Review Summary: The Definitive Mark II Deep Purple Album5 of 5 thought this review was well written
Mark I Deep Purple is underrated, but listening to the first three Mark II Deep Purple albums makes the reason for this clear. They are three of the best albums of the entire decade, and anyone who denies this either hasn't listened to them or doesn't understand the impact of one of the three strongest rock forces of the seventies (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin). 'In Rock' is the first (and possibly best) of these three albums and showcases a drastic transformation from the last album ('Deep Purple') for being only two years into their career in both sound and band members.
Both vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper have been replaced by Ian Gillan and Roger Glover respectively, and it really tells in the sound. The calm and fairly passive voice of Rod Evans has been displaced by Ian Gillan's bluesy, dynamic and unpredictable vocal style while Nick Simper's fairly non-existent bass-lines have been replaced by ones that, while sometimes just copying the guitar riff, give the album a whole lot of power. Additionally, it's amazing how well these two newcomers had a chemistry between the three original members after being in the band for less than a year.
Any of the songs could be called a highlight on any other album, but, as everyone else who has reviewed this knows, 'Child In Time' is clearly the winner here; a master-work that holds your attention for an impressive ten minutes with a smooth crescendo from a laid-back introduction with emotional singing and a gloomy atmosphere painted by the lyrics to an explosion of passion and virtuosity. However, one gem that often gets overlooked is 'Into The Fire', which is probably one of the hardest hitting songs of the seventies with a phenomenal riff that simply makes the song. The song-writing is undoubtedly simpler than on 'Deep Purple', with few attempts to innovate and not much in the way of diversity, but this doesn't amount to much considering that this album is more occupied with rocking your face off!
Ritchie Blackmore, to live up to the straightforward and truthful title, made his presence much more known by way of becoming a factory of top quality riffs; 'Speed King' and 'Bloodsucker' are almost entirely driven by what Blackmore can come up with, as opposed to Mark I's tendency to be driven by the vocal melodies. The other two original members are obviously no slouches either, but there wasn't much room for improvement, as both Jon Lord and Ian Paice did an excellent job on 'Deep Purple'.
'In Rock' deserves its place as one of the defining albums of seventies heavy metal/hard rock among 'Paranoid' and 'Led Zeppelin IV', as it's full of memorable and lively moments that make you proud to be a fan of this style of music. Most people who are into this kind of music probably have this album anyway though, seeing all the glowing reviews out there. However if you haven't got this album, this is absolutely essential.