Review Summary: Only A Shade Of What Was To Come1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Deep Purple have a career that now spans over 40 years, so there is bound to be albums that could be considered anomalies. However, 'Shades Of Deep Purple' makes you question whether this is in-fact Deep Purple, or you accidentally got hold of an elusive Jimi Hendrix side-project... and it's the début! The largely non-Deep Purplish sound could be attributed to the fact that out of all the débuts of the three creators of metal, this was the earliest, being released in 1968 (a year before Led Zeppelin's self titled) and therefore, the music climate was slightly different: Psychedelia was massive while heavy metal wouldn't properly erupt until the next decade.
So, it may not be original, but is it still good? The answer to that question is certainly a yes, but considering half of it isn't even theirs, I wouldn't count on it being called a classic. Granted, the covers are generally changed greatly from the original recordings, so they are still worth listening to, especially 'Hush', which is bright, dynamic and full of energy. 'Hey Joe', however, is a different story, as the seven minute length it has is not justified, seeing as they just took the original and slapped a few sections onto it to elongate the album, and although these extra sections are probably better than the song itself, they don't fit with the simple premise of the Hendix-played original.
The performance by the band is decent, but nothing phenomenal, apart from the magnificent organ work delivered by Jon Lord. This isn't so surprising after listening to practically any Deep Purple song with him in, as his flexible playing style (playing with atmospheric touches, blues, jazz, rock 'n roll and the occasional classical segment) lifting him to a legendary status. Ian Paice was also a standout, with his energetic and fill-happy work behind the kit. And the others? They're okay, I guess: Ritchie Blackmore was much more technical than most guitar players in rock music at the time, but his style wasn't anything special. Rod Evans has a nice voice, but isn't distinctive. Nick Simper has a satisfying bass sound, but isn't mind-blowingly talented for the time. From this, it's easy to see that they were just starting out.
One flaw that could be levelled towards 'Shades Of Deep Purple' would be the murky production, and while it is full of fuzz and compression, I think it adds to the charm of this album, which wouldn't of suited another sound anyway.
In conclusion, a solid début by a band that would later go on to create albums that would become legendary for their raw power and class. This doesn't make this album a failure, but it just means that it was merely showing what was to come, hence the title 'Shades Of Deep Purple'.