[Review] Deep Purple: Shades of Deep Purple (1968)

On the band’s debut, they follow the tracks of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, and they don’t step lightly.

Kronomyth 1.0: A darker shade of purple.

In the beginning, Deep Purple were content to throw their hat into the expanding psychedelic/proto-prog rock scene that included Cream, Vanilla Fudge, Jimi Hendrix and Procol Harum. Like VF (an avowed influence), the band presented ambitious re-intepretations of popular contemporary songs: “Hush” (which turned Billy Joe Royal’s minor hit into a major sensation), “Help!,” “I’m So Glad” and “Hey Joe.” Actually, those last two songs only stray from the versions by Cream and Hendrix in the solos, but it’s amazing to hear them match the intensity of the originals (with Ian Paice conceding nothing to Ginger Baker or Mitch Mitchell).

Yet there’s something both sinister and magical in the work of Purple that separates them from a band like Vanilla Fudge. Maybe it’s the spooky introductions (shades of Hammer Films), the supernatural label (“Tetragrammaton” is a reference to the four letters of God’s name in Hebrew, JHVH) or the overtly classical overtones provided by Jon Lord (check out his organ solo in the foxy “Mandrake Root”). 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,” a science fiction synthesizer in the dawning seconds of “Help.”

Special mention on their first album has to go to Paice and particularly Jon Lord, whose organ fires off round after round of powerful sounds like a cannon 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. 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. Their songwriting at this early stage is derivative (“Mandrake Root” borrows from Jimi Hendrix, “Love Help Me” from The Who), so you can dock their debut an imaginary star for that if it makes you feel better. Yet the pomp and personality or prime Purple is already in full attendance here, and Shades marks an auspicious beginning to an amazing band.

Original LP Version

A1. And The Address (Ritchie Blackmore/Jon Lord) (4:36)
A2. Hush (Joe South) (4:11)
A3. One More Rainy Day (Jon Lord/Rod Evans) (3:15)
A4. Prelude: Happiness (Deep Purple) (2:45)
A5. I’m So Glad (Skip James) (4:53)
B1. Mandrake Root (Ritchie Blackmore/Rod Evans/Jon Lord) (5:55)
B2. Help (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) (5:45)
B3. Love Help Me (Ritchie Blackmore/Rod Evans) (3:34)
B4. Hey Joe (Deep Purple*) (7:38)

Arranged by Deep Purple.
* Incorrectly credited to the band on early pressings.

CD reissue bonus tracks
10. Shadows (album out take)
11. Love Help Me (instrumental version)
12. Help (alternate take)
13. Hey Joe (BBC Top Gear session)
14. Hush (live US TV)

The Players

Ritchie Blackmore (lead guitar, vocals), Rod Evans (lead vocals), Jon Lord (organ, vocals), Ian Paice (drums), Nic Simper (bass guitar, vocals). Produced by Derek Lawrence; engineered (sound balance) by Barry Ainsworth.

The Pictures

Graphic design by Les Weisbrich.

The Plastic

Released on elpee on July 17, 1968 in the US and Canada (Tetragrammaton, T-102) and in September 1968 in the UK (Parlophone, PS 7055) and India (Parlophone, PCS.7055); reached #24 on the US charts. US and UK versions have different covers.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1969 in Germany (EMI Odeon, 1C 062-04 175).

    Shades of Deep Purple US album cover
    Original US album cover
  2. Re-issued on elpee (c.1971-3) in the UK (Parlophone, PCS 7055) {black two mark label, “The Gramaphone Co”}.
  3. Re-issued on cassette in the US (Tetragrammaton, T 102).
  4. Re-issued on elpee, cassette and 8-track in 1977 in the UK (EMI Harvest, 7C 054-04175), Italy (EMI Harvest, 3C 254/344 04175), Japan (Warner Bros., P-10332W) and the Netherlands (EMI Harvest, 5C 038-04175). Harvest elpee reissue features unique cover. 8-track features different track order.
  5. Re-issued on cassette in the US (MNI, 3201) and the Netherlands (Red Dog Express, 3201-4).
  6. Re-issued on cassette in Poland (ALF, A-048).
  7. Re-issued on compact disc on June 24, 1998 in Japan (Teichiku, TECW-21717).
  8. Re-released on remastered, expanded compact disc in 2000 in the UK (EMI, 4983362) and the US (Spitfire, 5062-2).

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