Review Summary: Turning The Page2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Deep Purple, while being away from what would become their signature sound on 'Shades Of Deep Purple', still stood out for their brilliant musicianship on the album, and 'The Book Of Taliesyn' shows signs of progression for the band: the original songs are more ambitious, there are several musical experiments (like the drum sound on 'Shield'), the covers are more morphed into their own sound, the performance is much better and the production is far cleaner than on the début. Unfortunately, this album gets continuously underrated, as it has the misfortune of being in the middle of 'Shades Of Deep Purple', a fairly safe album with a raw charm, and 'Deep Purple', a progressive and polished album. This leads to many people either preferring one or the other and dismissing this one as a transitional album. Although it is in fact bridging the gap between 'Shades Of Deep Purple' and 'Deep Purple', it has some top quality material.
'Shield', for example, is a masterpiece; full of subtlety, great melodies and originality. The opener, 'Listen, Learn, Read On' is also a stand-out, as it is the most similar to a Mark II era song (it is the most similar to 'Highway Star') out of anything by Mark I, although 'Wring That Neck' is quite close as well due to the virtuosity and dynamics contained within. The original songs on here are undoubtedly a step up from the début's.
The covers, however, are still fairly numerous (though they are not half the tracks) and are very similar in to the covers on the previous album; 'Kentucky Woman' resembles 'Hush, 'We Can Work It Out' is another Beatles cover and 'River Deep, Mountain High' gets a similar treatment to 'Hey Joe', though it is less awkward sounding in the transitions from original material to the cover. The musical additions to the covers, just like on 'Shades Of Deep Purple, sounds great, but it may make the listener wonder why they didn't just make original songs out of them.
Each member of Deep Purple has improved greatly over the six month gap between 'Shades Of Deep Purple' and this album, as they all are forging an identity for themselves. Even Rod Evans, who wasn't all that distinctive before, starts to show off impressive range and dynamics here which adds to the liveliness of the overall performance. Ritchie Blackmore is also beginning to show what he is really capable of, with memorable riffs, flashy solos and a nice guitar tone.
Overall, 'The Book Of Taliesyn' is a fair improvement from Deep Purple's début, but hasn't quite got rid of the covers that hurt that album in a major way, However, this would soon change when they made their self titled album.