[Review] Deep Purple In Rock (1970)

There was no looking back after this album; Purple’s fate was set in stone as a heavy metal band.

Kronomyth 5.0: A monumental shift to hard rock.

Most of Mount Rushmore was carved using dynamite. Pity. If they’d waited thirty years, they could have simply pointed a few speakers at the mountain, cranked Deep Purple In Rock up to maximum volume and saved themselves a lot of dynamite.

This album marks the official debut of Deep Purple Mark II (we’ve already talked about the whole mark thing, by the way, so I’m just using common nomenclature), since Concerto for Group and Orchestra belonged more to the house of Lord. It also marks a high, early watermark in the history of hard rock and heavy metal.

Now, the musical world’s collective ears were still ringing from Led Zeppelin, and it seems that Deep Purple had picked up that band’s tossed gauntlet before recording Deep Purple In Rock. (Ritchie Blackmore has since confirmed this in interviews.) The opening Speed King says it all: Deep Purple wanted to be the fastest, loudest, heaviest band on the planet. In fact, they would soon get their wish, with the Guinness Book of Records naming them the world’s loudest band the following year.

The decision to be a hard rock group was a defining moment for Deep Purple, and from here on the band’s course was set in stone. What’s most impressive about Deep Purple In Rock is its intensity; the hard rock dial is pretty much pegged in the red zone the entire time. Although the entire album is one extended highlight, “Speed King” and the epic Child In Time (previewed to less stunning effect on the earlier Concerto) are classics in the Purple canon.

If you’re thinking that Jon Lord is the odd man out in this heavy metal shift, not so fast. It’s true that Blackmore’s guitar takes center stage much of the time, but Lord rises to the challenge in remarkable ways with some of the heaviest organ solos you’ll ever hear in your life (e.g., Flight of the Rat, Living Wreck). Ian Gillan also does an amazing job on the vocals; sixty seconds into “Speed King,” you won’t even remember Rod Evans’ name (and Evans was no slouch). As for the rhythm section, Ian Paice and Roger Glover are a pair of pummeling fists to your ears.

Purple and Blackmore saw where the future of rock was headed and accelerated its arrival with Deep Purple In Rock. Whether or not you subscribe to the whole Mark I/II thing, there’s no debating that this album left an indelible mark on the music scene.

Original LP Version
A1. Speed King (4:18)
A2. Bloodsucker (4:12)
A3. Child In Time (10:15)
B1. Flight of the Rat (7:52)
B2. Into The Fire (3:29)
B3. Living Wreck (4:30)
B4. Hard Lovin’ Man (7:10)

All selections written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice.

CD reissue bonus tracks (anniversary edition)
8. Black Night
9. Studio Chat
10. Speed King (piano version)
11. Studio Chat
12. Cry Free (Roger Glover remix)
13. Studio Chat
14. Jam Stew
15. Studio Chat
16. Flight of the Rat (Roger Glover remix)
17. Studio Chat
18. Speed King (Roger Glover remix)
19. Studio Chat
20. Black Night (unedited Roger Glover remix)

The Players
Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, Ian Paice. Produced by Deep Purple; engineered by Andy Knight, Martin Birch, Philip McDonald.

The Pictures
Cover design by Edwards Coletta Productions. Art studios: Nesbit, Phipps & Froome. Photography by Mike Brown, Alan Hall.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and cassette on June 3, 1970 in the UK (Harvest, SHVL/TC-SHVL 777), the US (Warner Bros., WS 1877), Germany (Harvest/Hör Zu, SHZE 288) and Italy (Harvest, 3C 054-91442) with gatefold cover; reached #4 on the UK charts and #143 on the US charts. Also released on elpee in 1970 in Taiwan (Liming, LM-2385) without gatefold cover (lyrics on back cover). Also released on elpee in Korea (Ka, KA 537) with green or violet non-gatefold cover.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1972 in the US (Warner Bros., WS 1877) {burbank label} with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Warner Bros., P-10108W) {burbank label} with gatefold cover.
  3. Re-released on purple vinyl elpee in 1978 in France (EMI/Pathe Marconi, DC 11).
  4. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in May 1982 in the UK (Fame, FA/TC-FA 3011).
  5. Re-released as picture disc elpee in June 1985 in the UK (EMI, EJ26 0343 0) with poster.
  6. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Warner Bros., 1877-2).
  7. Re-issued on February 10, 1989 in Japan (Warner Bros., 20P2-2603).
  8. Re-released on green vinyl elpee in 1991 in Czechoslovakia (EMI/Globus, 21 0096-1 311).
  9. Re-released on expanded, remastered anniversary edition purple vinyl 2LP and compact disc in June 1995 in the UK (EMI, 34019-1) with gatefold cover and 13 bonus tracks.
  10. Re-released on super high material compact disc on September 17, 2008 in Japan (Warner Bros., WPCR-13110).
  11. Re-released on gold remastered compact disc in 2009 in the US (Audio Fidelity, AFZ 051).
  12. Re-packaged with Fireball (25th anniversary edition) on 2-for-1 2CD in 2010 in France (EMI, 5099996790625).
  13. Re-released on half-speed mastered 180g vinyl elpee in 2016 in the US (Warner, R1 1877).

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