Review Summary: Mark I ditches some of the pop, writes some more covers, and meanwhile move closer to the sound that would bring them fame and recognition.Deep Purple: A Retrospective
Episode II: The Book of Taliesyn
Early Deep Purple was always quick to write new albums, and 1969 gave life to their second output The Book of Taliesyn
. Mark I, led for a great deal by the classically-trained Jon Lord, continues to write more of their own material, but still includes three covers in the album: Neil Diamond
’s Kentucky Woman
, The Beatles
’ We Can Work It Out
and River Deep, Mountain High
by Ike and Tina Turner
is often seen as the bridge between the 60’s pop/psychedelics and the 70’s hard rock Deep Purple would become pioneers of.
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
And for fans of that hard rock, Taliesyn
will be more easily digested than Shades
. From the very first notes of Listen, Learn, Read On
, a catchy psychedelic/blues rocker, Deep Purple sounds harder-edged. Notable standouts are Pace’s drumming, which has now grown much more fierce (a style he would stick with throughout the rest of his career) and Evans’ vocals, which have thankfully improved. Evans feels more at ease, it sounds like, and although he would be easily overshadowed by the likes of Gillan and Coverdale in later times, his performance is not as bland as it was on Shades
Where the first track gave way to show an improved drummer and vocalist, the second track Hard Road (Wring That Neck)
reveals the combined talents of the virtuosos Blackmore and Lord. An instrumental track, it starts off with an incredibly tasty jam on the keyboards by Lord, which gets countered one and a half minute in by what is Blackmore’s first great (bluesy as it would always be) solo, after which the two continue jamming together until the end.
Although a slight improvement from Shades
, the cover work is still nothing especially noteworthy. Closer River Deep, Mountain High
is the weakest of these, being too much of a replica of the original. Kentucky Woman
might feature a little bluesy improvisation, and Exposition
, a prelude to We Can Work It Out
but not an actual part of it, is interestingly bombastic, but that does not mean the actual cover work gets anyhow better by it. Luckily, Deep Purple would pursue their very own direction after this album and ditch the covers altogether.
The non-standout The Shield
, which is essentially another jam session, reveals that although Deep Purple is developing their trademark sound here, they are not entirely sure of themselves just yet. Anthem
hints of a lingering Shades
-style, being a rather straightforward 60’s pop song, but contains a heavily classical-influenced break that makes no complete sense being there but at the same time provides a surprising interlude for the song.
The Book of Taliesyn
is an interesting mixture of a newly found harder sound, remnants of the pop/psychedelic directions found on Shades and another bunch of covers that fail to really add anything, but the transition is sound is the most interesting of its features. Vital to Deep Purple’s development, their second album is a step up from their first, but remains merely passable overall.
Hard Road (Wring That Neck)
Listen, Learn, Read On