Where there’s smoke there’s al­ways wa­ter

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

THERE’S a myth that age­ing rock­ers are brain- dam­aged old bores who drone on end­lessly about their drug­fu­elled hey­day. Even Paul McCart­ney ad­mits he can be quite the drudge when rem­i­nisc­ing about the Bea­tles. But the mem­bers of Deep Pur­ple, the metal, jazz and oc­ca­sion­ally classical band of the 1970s, are pleas­antly eru­dite. In fact they seem charm­ingly to­gether in this oft- re­peated doc­u­men­tary, which first aired in 2003.

As key­boardist Jon Lord, gui­tarist Ritchie Black­more, vo­cal­ist Ian Gil­lan, bassist Roger Glover and drum­mer Ian Paice rem­i­nisce about the 1970- 72 peak of Pur­ple ( Deep Pur­ple in Rock , Fire­ball , Ma­chine Head ), they fin­ish each other’s sen­tences with laser- like shared re­call of how it all went down, man.

Which is not to sug­gest there weren’t con­flicts, scuf­fles, fallings- out, tantrums and dummy spits: there most cer­tainly were. But the strength of this pro­gram, in­deed this se­ries, is that band mem­bers are brought to­gether to talk about the mu­sic, not the per­son­al­i­ties.

As­pir­ing mu­si­cians will slaver over gi­gan­tic mix­ing desks and other ex­otic stu­dio equip­ment, while the in­sights into the process of the cre­ation of clas­sic al­bums, from scratchy first drafts and fresh mined riffs to mix­down and mas­ter­ing in the stu­dio ex­ert a fas­ci­na­tion on fans that spans the gen­er­a­tions.

Apart from the rec­ol­lec­tions of band mem­bers, fur­ther in­sights are of­fered by a pass­ing pa­rade of jour­nal­ists, bi­og­ra­phers, pro­duc­ers and gen­eral hang­ers on.

For ex­am­ple, bi­og­ra­pher Chris Charlesworth tells us Deep Pur­ple

weren’t a nat­u­ral group of lads who’d met at school, like the Bea­tles and the Who. They came to­gether as in­di­vid­u­ally ex­pe­ri­enced mu­si­cians.’’

And if you thought song lyrics as­pired to po­etry, Gil­lan has news for you: The im­por­tant thing about a lyric is that it sounds good. It’s got to have the right rhythm, the right sibi­lance.’’ No doubt thou­sands of rap­pers would agree.

Soon enough it’s on to the in­trigu­ing tale of Smoke on the Wa­ter , which con­tains one of the most dis­tinc­tive rock riffs, played — and played wrongly, ac­cord­ing to its au­thor, Black­more — by al­most ev­ery­one who picked up a gui­tar for about 30 years af­ter the re­lease of Ma­chine Head .

The way Ritchie plays the riff is not the way that two gen­er­a­tions of kids have played it in gui­tar shops and driven ev­ery­body mad,’’ Lord says. Amen to that.

But the story Gil­lan tells about see­ing ro­man can­dles shot by ar­row into the rafters at the Mon­treux chateau while Frank Zappa was play­ing a mati­nee, and the Rolling Stones mo­bile record­ing unit waited out­side full of Deep Pur­ple’s gear, is the stuff rock dreams are made of.

Clas­sic Al­bums: Deep Pur­ple 4.30pm ( AEST), VH1

As they were: Deep Pur­ple in 1972 with Ian Gil­lan, left, and Jon Lord seated

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