The year was 1968 and the music scene was changing. In the midst of the Prog Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Acid Rock and just rock music in general, a brand new style of Hard Rock music was about to be born. It took some time for the seeds to be planted, but during the late 1960’s, those seeds were about to give birth to Heavy Metal. It would take bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin to get the formula just right by taking the sounds of the mid 1960’s and begin merging them into a new and metallic sound.
But Deep Purple, didn’t begin as a Heavy Metal right away. It took a few years for the band to find their direction. “Shades of Deep Purple” is a very important step for the band to begin moving into that direction. You had lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, vocalist Rod Evans, organist Jon Lord, drummer Ian Paice and bassist Nick Simper. Together, this marks the beginning of Mark I of the band’s line up. It was Mark II of Deep Purple that ultimately perfected the sound of Heavy Metal in 1970.
This album has much to offer, but, it does disappoint. Aside from three covers and one traditional song, that leaves this record with a total of five songs written by the actual band. However, two of them are short instrumentals that are preludes leading into a major song. Do the math, that leaves you with three real Deep Purple songs for their debut in 1968. So, you see, Deep Purple is waiting for someone to step up and take a lead and point the band into a direction.
Let’s talk about the song arrangements. Lot’s of good stuff going on. Ritchie’s guitar playing is killer. He’s got talent, he’s got riffs and damn he shreds those strings on that electric guitar. You have the heaviness of Jon Lord’s organ thrown in with the pounding of Paice’s drumming and Simper’s bass. Rod Evans, even though many people prefer Ian Gillian as the vocalist, is pretty decent. His voice is good for what Deep Purple is doing during this time.
“Shades of Deep Purple” rides heavily upon the Prog Rock and Psychedelic Rock style of music with some blues thrown in. It jams good record. The musicianship and song structures for the record being thrown together in a matter of days is great. Looking back on Mark I, it was good for what it was at the time. I’m glad to see that Blackmore took hold of the band and quickly rebuilt it into Mark II. But, before all of those classic songs, you need a little of Mark I as that is where the band started out as. They’ve come a long way and achieved much, but mostly in part of this record.
1. “And the Address” (instrumental)
2. “Hush” Joe South
3. “One More Rainy Day”
4. “Prelude: Happiness (instrumental)
5. “I’m So Glad” Skip James
1. “Mandrake Root”
2. “Help!” John Lennon, Paul McCartney
3. “Love Help Me”
4. “Hey Joe” Billy Roberts