The story begins with Screamin' Lord Sutch. More a joke than a Rocker, Sutch did have one significant attribute. His guitarist was future Deep Purple founder Ritchie Blackmore. Meanwhile, Maze, with Rod Evans (vocals) and Ian Paice (drums) were flaying about. Jon Lord (organ) and Nick Simper (bass) of the Flowerpot Men were not doing well either. The five decided to join forces. Deep Purple made their first appearance on April 20th, 1968 in a place called Tastrup, Denmark. At the time they called themselves Roundabout.
Early Deep Purple could be described as a combination covers band and experimental Rock. The covers included "Hush," a major hit, "River Deep, Mountain High" (Ike & Tina Turner)," "Help!" (Beatles) and "We Can Work It Out" (Beatles again). Neil Diamond commented that Deep Purple's version of his "Kentucky Woman" wasn't even the same song. As songwriters Deep Purple still had a bit to go.
Even though they'd had some fairly successful tours, nothing major had happened. Changes were in order. Evans and Simper were ousted and replaced by Ian Gillan and Roger Glover. "Space Truckin'," "Smoke On The Water" and "My Woman From Tokyo" came from this line up. They were writing all their own material and Rockin' harder than ever.
There's an old Blues song with the line "if it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all." This could have been Deep Purple's theme. They recorded "Deep Purple In Rock" and "Fireball." Both LPs were reasonably successful. They didn't do as well as they should have because the band cancelled two tours due to illness. The next album was scheduled to be recorded at a swank club/hotel in Montreaux, Switzerland. But upon their arrival the building they were going to use burned down so they were forced to lay down tracks in the hallway of an old abandoned hotel. "Smoke On The Water" documents the creation of the "Machine Head" album which was Deep Purple's creative and commercial highpoint. Studio album "Who Do We Think We Are" and the incredible live set "Made In Japan" extended Deep Purple's popularity. But that's when the group began to disintegrate.
Glover walked away to be a record producer. Gillan quit, citing exhaustion. They were replaced by lesser lights. Then Blackmore, not liking the direction Deep Purple was going, especially with new vocalist David Coverdale, left to form Rainbow. That led to the group's recruitment of ex-James Gang member Tommy Bolin. Eventually, the thing just ran out of juice. Paice and Lord briefly joined Coverdale's Whitesnake.
A decade after the group's most popular line-up splintered they reunited for the "Perfect Strangers" LP and tour. Three years later "House Of Blue Lights" was released. That project derailed Blackmore's association with the group. With former Dixie Dregs and Kansas guitarist Steve Morse, Deep Purple (now on a small labels since they were no longer able to command the audience major labels crave) released "Purpendicular" in '96. "Abandoned' came out in '98. Another change came when Lord retired and Don Airey took over on keyboards. Airey, formerly of Rainbow, worked with Ozzy Osbourne and was a highly regarded session musician. "Bananas," in '03, was Airey's first effort with the group. Somebody must have been buying these albums because Deep Purple returned, yet again, two years later, with the dismal "Rapture Of The Deep."
It took some time to recover but "Now What?!" dropped in '13, Their 19th studio album was their first release in seven years. "It's a fantastic collection of songs," said Gillan.
"This album stretches out in some new areas for us, instrumentally," added Morse. The set was recorded in Nashville with producer Bob Ezrin.
1968 Shades Of Deep Purple
1968 The Book Of Taliesyn
1969 Deep Purple
1969 Concerto For Group And Orchestra (Live)
1970 Deep Purple In Rock
1972 Machine Head
1972 Made In Japan (Live)
1973 Who Do We Think We Are
1975 Come Taste The Band
1978 When We Rock, We Rock, And When We Roll, We Roll (compilation)
1984 Perfect Strangers
1987 The House Of Blue Light
1990 Slaves and Masters
1993 The Battle Rages On...
2000 The Very Best Of Deep Purple (compilation)
2005 Rapture Of the Deep
2013 Now What?!"
Deep Purple's early work shows a group developing their songwriting skills, padding their albums with impressionistic covers. Of the three early albums "Book of Taliesyn," the second, has the most going for it ("Kentucky Woman," "The Shield" and the instrumental "Hard Road." From "Deep Purple," "The Bird Has Flown" featuring Blackmore's wah-wah guitar, is the killer track. "Purple Passages" takes songs from these early albums but it doesn't include "The Bird Has Flown."
Sitting around stoned, the idea of mixing Deep Purple with the Royal Philharmonic might seem "cool." "Concerto For Group and Orchestra" proves it isn't.
Recovering from this judgment error, "In Rock" and "Fireball" are solid proto-Metal albums. Now they were on a roll. Released in '72, the incredible "Machine Head" LP has the 12-bar Rocker "Lazy," the riff slashing "Space Truckin'," the frantic "Highway Star" and the undeniable "Smoke On The Water."
A weaker but still impressive "Who Do We Think We Are" came next. This set includes the magnificent "Woman From Tokyo."
The live "Made In Japan" has passion and unbridled enthusiasm. With lots of solos and Gillan's wailing, this album contains the definitive version of "Smoke On The Water."
Two albums, "Burn" and "Stormbringer" are unexceptional as replacement players fail to measure up.
Deep Purple without Gillan and Glover is a step down but Deep Purple absent Blackmore is unacceptable as "Come Taste The Band" feebly illustrates.
Since their "reunion" in '84 Deep Purple has released "Perfect Strangers," "House Of Blue Light," "Purpendicular," "Abandoned," "Bananas" and '05 release "Rapture Of The Deep."
For a concise overview of Deep Purple's grandeur there are a couple options. "When We Rock We Rock & When We Roll We Roll" and "The Very Best Of Deep Purple" culls the best from Deep Purple's lengthy career.