Category Archives: Deep Purple

[A defense] Deep Purple: Shades of Deep Purple (1968)

shades of deep purple album coverKronomyth 1.0: A DARKER SHADE OF PURPLE. Hammer Films made a small fortune on movies featuring Frankenstein and Dracula that were both stylish and scary. Yes, you could look back from the vantage point of the 1970s or 1980s and say that these films were timid compared to the movies of Dario Argento or John Carpenter, but that would be taking them out of context. I mention this because a similar thing happens to Shades of Deep Purple. People look to the Purple of the future and the heavy metal movement in general, and find this a shade too pale for their tastes. At the time of its release, however, Shades of Deep Purple rose through the ranks of the psychedelic blues beserkers with the “hush” heard ‘round the world (or at least in our corner of the globe). Produced by Derek Lawrence, the record had more than a hint of horrorshow in it: an opening organswirl that crept from the crypt of darkest imagination, a wailing wolf to herald “Hush,” foreboding thunder at the onset of “One More Rainy Day.” Past those points of no return, you entered a world where Cream, The Who and Jimi Hendrix were championed as ideals. Added to these accolades was Jon Lord’s armored organ mounted atop a psychedelic tank. Critics today are apt to throw shade at Deep Purple Mk. I, but they are in my opinion jaded metallurgists with the luxury of Mk. II to compare. How many young bands would have dared approach “I’m So Glad” so soon after Cream, let alone introduce it with a brilliant classical rock piece? Or offer up such a daring interpretation of “Help!” And then there’s the closing cover of “Hey Joe,” which matches Hendrix in intensity and execution. This isn’t a band finding its voice; it’s a declaration of war. The psychedelic traces of “One More Rainy Day” would disappear, the pretty thefts of Hendrix (“Mandrake Root”) and The Who (“Love Help Me”) would pass. You can even forgive the band for accidentally taking credit for “Hey Joe.” The combination of organ and lead guitar strapped to an explosive rhythm section and equipped with a voice that could stop the world with a “Hush” was something remarkable in 1968, a sort of Procol Harum Scarum. Yes, the story gets deeper later, but their opening salvo remains a blast from the past.

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