Review Summary: Ye Olde Deep Purple's debut lacks originality and charisma, and shows a band not quite sure where they're heading yet.Deep Purple: A Retrospective
Episode I: Shades of Deep Purple
Every band has its roots, and veteran rockers Deep Purple have theirs in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. Founded in ‘68, disbanded once in ’76 and still alive today in 2009, the band went through a great many line-up changes, and drummer Ian Pace remains the only founding member still in the group. Purple’s first line-up would never become well-known, soon to be massively overshadowed by the wildly talented Mark II. To be-famous virtuosos Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord brought the original formation together, recruiting Nick Simper on bass, Ian Pace on drums and Rod Evans on vocals. Their debut Shades of Deep Purple
, which appeared in ’68, featured a great deal of cover material, but earned the boys some success with covering Joe South
Deep Purple Mk. I was:
- Roderick Evans ~ Lead Vocals
- Richard Hugh Blackmore ~ Lead Guitar
- Nicholas John Simper ~ Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Jon Douglas Lord ~ Keyboards, Organ, Backing Vocals
- Ian Anderson Pace ~ Drums
Created in the wake of the pop/psychedelic movement pioneered by The Beatles
, Deep Purple’s first steps were uncertain ones. Shades
is the sound of a band that has been inspired by numerous famous artists from the period, but doesn’t know quite where its own niche can be found. This is not the hard rockin’ band that the name Deep Purple is normally associated with. Instead, it could be best described as a hybrid between pop and psychedelic rock.
With only half of the album (4 out of 8 tracks) being original material, Shades
’ greatest flaw is a lack of identity. Of course, we can distinguish the greats Blackmore and Lord, most notably in the typically psychedelic/blues jam session that is Mandrake Root
. Just don’t expect any virtuosic escapades to the likes of Child in Time
. The work is solid but unfortunately aged. Evans doesn’t really contribute to the creativity either. Though he sounds like a typical 60’s pop/rock singer, which suits the sound of the album, his lack of charisma can be an annoying factor.
may be catchy up to a certain extent, the four covers (the others being I’m So Glad
by The Beatles
and Hey Joe
by Billy Roberts
) remain too close to their originals, resulting in a rather uninteresting listen. One More Rainy Day
and Love Help Me
are unfortunately downright generic 60’s pop songs. The only original material that manages be attractive is the opening instrumental And the Address
and the aforementioned jam session in Mandrake Root
, both of which are the strongest indication of Purple’s future sound, and unsurprisingly therefore also the strongest material on the album.
Shades of Deep Purple
is perhaps exactly what the title might suggest. It is only a shade, a flash of what Deep Purple would later be capable of. Especially Mark II would reach tremendous heights, but only after Mark I released two more albums. Deep Purple’s first album is unfortunately not innovative, not charismatic and just boring at moments. Its two great tracks cannot make up for the other material, and that leaves us with a painfully average album that hasn’t aged well.
And the Address