Review Summary: Mark II starts with a bang of fantastic hard rock energy.Deep Purple: A Retrospective
Episode IV: Deep Purple In Rock
Formed in 1968, Deep Purple’s success had already bloomed slightly with their Mark I line-up, consisting of Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Jon Lord on keyboards, Ian Pace on drums, Rod Evans on vocals and Nick Simper on bass. Purple’s first three albums, Shades of Deep Purple, The Book of Taliesyn (both 1968), and a self-titled album in 1969 still borrowed heavily from the psychedelic rock scene of the late 60’s. The band weren’t absolutely sure of their own sound then, covering many famous artists such as The Beatles. Jon Lord was mainly the man in charge, and as such, his classical influences played a major part in Purple’s first era.
Blackmore was about to change all that.
He and Lord were and have always been the greatest virtuosos in the band. Blackmore had enough of Lord taking lead, and wanted to steer more towards a heavier sound. Lord agreed to try something new and they would see how it turned out. As a result, they saw it fit to fire Evans and Simper, who were no material for hard rock. New vocalist and bassist Ian Gillan and Roger Glover were brought in, and the Mark II line-up was formed. What the band didn’t know then, was that it was going to be their best by far. The first studio effort they made together, Deep Purple in Rock
, was a great success and is still seen as a hard rock landmark today.
Deep Purple Mk. II was:
- Ian Gillan ~ Vocals
- Richard Hugh Blackmore ~ Lead Guitar
- Roger David Glover ~ Bass Guitar
- Jon Douglas Lord ~ Keyboards/Organ
- Ian Anderson Pace ~ Drums
The talent of these 5 musicians put together is massive. Blackmore is considered one of the greatest guitarists of the 70’s, and with good reason. Jon Lord’s classical influences made him an unique and masterful keyboard player. Many have tried to imitate his style, and all failed. Ian Pace proves he is worth his salt as a drummer, having driving, speedy drum work with excellent fills. Glover is a solid bass player, but the most interesting of the two additions is the immensely talented Gillan. While his trademark rusty vocals are in a bit of a lower register, his incredible falsetto could, at the time, reach tremendous heights, making up for a vocal range nothing short of astounding.
Blackmore taking over the wheel and steering it to hard rock was about the best move he could have made for the band, as every member could now fully utilize their strengths. Lord was still a driving force behind the band’s sound, but In Rock
is far and far more riff-driven than anything before it. Even more importantly, each member gets sufficient time to shine. Opener Speed King
is a speaking example. While opening with a short amount of distorted guitar, what follows is a far mellower piece by Lord. Before you know it, however, Gillan’s vocals kick in with unmatched intensity and power, backed by guitar that is just as powerful. The rest of the band joins in and the song keeps it momentum going strongly until the end, making for one of the highlights on the album.
Especially the first three songs emphasize Gillan’s qualities in the higher register. Bloodsucker smartly combines a laid-back blues riff, played just a bit faster and heavier, with the sheer power of Gillan’s voice. He and Blackmore have evidently formed a new core, and despite great contribution by everyone, both guitar and vocals remain In Rock
’s most outstanding and appealing features.
What makes the album so fantastic as a whole is that it is hard rock greatness all the way through, with enough features that set songs apart. Into the Fire
is the shortest and also most straightforward song on here. Flight of the Rat
is intense and relaxed at the same time, created by a contrast between the combination of the faster, heavier guitar and drums and the calmer vocals. The aforementioned Speed King
has that unique intro, making for just a few examples of the excellent variety.
What tops the rest of the songs on one of Purple’s greatest studio records, of course, is their masterpiece: Child in Time
. The album would not quite have been what it is without it. The subtle keys intro, complemented by soft ticks by Pace, sets a unique atmosphere in already the very first seconds of the 10-minute song. The piece is best known for Gillan’s vocals, building up from almost crooning in the first few verses to that incredible falsetto nobody has ever managed to rival. It may be the best performance of his career, and that also goes for Blackmore. His trademark blues-influenced solo is more than 2 minutes long, and worth every second of it. Child in Time
is perfected by its wonderful climax. It is as close as you can get to perfect, and is truly one of the most unique songs ever created.
Deep Purple in Rock
is a hard rock landmark created by one of the most talented bands of the 70’s, and should be owned by anybody into any sort of rock music. It remains one of Deep Purple’s finest records up to this day, topped only by the marvellous Made in Japan
and equalled only by Machine Head
. Do yourself a favour and get this if you haven’t already.
Child in Time
Flight of the Rat
Into the Fire