Deep Purple - In Rock and Machine Head
An album that’s essential to understanding the history of hard rock and heavy metal is Deep Purple’s 1970 Deep Purple In Rock [Warner Bros CD 1877].
While In Rock is Deep Purple’s fourth album, it was their 1st release to feature vocalist Ian Gillan’s dynamic singing and Roger Glover’s powerful and melodic bass. Combined with Jon Lord’s virtuoso keyboard and Hammond organ work, drummer Ian Paice’s cerebral percussion, and Ritchie Blackmore’s frenetic guitar wizardry, today, In Rock is considered to be one of the cornerstones in the foundation of all forms of modern-day hard rock and heavy metal.
As rock musicians went, in the early 1970s Deep Purple’s individual members could out-play just about everyone else who was around at that time. As a collective whole, Deep Purple’s musical synergy was simply unmatched.
While the first three Deep Purple albums had drawn influences from psyche, blues, folk, and even classical music, In Rock took all of these influences further; in fact, much further. They collectively combined the despairing sound of the blues, the panoramic sound of psychedelic music, and the light-hearted meanderings of folk music, and then played them far faster and heavier. At the same time, they also added a darker edge to the music. What emerged was a prototype collection of classic hard rock songs which all future genres of metal classify as an influence.
The first track on In Rock titled ‘Speed King’ roars forth with a fastbreaking lead guitar riff. Combined with solid percussion, great rhythm, and a curious organ solo, this song drives listeners headlong into a barrage of intricate lead guitar solos. Gillian’s knife-edged feral screams set the vocal tone for the entire album.
The tracks ‘Bloodsucker’, ‘Flight of the Rat’, ‘Into the Fire’, and ‘Living Wreck’ are all musically structured around the same heavy bassladen rhythms, fast guitar lines, and screaming vocals. Numerous swift and atmospheric guitar, drum, organ, and bass solos punctuate all of these songs with creative and unexpected musical complexity.
With its progressive time signa- tures and meandering organ interludes, the song ‘Child in Time’ clocks in at 10:15. Musically speaking, it redefined what could be done with an epic-length hard rock track. Part of this song was even used to great effect in the Hollywood blockbuster movie Twister.
In Rock is one of my ‘Desert Island Discs’. This album delivered the speed, power, and technical virtuosity which would become the tenets of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal [NWoBHM] movement, of Heavy Metal in the 1980s and beyond, and of all modern rock music being played fast and loud. If you’re curious to know where this style of music started, it should be on your ‘short list’ of albums to buy.
Even though the members of the ‘Mach-2’ version of Deep Purple had only been together for two years when Machine Head was recorded, the album sounds like a mature release from a band who knew exactly how to capture the volcanic energy of their live shows on tape in the studio environment.
Ian Paice was an astounding drummer who had the musical maturity to never overwhelm, or overplay, songs with bombastic, lunatic, or unnecessary drum solos; and/or superfluous percussion.
Jon Lord played keyboards with such authority, dexterity, and confidence, that he single-handedly made the Hammond organ a force to be reckoned with in hard rock music. Although formally trained as a classical pianist, Lord’s attitude was that of a thoroughbred rock musician who could play technically intricate (read: near impossible) neo-classical keyboard lines, but also had the creative skill and imagination to, seemingly at will, add staggering amounts of atmosphere or utterly bizarre sounding staccato bursts from his keyboards.
And, just as on the In Rock album, Ian Gillan brings a commanding swagger, unstoppable fun, and screaming gusto to every track on