sound as good as you’re used to. But, “Playground” is a bright instrumental from BBC tapes, and “Wring That Neck” is presented live. “Hey Bop a Re Bop” is buried treasure, an early version of what would become “Painter” on the next album. There are two more cool covers to boot. “Oh No No No” is a studio outtake, but I don’t recognize it. It’s a mid-tempo pop rocker with splashes of Jon’s organ that quench the thirst. Nicky Simper demonstrates some impressive bass chops, but he just wasn’t the right fit for the band. A BBC Top Gear session yielded a song called “It’s All Over”, a slow country blues ballad that Thin Lizzy could have done at the same time. This is a great tune, and it’s a shame that Purple never recorded it properly.
The colourful cover art is a quaint reminder that once upon a time, album covers were 12.375″ x 12.375″ and you could gaze upon the finer details for hours. CD just doesn’t cut it. This cover was so different for the band. Their name and the album title appear on it several times, and each band member is credited (first names only) on the front. The bizarre landscape foreshadows the Hieronymus Bosch painting on the next album.
2/5 stars. Not quite the band we know and love, but slowly getting there.